"Well now, prove it, Sheila. As John would say, 'Put your money where your mouth is. Be a depressed widow boring the arse off everyone, or get on with life. Your choice.'"
In The Two of Us, Sheila relived her life with John Thaw - years packed with love and family, delight and despair. And then she looked ahead. What next? Gardening, grannying and grumbling, while they all had their pleasures, weren't going to fill the aching void that John had left.
"Live adventurously", a Quaker advice, was hovering around her brain. Putting her and John's much loved house in France on the market, she embarked on a series of journeys. She tried holidaying alone, contending with invisibility and budget flights. She tried travelling in a group, but the questions she wanted to ask were never the ones the guide wanted to answer.
She tried relaxing - harder than you might think. Finally, heading out of her comfort zone, she found her travels, and the things she discovered, led her back to her past; to consider her generation - the last to experience the Second World War - and the kind of person it made her.
Just Me is a book about moving on, but it is also about looking back, and looking anew. Sheila, whether facing down burglars and Easyjet staff or making friends with waiters and taxi drivers, whether unearthing secrets in Budapest, getting arrested in Thailand, exulting in the art of Venice or searching for a decent cup of coffee in Dorset, is never less than stimulating company.
Honest - because if you can't say what you think at 73, when can you? - insightful and wonderfully down to earth, she is a woman seizing the future with wit, gusto and curiosity, on her own.
This is a sequel to 'The Two of us'. Really enjoyed it. Ms hancock is a great narrator of her own personal story after the death of John Thaw.
Such a well balanced and entertaining book written by one who has successfully journeyed through bereavement to emerge as a person who has worked hard to become able and ready to pick up and enjoy life albeit as an 'older' 'single' lady. Sheila writes with insight on just how difficult it can be to engage with society and friends after the death of a loved one, but also her insights help to speak into how it can be for anyone who lives life alone whether by choice or circumstances. A jolly good entertaining, very well read book that is sure to entertain.
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I admire Sheila Hancock for her acting & really enjoyed her previous book about her life with John Thaw. She pulled no punches then & doesn't in this book about learning to live without John. She is frank about grief but also able to celebrate joy. Also frank about he relationship with her daughters ie becoming clingy & feeling sorry for herself but coming through it & building something stronger. The 'surprising' part was her visits to Hungary & Germany & her graphic re-telling of the uprisings in the 1950s & how man Germans have or in some cases have not adjusted since the end of WW2.
Above all I loved her optimism & determination to live the final years of her life to the full. THIS BOOK IS WELL WORTH READING.
An excellent listen Sheila Hancock talks in a down to earth way about many of the subjects which interest me, the second world war, injustice, persecution and of course she offers no solution but there's food for thought. She also talks about lighter and humorous things and of course of grieving her beloved John . Altogether a great listen
If you could sum up Just Me in three words, what would they be?
As above in the title of the review! (Ok so it's four!) Shelia Hancock is honest, intelligent, reflective and thoughtful about who she is and this book encourages you to reflect on who you are.
What did you like best about this story?
A lot of biographies give you a glossed up version of themselves which just insults the reader . Shelia Hancock doesn't do this, she is unapologetic about who she is and what she thinks. It makes her a much more interesting person.
What about Sheila Hancock’s performance did you like?
As it was her own book - the expression was great.
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
There were lots of great parts that resonated with me. The 'phaw' bed, Shelia's feelings about war and the Germans, travelling alone and adjusting to a new phase in her life. All very moving.