These Foolish Things
From every angle you discuss the matter, old age is a very un-sexy issue. Surprisingly, as you move along in your reading of "These Foolish things" sex is in fact quite a subject.
The book starts with a story that sounds familiar - wasn't it just last winter when I read this tale in the newspapers - an old lady lying in a hospital corridor does not get treated by the medical staff and the newspapers are out, once again, to blame the system ...
Ravi Kapoor, the over-worked Indian doctor in charge of the elderly woman gets a lot of bad publicity. He himself knows the truth, Muriel Donnelly, the old lady, did not want to get treatment from "those darkies". This whole affair comes at a very bad time for Ravi. His father-in-law, a typical "dirty old man" is staying at his house, after being thrown, again, from another retirement home. Here however comes the unexpected twist. Ravi's cousin comes out with a genius idea: move a group of British senior citizens, just like Ravi's father-in-law to India where labor is cheap and elders are treated with respect, and create a Little England in India. The old folks will never know the difference. The cousin is very convincing, he knows just the right place and the right people to manage the establishment...he is a man who dwells on "arranging". What if the ends are not loosely tied...Ravi is captured in his enthusiasm.
This is a story about old age but also about personal revelation and self discovery that sometimes need the mediation of a different place. This is what India manages to do in this book and its influences on the group of elderly people and one doctor is the essence of this lovely story.
Deborah Moggach is funny and gives you a very detailed and understandable description. You feel you have met, at least once in your life, most of the characters she talks about, although they are not stereotypes. Moggach presents a host of characters that is about to occupy the Indian retirement home and brings each personal story - then we read about them in their new home, far far away...or maybe not?
I give the story 4 out of 5 points as the story is interesting, even educational, and very entertaining. It does tend however to slip towards some very easy soap opera solutions. I have to say that the story is comforting in the sense it is filled with a lot of vivacity and life force and there is (almost) nothing of the despair of old age. On the other hand, this is also the reason why the story is not totally convincing. Nevertheless, quite lovely.