Welcome to Woodlands Nursing Home, where the thermostat is set to ‘meat and two veg’ weather, and even a bar of soap is considered a safety hazard. Some residents play by the rules. Others prefer to bend them. After all, Woodlands is a care home, not a prison, and in theory the residents are free to come and go as they please. But leaving isn’t always that simple.


By day, Woodlands is the perfect place for a nap. After dark, it’s time for Sister Bronwyn’s unofficial social club, ‘The Night Owls’. The maverick night nurse doesn’t believe in medication. She prefers to entertain the home’s many midnight wanderers with cocktails and canapés, poker and exotic dancing. As long as they are all back in their beds before morning, Management are none the wiser.


Meet Hattie and Walter.


Retired ornithologist and reclusive spinster Hattie Bloom prefers birds to people. Bird behaviour is logical. Human behaviour is a mystery. The feisty eighty-nine-year-old has no time for bingo or sing-alongs – she must go home as soon as possible to save the endangered owls nesting in her tree.


In the room next door, ninety-year-old Walter Clements models himself on Steve McQueen in The Great Escape and dreams of riding his electric mobility scooter to freedom. But the retired driving instructor must first pass a proficiency test otherwise the scooter – nick-named ‘The Tesla’ – has to go back to the showroom.


When Sister Bronwyn is dismissed over an unfortunate incident, Woodlands descends into nocturnal chaos. Hattie, Walter and their partner-in-crime Murray, join forces to have her reinstated. Would-be sleuth Walter and forthright Hattie each have their own plan, but there’s one thing they all agree on: “Everyone expects so little of us. That’s our secret weapon.”


Joanna introduces her latest book


"One of the funniest and moving books this year"

Indira Naidoo, ABC Radio Nightlife

"A powerful work wrapped in a gentle cover of affection and fun...This is a wise, kind and insightful writer..."

Living Arts Canberra

"Sharp dialogue, wit and heart-warming emotion make The Great Escape From Woodlands Nursing Home the perfect weekend read."

Better Reading

"This novel is a's honest, hopeful, sad and hilarious."

Napier Courier