The Time of Their Lives, by Maeve Haran.

 (Pan, £6.39; ebook, £5.99)

Claudia, Ella, Sal and Laura have been friends and drinking buddies since university.

These days—rather to their surprise—they all find themselves in their early sixties. Occasionally, they feel a bit shamefaced about their possibly dated tastes (“The height of fashion in 1969, cheese plants were as quaint as aspidistras now”), but one thing they don’t feel is old—and certainly not in the way of the sixtysomethings they remember from their youth.

In 1991, Maeve Haran scored a bestseller with Having It All, one of the first novels to acknowledge the problems of juggling a career and motherhood. Here, she seems likely to strike a similar chord with the over-60s. Between them, the four leads face most of the issues of their generation, such as widowhood, unexpected divorce, ill parents and annoying sons-in-law.
Yet Haran is far too skilful a story-teller for the book to read like an exercise in box-ticking. The characters’ own liveliness is reflected in a warm and often funny page-turner that strikes just the right balance between melancholy and defiance.

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