When I saw that Whenever You’re Ready was written as “a love letter to the lives of older women”, I jumped at the chance to read it. Books about the rich and varied interior lives of older women are all too rare – they’re usually depicted as objects of pity or lonely and miserable crones, rather than anything resembling reality. So, I was delighted when my friends at Allen & Unwin sent me a copy for review.

From the blurb: “An unexpected death finds Lizzie, Alice, and Margot at various crossroads in their lives, torn between looking back and moving on.” That makes Whenever You’re Ready sound very similar to one of my all-time favourite books, The Weekend by Charlotte Wood, but my reading experience of them was poles apart.

Whenever You’re Ready is every bit as dramatic as novels about women in their 30s, with in-fighting and infidelity and shocking revelations galore. The characters get a bit muddled at first, so if you’re struggling to keep them straight as it all plays out, it’s not just you. It’s quite a wistful read, even with everything going on in the plot. There’s a lot of hand-wringing about romance and aging. It’s highly readable, but not particularly deep.

Before you pick it up, you should check the trigger warnings (especially for death/suicide and grief), as there are quite a few scenes in Whenever You’re Ready that are pretty heavy going. There was also a lot of inherent ableism that I found really concerning. It wasn’t a terrible read, but if I’m honest, I expected more from this “love letter” to post-menopausal life.

Buy Whenever You’re Ready on Booktopia here. (affiliate link)
Read Whenever You’re Ready on audiobook via Libro.fm here. (affiliate link)