Spring Has Sprung

Spring!! The time of renewal, rebirth, youth! Youth and spring go together like salt and pepper. So do youth and romance novels. In the 35+ years I have been reading romance I have read countless stories of 20-somethings finding each other. Sometimes we get a book with a 30-something, and rarely do we ever see women over 40 finding romance. That is changing, thankfully. See the list at the end.

There is something fascinating about one’s 20s. Most of us reading romance have been there, or aspire to be there. When I was a teen reading about young women in elegant ball gowns fluttering fans and  trading bon mots with Earls and Dukes, I was eager to be old enough to trade bon mots with my own love interests. My 20s turned out to be a blur of child-raising. I know others for whom the 20s was a blur of working or partying or name-your-activity.

Many of us did find someone then, amid the blur, with varying degrees of success, and, sadly, no fluttering fans. Thankfully in my case there were, and are, bon mots. Many of us didn’t find someone then, or found two or three someones. Regardless, demographically, the 20s is a shared decade- whether we are mired in it or admiring it from afar, whether for the energy, the reliable body parts, or just the idea of having more life in front of you than behind.

It makes sense that books featuring 20-somethings sell well and readers and writers gravitate toward them. However, there is often so much more depth, freedom, and abundance to characters who have been through a few more seasons. Characters who have known triumph and loss, love and heartbreak. Characters whose bodies don’t always work exactly right, or who get interrupted frequently by children or aging parents, or who have the issues that go with widowhood or other kind of end to a long-term relationship.

While I enjoy a youthful romance as much as the next person, I was delighted recently to pick up a couple of romances with women who have some baggage in life. They come with a lot of life behind them and a lot of love and happiness ahead of them.

Hooked on You by Jenn Matthews features two middle-aged women with meddling children and a grandmotherly hobby, crochet. 73324671-6B0A-4342-BDFB-E10BCE46955EBeing a long-time crocheter (since I was 9), I especially enjoyed the scenes in Ollie’s shop as she teaches Anna the different stitches. The book also features a delightful array of secondary characters.

 

Twice in a Lifetime by Jodie Griffin features Eve and Talia, discovering and exploring a passion that sparked fifteen years previously. Both of these characters are well-rounded with full lives. 1EDF9B17-8A69-4141-99A4-D21600BE53E6Neither is really looking and I love romance that comes out of nowhere to surprise both women.

 

 

 

 

I asked The Lesbian Review Book Club and some other friends for books that have come out in the past year or so that feature at least one woman over the age of 40. Here are a bunch of them:

The Music and the Mirror and Major Surgery by Lola Keeley

Write Your Own Script by A.L. Brooks

Chain Reactions by Lynn Ames

Lee Winter’s books- almost all of them.

Beowulf for Cretins by Ann McMan (get this one in audio – I’ve already listened to it 4 times)

The Goodmans by Clare Ashton

Jen Silver’s books feature many women over 40

Dingo’s Recovery by Genevieve Fortine

A Wish Upon A Star by Jeanne Levig and most of her other books

Choices by Lyn Gardner

Harper Bliss Pink Bean series

I’m Gonna Make You Love Me by Tracey Richardson

The True Heart series by Saxon Bennett and Layce Gardner

Mrs. Martin’s Incomparable Adventure by Courtney Milan

Scout and Lavender Girl by Kelly Littleton

Healing Springs by Rhavensfyre

Mulligan by KG MacGregor

Such Happiness as This by Laina Villeneuve

And for other recommendations check out Lee Winter’s blog post “Is Lesbian Fiction Ageist?…” and The Lesbian Review Book Club 40+ Archives.

 

 

 

 

 

3 comments

  1. Thanks for the mention, Ann. My books do all feature women over 40 (apart from Changing Perspectives – but that one is set in 1993 – so the characters are well over 40 now!). Although my characters may have had previous relationships, the stories generally have them finding or rediscovering the ‘love of their life’. I think the only exception is Galen in Calling Home who is in her mid-forties before finding love.

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  2. Thanks for writing about this topic.

    It’s my contention that REPRESENTATION means so much to so many readers of romance fiction. As lesbian writers experience life after fifty, perhaps more of us will write novels with characters in our age group.Two of my novels, THE BUTTERFLY MOMENTS and THE RULES feature main characters who are in the midst of their “seasoned seasons.” A few of Becky Birtha’s short stories in her collection, FOR NIGHTS LIKE THIS ONE, explore the lives of older lesbians. A few of the pieces in OUR HAPPY HOURS, LGBT VOICES FROM THE GAY BARS (S. Renée Bess and Lee Lynch, co-story collectors,) are written from the perspective of older characters.

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  3. In my experience there are more books that have “older” characters than one would think and there are more and more coming out. Good list Anne. Off the top of my head I would add Kate Sweeney and Jane Retzig to your list. Both authors have novels with older main characters.

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