The Vintage Springtime Club follows a group of sixty-somethings as they move into a flat together. The flatshare is initiated on a whim by Philip after he bumps into friend and old flame Ricarda. Ricarda has just been told there is major work needing carried out on her flat and that she’ll need to move out for six months. Philip has recently inherited his mother’s large rambling apartment which he had been intending to sell but quickly decides on the flat share idea. He manages to find three other flatmates, three very different people, and so the story begins.
The chapters in the book are quite short and I did feel at first that I was struggling to get an idea of just who the characters were. I felt I didn’t have enough time to get to know each one before the book moved on to the next flatmate. However, they quickly became quite individual people in my mind and I enjoyed finding out not just how they were settling in but also their stories which had brought them to this point of sharing a flat in their sixties. It was good to read about older characters who were portrayed just as people with the same dreams and desires as anyone else.
Reading about the flatmates setting into their ‘vintage flatshare – the living arrangement of the future’ – put me in mind of students moving into flats at uni. There were readjustments and compromises needed by everyone. There were the same kinds of irritations over noise and who had used what food from the fridge. And Eckart bringing his wife’s headstone with him certainly raised a few eyebrows! Just as they have all come to a kind of easy tolerance of each other Uschi is taken ill and, when she returns from hospital, requires care which the flatmates are willing to provide but will this put too much strain on their friendship?
Simmering away in the background is the will-they-won’t-they relationship between Philip and Ricarda. Philip had been best friends with Ricarda’s husband when they were students years ago and carried a torch for her. He has lived and worked in Africa for over 30 years but the old attraction is still there. Ricarda is quite a contradictory character being so caring and helpful to her flatmates, particularly Uschi yet she has a difficult relationship with her daughter Stella. This is completely down to Ricarda as she just doesn’t make time to listen to her daughter. I felt so sorry for Stella as she was rather neglected and ignored by her mother. As a result, Ricarda finds out something rather important Stella had been trying to tell her from Philip, rather than from her daughter.
This gentle book is full of warmth and is an easy enjoyable read. It shows the value of friends no matter what age they might be and shows that life is full of possibilities and opportunities at any time.
My thanks to the publishers for giving me a copy of the book to review. The Vintage Springtime Club was published by Little Brown on 7th April 2016 in trade paperback and as an ebook. You can order a copy here: The Vintage Springtime Club
From the back of the book
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.