A novel about four very different grandmothers—Blanche, who can't seem to stop stealing things from the local pharmacy; Minna, who just wants a quiet life in her shepherd's hut, though the local children have other ideas; Cherry, who's adjusting to life in a care home; and Nan, whose favorite occupation is researching funerals—whose lives and grandchildren become unexpectedly entangled.
Vickers...worked for many years as a Jungian psychotherapist and, although her writing is blessedly free of psychobabble, her background is evident in the care with which she reveals her characters’ histories ... Grandmothers is a beautifully written and moving celebration of this love, too often unsung, that reaches out across the generations. It should be read by all grannies—so that’s one Christmas present sorted.
There is...a lot still to say about why grandmothers have been so overlooked by society. This, surely, could be important and fertile ground. But is it, here? There are just one or two moments, always with Nan, where a pinch of something more powerful spices up the narrative. But these moments vanish quickly, and for the main part the novel remains cozy. There is a rose-tinted view of the grandchildren as innocent and adorable. But this fond portrayal is uneven—I’m not sure many 12-year-old girls today would dream of falling in love with a Parisian saxophonist. The grandmothers also feel as if they have been given quirks to distinguish them. The result is a novel that will probably—and it seriously pains me to say this—be a tonic for grandmothers who are rightly sick of being culturally ignored, but it does not manage to challenge or surprise.
The contrivances that bring the trio [of grandmothers] together are breezily carried off, and the plot allows likeable characters ample opportunity to reflect wisely on subjects including art, family and mortality. Yet this gentle, subtly autumnal, tale avoids sentimentality and sententiousness.