Tess and Orla have been best friends throughout most of their adult lives. So when life gave them lemons and their loved ones let them down, they pooled their resources and bought a dressmakers shop on the corner of Penny Lane. And they’ve been doing just fine ever since. Or have they?
I have read and adored Dee MacDonald’s books in the past, specifically The Runaway Wife. I was very excited to read The Silver Ladies of Penny Lane especially since the ladies, Tess and Orla, sounded just a bit like me. They are a tad older than I am, but not by much, single, own their own dress shop for plus sized women and are in need of a change of pace in their lives. Tess, particularly, is trying to lose weight before her daughter’s wedding and doesn’t wish to appear to be washed up and left behind in life. I completely understand how she feels. I think there are many women who reach this age who feel that way after our kids are grown and starting their own lives. So I settled down for a nice read with the silver ladies.
Sadly, I found myself dismayed on multiple levels almost to the point that I barely finished reading the book at all. The women own a shop for plus sized women and are overweight themselves. Yet the remarks that they make about their customers are horrible and extremely unkind, mean in fact. For my health I have lost over 70 pounds, so I’m keenly aware of body image. The statements made by the women in this bookdxes are the very things that keep most women from ever stepping foot in a shop like this in the first place. I was utterly appalled! Secondly, I can assure you that if I had a friend who sabotaged my dieting efforts and belittled my thoughts and efforts as often and as fiercely as Orla did to Tess, we would not have been friends for more than a few days, much less for years. She is a horrible friend. I didn’t find her funny. I found her terrible, a bully. And thirdly, some of the dates that these women found themselves on were nothing short of rape! To put these into a context of “humor” is shameful! To suggest that it is okay because everyone is older or senile or overweight or frumpy or whatever we were supposed to think is simply egregious. There was nothing funny about any of this. From negative body images, stereotypes about overweight women, age discrimination to condoning date rape, this is not a book I recommend at all and I am disappointed that it is out there for others to read at all. This is not a matter of being a “snowflake” or too PC, this is a matter of women standing up for what is right and what should not be allowed. Rarely do I give a one star review but this time I think it is very deserved. I am 58 years old and very proud of not being frumpy, silver haired, desperate or willing to put up with a man sexually assaulting me or any other woman – ever! In fact, I don’t need a man at all – and neither do you!