Lunch at the Piccadilly
Clyde Edgerton (Adult Fiction)
Carl Turnage is watching his beloved Aunt Lil—the last leaf of his family tree—slowly slip through his fingers. Seeing that she is no longer safe living alone in her apartment and quite unreliable behind the wheel of her car, Carl sends her to a convalescent home to recuperate after suffering from a fall. There she joins several other residents including Flora Talbert (who owns four colored housecoats and has an obsession with footwear), Clara Cochran (has a glass eye and a penchant for spewing obscenities), Maudie Lowe (the little woman), Beatrice Satterwhite (owns the “Cadillac” of walkers), and L. Ray Flowers (who is quick with a sermon and always looking for a song). Despite the laidback atmosphere that Rosehaven Convalescence Center offers, Aunt Lil isn’t ready to take it easy just yet. She wants adventure and she is bound and determined to find it…one way or another.
Lunch at the Piccadilly clocks in at 238 pages (not counting the Epilogue). After reading ninety-three percent of the book, it inexplicably fell apart. It was absolutely agonizing to see this witty and charming book careen so horribly and fatally off course. The last few pages lacked what the entire book simply overflowed with: heart and soul. Edgerton’s novel was a poignant, funny (with a few laugh-out-loud moments), and compassionate book with characters dealing with loss of mobility, loss of independence, and loss of memory. He gives us several women with an insatiable zest for life, but know that the mortality clock is ticking louder and louder with each passing day. Why this same passion and fervor failed to carry through until the last page is both confusing and disappointing. However, the ending wasn’t the only problem. There was also a salacious backstory that kept resurfacing throughout various points of the story. This past event between two of Rosehaven’s residents really had no purpose, lent no value to the story, and only managed to introduce some unneeded drama and friction. Also, L. Ray’s need to break out into lengthy religions sermons broke the momentum of the story and was irritating at best.
It truly was heartbreaking and frustrating to see a book with this much promise and value self-destruct so quickly. I felt a little duped in the emotional commitment I invested in caring about these sassy, snarky, and spirited seniors who are making the best of what little life they have left. In the end, I felt as if this book was like one of Rosehaven’s residents who stands steadfastly by the front door, waiting for visiting family or friends that will never come. No matter how many times I might flip back in the book, looking tirelessly for my sense of closure, I realize that that too will never come.
*Book cover image attributed to www.amazon.com