The Vintage Springtime Club reviewed by Esther

The Vintage Springtime Club

Beatrice Meier

Hachette

RRP $37.99

This is a coming of age tale – but not as you’d expect it’s a coming of older age; and it’s a gem!

Ricarda, our protagonist, is an older woman who is delightful, insightful and well learned. Due to a fortunate, (or unfortunate) sequence of events she ends up flatting again, with some friends from university and some ‘new’ acquaintances.

The flatmates are an unlikely crew – but as with every flat I’ve ever lived in – that just seems to be what happens. There’s the funny one, the grumpy one, the life and soul of the party… It appears that no matter the age people who live together are complex and diverse and this makes for great alchemy!

Set in Cologne the novel has an undeniable European flavour and those lucky to have travelled will find themselves wandering down familiar streets – however, if you’ve not walked the cobbled streets of Europe, fear not  the author describes scenes beautifully and unless you’re cursed with a particularly poor imagination you too will be transported to a new world.

As you’d expect the flatting arrangement hits a major bump in the road and this, although later in the novel, is the real crux. Characters flaws and shortcomings are revealed and others are shown to be more than you’d expect.

Playing into some of our darkest fears about growing older The Vintage Springtime Club is a refreshing change from the dire and often morbid novels with older characters at its core. Whilst it certainly deals with some of the less glamourous aspects of ageing it manages to do so in a way that leaves you with hope for the future and a smile on your face.

This book is highly recommended and I hope that it is well read and enjoyed by readers young and old!

From the publishers website:

Newly retired Philip returns home to Cologne and is thrown into emotional turmoil upon bumping into his long-lost sweetheart. In the midst of a domestic crisis, Ricarda confides in Philip that she is looking for somewhere to live. And there and then, Philip suggests that she move in with him – he is setting up a flatshare. Will she join him with his mischievous dachshund named Ralf?

To his surprise, Ricarda agrees, leaving Philip to scramble together a crew of retires in time for spring, for the most unlikely of social experiments. There’s grumpy cigarette-smoking grandfather Harry; quiet and discreet Eckart, curiously carting around his late wife’s headstone; Uschi, brimming with life, harbouring a passion for leotards and aerobics, along with sausages and outrageous knitting patterns; and then, ever-practical and warm-hearted Ricarda, towards whom Phillip is developing real feelings.Despite their differences, the flatmates thrive and embark on a series of new adventures. But when Uschi falls unwell, familiar cracks begin to show and this uniquely spirited club of friends must work together in order to survive – and truly blossom.

About the author:

Beatrice Meier was born in Germany and studied literary translation at Dusseldorf University. She then went on to complete a scriptwriting programme at Munich Film School in 2002-03, and attended the Cologne International Film School in 2006. She won the Best Screenplay Award at the German Film Festival in Ludwigshafen in 2013 for the feature film Offside Trap, which was screened at festivals, the European Parliament and at trade union events. The Vintage Springtime Club is her first novel. A German television adaptation was broadcast in spring 2015. Beatrice Meier lives and works in Strasbourg.

About Esther Perriam

Esther Perriam is a Director of Eldernet. She’s worked in the business for over 15 years and has been lucky to visit many of the older person’s services around the country. She’s never short of an opinion on…pretty much anything. Esther really loves reading and you’ll see plenty of book reviews authored by her. As a mother of two children there’s not much free time but if there is she also enjoys cooking (for grown-ups, not the kids!) and anything beach related in her spare time. Esther has presented at conferences around New Zealand and is happy to be contacted in regards to speaking or presenting at your event.