Hilary Boyd grew up in London. Educated at Roedean, an all-girls boarding school in Sussex, she went on to become a nurse and marriage counselor. In her 30s, she went back to school to earn a degree in English Literature from London University. After graduating, she became a health journalist, writing a Mind, Body, Spirit column for the Daily Express. She has published six non-fiction books on health-related subjects such as depression, step-parenting, and pregnancy. She has been writing novels in her spare time for 20 years. Thursdays in the Park is the first to be published. Her second novel, Tangled Lives, was released in the UK in early 2013, and she is working on her third, Straight To The Heart, about a middle-aged nurse who falls in love with a mountaineer. Hilary is married to film director and producer Don Boyd (Aria, Scum and War Requiem). She has three daughters and lives in London.
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Description for Reading Group Guide:
Hilary Boyd’s THURSDAYS IN THE PARK chronicles the romance between two sixty-something grandparents who feel anything but old and are lonely for very different reasons. But with its theme of how to balance love, familial duty, and spousal commitment, the novel strikes a chord with people of all ages.
1. One of the most compelling aspects of Thursdays in the Park is its dialogue. Looking back through the novel, what is it about the dialogue that's so poignant? In what ways does it develop each character’s motivations and idiosyncrasies? Provide specific examples.
2. Discuss the specific tone and quality of Jeanie’s voice. How would you describe her personality? How does her personality help her or hinder her as she faces various hurdles throughout the book?
3. Jeanie is a woman struggling with being a grandmother in the youth-obsessed twenty-first century. What challenges does her particular position in society present to her, and how does she overcome them?
4. In what ways does Jeanie’s relationship with George affect her relationship with her daughter? And how does her relationship with Chanty inform the decisions Jeanie makes as her marriage begins to unravel?
5. What are the main themes and issues of the book, and how are they developed throughout the novel? How do the secondary characters, like Jeanie’s best friend Rita, illustrate some of these themes?
6. Is it accurate to say that love later in life is rarely discussed in today’s society? Why is it important (or not) that Boyd shines a light on this topic?
7. How does Jeanie’s relationship with her son-in-law Alex evolve over the course of the book? Does the development of this relationship parallel any of the changes in Jeanie’s marriage to George? If so, in what ways?
8. How does Thursdays in the Park compare to other contemporary romance novels? To what degree does it echo and reinforce certain narrative traditions you’ve come to expect from this genre, and in what ways does it depart from or redefine those traditions?
Excerpt from book:
George did not reply, just stood there. “I mean . . .” He spoke like a drowning man refusing rescue. “I can’t do it anymore.”
“Can’t do what? George?”
He turned away from her, picking his glasses up from the bedside table as he made for the door.
Jeanie jumped up and raced after him. “Where are you going? George? You can’t just leave me like that. Is it something I’ve done? Please . . . tell me.”
But George shook her off, barely glancing at her. “I’ll sleep in the spare room.”
I can’t do it anymore. His words haunted her as she lay alone in the crumpled bed, shocked and above all, bewildered. Their life together, twent“[A] . . . tender and intriguing love story.... Boyd is as canny as Joanna Trollope at observing family life and better than Trollope at jokes.” —The Daily Mail
“Puts the ‘sex’ back into ‘sexagenarian.” —The Times
"A must read." —AARP
“A warm and well-written case for love affairs in later life.” —Daily Telegraph
“A sincere tale of late-in-life love. . . . Boyd’s delicate rendering of Jeanie’s interior grounds the novel, and readers will root for her to finally get her own. . . . A poignant love story featuring refreshing characters in their 60s.” —Kirkus Reviews
“A poignant portrait of a stale marriage and the ties that bind couples together.” —Chicklit Club
"Beautifully written . . .The characters are like your sister or best friend. You can relate to them and feel everything just like you are right there in the story. . . (Hilary Boyd) completely wraps you in. This book is a must read for women of any age." - Two Classy Chics