Advantages of the Older Man by Gwyneth Lewis

by Amy Pirt

On receiving this boldly green book, I was rather curious as to its content. Its retro cover, along with the shocked face of the lady on the front, suggested to me a saucy seaside tale of age gap romance. This just proves, dear reader, that one should never judge a book by it’s cover.

Jennie has returned to her hometown of Swansea, tired of the squalid East London bedsits she has been inhabiting. Despite her lack of interest in her town’s most famous export, she gets a job at the local Dylan Thomas museum. She also joins a local poetry society, where she quickly develops an obsession with Peter, who does not reciprocate her affections. Desperate to win him over, she dresses up as a Muse at the carnival. When this fails, she and a friend summon the ghost of Dylan Thomas (obviously!), who will surely make an excellent matchmaker.

This novella is charming and bizarre in equal measure. I found the writing overwrought at times, but perhaps this was deliberate on Lewis’s part, in order to reflect Jennie’s eccentricities which isolate her from her peers. Yes, I guessed the twist, but this did not detract from my enjoyment of the odd couple’s escapades, including joining a funfair and a flight to New York.

Many thanks to Seren Books for the review copy.