Just an Odd Job Girl 24

Book Review:

Just an Odd Job Girl


Sally Cronin


I have known Imogens all my working life; women in their middle years with varying circumstances. Through death or divorce some have no partner. Others are married, happy or otherwise. But the husband is working and the children grown and gone. An empty nest is not enough. They are treading water by keeping busy with house and garden. Suddenly life seems finite and infinitely more precious for being so.

Wondering what to do, they realise over the decades they lost who they were. They consider getting back to work, or volunteering, which let’s face it, is work without pay. But they are useless. What can they do?

The fact they managed a home for years, often on a shoestring; marshalling their brood like a one woman army: general, peacekeeper, chauffeur, educator, charwoman, laundress, chief cook and bottle-washer; that they balanced budgets with the deftness of a corporate executive, counts for nothing in their eyes.

Imogen is a woman coming out of mid-life crisis. Her kids are gone, as is her husband. His mid-life crisis meant an affair with a younger woman and now there’s a baby on the way. Her pregnant rival has her eye on Imogen’s house, and life. Imogen really needs to do the decent thing and make herself scarce.

So there’s the inevitable divorce and settlement; a new little house, big enough for one, and enough money to live on. All generously done: like any redundancy package. Maybe Imogen’s husband wonders what more she needs?

How about a life?

In any healthy person, grief, whatever the cause, bereavement or betrayal, eventually ebbs. You see it wasn’t your fault and there is no reason for moping, comfort eating, letting yourself go, or hiding away. You start to take stock, wondering, what’s next? But you’re scared.

Imogen thinks a job might fill the empty days. But her confidence is at rock bottom. I mean, what can she do?

With courage in both hands she takes the first step and goes to a small local temping agency advertised in the paper. Dressed in the last decent outfit she can squeeze into, Imogen is shown into the boss’s office.

He seems pleasant; genuinely interested. But that’s his job isn’t it: assessing the suitability of candidates. To make her feel at ease he asks: Tell me about your work experience. Imogen hesitates. The last time she worked was before she married. That’s a good place to start, he re-assures her.


* * *

One of my favourite types of novel is a bildungsroman. It is a posh word for a coming of age book where a youngster grows by overcoming challenges and facing responsibilities.

So what’s that to do with a middle-aged woman?

I’ll tell you.

Only by reacquainting herself with the girl she was, can Imogen leave the recent past and become the woman she is in her own right. Not a wife, not a mother; Imogen.

I admit I am prejudiced when it comes to Sally Cronin. This is the third of her books I have read and reviewed. Each and every one has been a delight. However, this is my favourite.

Sally Cronin skilfully plays emotions like a virtuoso, drawing the reader into characters’ lives; making them part of you. It is written with her usual lean elegant prose and easy readability. There is a host of likeable warm characters; witty turns of phrase and comic situations that leave you smiling or laughing out loud.

As a woman of mid-life, finding her feet, most of us readily identify with Imogen, if not for ourselves, then maybe because our loved ones have been through something similar; while, heart-broken, we helplessly watched them struggle and prayed they would not fail.

In an entertaining light-hearted way, and without a hint of preaching, Sally Cronin gives valuable life lessons with Imogen. And in the end makes Imogen’s triumphs our own.

I started out saying I met many Imogens in my life. I will end by saying it is nice to finally meet the original. I feel like I have a new friend.

This is a highly recommended and unputdownable read. It is light enough for the bus to work, lounging by a pool on holiday or even with your morning coffee and guilty biscuit.

Out of FIVE STARS I give it…


What else!

24 thoughts on “Just an Odd Job Girl

  1. Reply P. J. Lazos Jun 6,2017 4:30 pm

    What a fantastic review. I’m off to Amazon to purchase this now!

    • Reply Paul Jun 7,2017 11:48 pm

      It is a brilliant read Pj. One that fills you full of hope and a sense of redemption. I can imagine this being one of those go to books you read again and again when life feels like its wearing you down.

  2. Reply Shehanne Moore May 9,2017 11:23 pm

    What a great review Paul. I think you deserve five stars for this. Sally congrats. congrats. xxxx

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  4. Reply Tina Frisco May 5,2017 3:18 pm

    Terrific review, Paul. I’m sure have made Imogen proud ♥

  5. Reply Luna Saint Claire (@Compelled_Books) May 4,2017 4:53 pm

    After reading this awesome review I just jumped right over to Amazon and One-Clicked! How can you not? I too am a fan of bildungsroman. And I feel that one can “come of age” at any age…. In life, we need to keep learning and evolving our spirit and souls. I can’t wait to begin Just an Odd Job Girl.

    • Reply Paul May 5,2017 1:00 am

      Dear Luna, what you said about coming of age at anytime of life is very wise, I am right with you on that if our spirits cannot continue to learn and evolve what is the point. You won’t be disappointed with Just an Odd Job Girl. I tone the review down a bit because I did not want to sound too gushy…. Sally is a marvelous writer and for me this is a definite bestseller…. Enjoy

      • Reply Luna Saint Claire (@Compelled_Books) May 5,2017 4:05 pm

        Paul – thanks for chatting on spiritual development and what it means to come of age… i would love for you to read The Sleeping Serpent because it addresses this issue of “what are we searching for?” The book can be compared to several — from The Wizard of Oz to Anna Karenina and the more recent, Big Little Lies. I hope the popularity of Big, Little Lies has let readers and viewers understand that abuse can happen to anyone if you have lost your self-worth. We often search for validation, approval, appreciation or even excitement externally and our fears, whether of aging or becoming invisible make us vulnerable to seduction (The “wizard” or Count Vronsky. I haven’t read Sally’s book yet, but based on what I read above, I feel like Luna, the character, and Luna, the author, have finally found a comfortable place being “of a certain age” that the beauty that can always be found within the everlasting beauty of wisdom and spirit.

  6. Reply Sally Cronin May 3,2017 7:50 pm

    Thank you for the kind words everyone.. this one was close to my heart.

  7. Reply Robbie Cheadle May 3,2017 6:58 pm

    Fantastic review of Sally’s book, Paul. I didn’t really know about this one but it sounds right up my street. I am definitely going to get this straight away.

    • Reply Paul May 3,2017 7:18 pm

      Robbie, it really is a lovely book. Tender, uplifting and empowering, not to mention down right comical. A huge favourite with me

  8. Reply susan scott May 3,2017 10:23 am

    Thanks for this review – I’ve read her ‘What’s in a Name’ and loved it. I must check whether I’ve reviewed it. This one I will look out for.

    • Reply Paul May 3,2017 7:43 pm

      I can’t say too much about it Susan without spoiling the whole marvelous ride but it is a lovely book, tender, uplifting and empowering. Honestly when It didn’t have me smiling I was laughing out loud. I cannot recommend it enough. As I said to Sally the only problem is it is about 1,000 pages too short. I never wanted it to end.

  9. Reply newsspellcom.org May 3,2017 12:06 am

    Bildungsroman-one doesn’t often see that word deployed in a book review-kudos!

  10. Reply Sally Cronin May 2,2017 11:18 pm

    I will let Imogen reply to this lovely review Paul since there is much of my early life in her story.

    Thank you for seeing the woman beneath the middle-aged spread, laughter lines and loss of dreams. The woman who gets her hair restyled and defiantly goes to the makeup counter for a makeover. The girl who still exists who was adventurous, funny and was respected for the jobs that she did. The romantic who still believes in happy ever after and that you are never too old to find happiness. Thank you for reading every line and laughing with me… and saying such lovely things about my story.. Imogen.. xxx ♥

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