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Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite
Cruise Time: Wrinkly Bits Book 1 by Gail Cushman is a comedic look at the life of our seniors, especially the part that few of us would wish to discuss – their sex lives. When three very different WWII veterans gather for a ship’s reunion and all meet for the first time, it is decided what fun it would be for the trio and their wives to go on a cruise together. Griff, a retired Idaho farmer, and his wife Audrey are settled into retirement and have never really been anywhere or done anything out of their beloved Idaho. Gus and Phyllis are retired schoolteachers who are now looking for adventure and maybe “a bit on the side,” but Gus’s overweight physical condition is not the greatest, which makes “pulling babes” a dream rather than a reality. Steve, a retired dentist, and his much younger wife Carlee join the other two couples on this adventure. Carlee is younger than the rest but even with her premature wrinkling and her alcoholic nature is out to find as much fun and adventure as she possibly can, to make up for what she is not receiving from Steve. As this unlikely group bonds and begins to discover each other in a hotel in Fort Lauderdale, prior to boarding the cruise ship, it is surprisingly Audrey who has the first potentially romantic encounter when she meets Logan, a distinguished, retired podiatrist who is immediately deeply attracted to her after four years of loneliness following the death of his beloved wife. As they board the ship, hi-jinks, comedy, and romance surely await these intrepid seniors as they set off on the cruise of a lifetime.
Cruise Time is genuinely hilarious and, as writing comedy and comedic situations is a difficult art to get right, author Gail Cushman must be given some serious kudos for this effort. The ensemble cast of characters is beautifully drawn and as different from each other as chalk and cheese. Yet thrown together in this zoo of a cruise ship, we can see true bonds being formed, as well as the typical flirting, jealousy, and romantic action you could well expect. I particularly loved the premise the writer was expounding in this narrative; that life and especially sensuality and sexual needs don’t just wither and die when we reach a certain age. While it is true that the body changes and slows down, Cushman’s characters show us that vibrancy, romance, and “doing the dirty” (as Griff would put it) can and should be a normal part of a senior lifestyle. I particularly enjoyed the character of Audrey and her “will I/won’t I” battle with regard to pursuing any relationship with Logan beyond that of friendship. The constant battle in her mind between her almost 50 years of marriage and her wedding vows against her intense desire to throw Logan on a bed and rip his clothes off was an absolute highlight of the narrative. As a wrinkly myself, I commend the author for choosing to highlight the mindset of most seniors, which no doubt would come as an enormous shock to our children, our grandchildren, and even our great-grandchildren. Yes, kids, we do still think about sex and yes, we do still have desires and feelings. Bravo to Gail Cushman. I enjoyed, chuckled, and occasionally belly-laughed over the farcical goings-on of this gang and look forward to much more from them in the future.