Last week you may recall that I talked about a lovely coming of age novel for those of us in the second half of life: Iona Iverson’s Rules for Commuting. This week I would like tell you about another novel from the same genre that I read over the summer: How the Penguins Saved Veronica by Hazel Prior.
The curmudgeonly but loveable Veronica McCreedy sits down one evening to watch a documentary about a penguin colony in Antarctica, only to find herself inexorably drawn to these adorable little creatures. In fact, she contemplates leaving her vast fortune to the team of scientists who work at the base. Just to be sure that this is the best use of her money, she resolves to visit the isolated outpost, even though the scientists strongly urge her not to come to their extremely remote, cramped, and humble rustic abode. But Veronica does not listen.
Thus begins an adventure that takes Veronica from the comforts of her lovely estate in Ayrshire, Scotland to the opposite ends of the earth. The adventure, however, turns out to be less about geography and more about an exploration into the human heart. Not only does Veronica connect with a grandson she did not even know she had, but she also rescues and befriends a tiny, orphaned penguin who works his way into her heart and the hearts of all the scientists at the base. As she reflects on her long life, with its sorrows and disappointments, Veronica discovers new purpose and for the first time feels that her life has meaning and worth. More importantly, she finds her family.