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Five Books Featuring Strong Older Women


So many books feature young women having adventures, romances and generally a good old time whilst the older women are side-lined to looking after the grandchildren and ‘bustling’. Apparently we love to bustle us older women, making tea, calming nerves and dabbing a hankie to our tearstained cheek when we’re told bad news.  Of course, it’s enlightening and enjoyable to read all sorts of books, fiction and non-fiction, from worthy tomes to a bit of chick lit featuring women in their twenties and thirties, after all we were that age once and I believe that we are all the ages we have ever been. Sometimes, though, it’s heartening to curl up with a book where the chief protagonist is your age or older. It’s fun and inspiring to read books where the main character is an older woman having all the fun and drama. Here are five books which are fun, intriguing and feature colourful characters who just happen to be older women:

Five French Hens by Judy Leigh

When 73 year old Jen announces that she is going to marry Eddie, a man she met only a few months previously, her four best friends from aqua aerobics are astounded but rise to the occasion by helping Jen arrange a fantastic hen party in Paris. From misadventures in the Louvre to outrageous Parisian cabarets, the women have the time of their lives and return home with very different dreams to the ones they went with. You will be cheering for these women and revelling in their friendships and shear joie de vivre. It bursts with warmth, humour and laugh out loud moments. When you have finished the book have a look on the author’s website to see who she would cast as the main characters if the book were to be made into a film (and it should be!). That quintessence of dust – The collected thoughts and musings of writer Judy Leigh. Food, film, football. Politics, plays and putting pen to paper.

  1. Grandmothers by Sally Vickers Grandmothers

This is the compelling story of three very different women and their relationship with the younger generation:  independent Nan, who leads a secret life as an award-winning poet when she is not teaching her grandson Billy how to lie; glamorous Blanche, deprived of the company of her adored granddaughter Kitty by her hostile daughter-in-law, who finds solace in drink and shoplifting and shy, bookish  Minna who shares her love of reading with her surrogate granddaughter Rose. The lives of these very different grandmothers eventually converge and themes of age, relationships and mortality are explored in this beautifully written, insightful novel.

  1. Saving Missy by Beth Morrey

Missy Carmichael’s life is spent grieving for a family she has lost or lost touch with, she is spiky and defensive and desperately lonely. However, a chance encounter in the park with two very different women opens the door to something new and little by little, Missy realises that another life beckons but only if she can be brave enough to grasp the opportunity. But is seventy-nine is too late for a second chance? Of course not because that wouldn’t be very uplifting and this book is, by the bucket load. Touching, endearing and thoughtful, celebrating older women and community spirit.

  1. Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman

I love everything this Swedish author has written. His books are quirky, funny and beautifully written. Britt- Marie is judgemental, fussy and very much an acquired taste. However, behind the extremely pedantic and passive aggressive busybody is a woman who has a bigger heart and greater dreams than anyone around her realises. After losing her job and becoming separated from her husband of twenty years, she finds herself running the local football team and learns that life has something to offer after all.  Totally captivating and I guarantee that after one Fredrick Backman book you will want to read them all.

  1. Where’d you go Bernadette? By Maria Semple

Bernadette Fox is a middle aged, troubled, agoraphobic prize winning architect who goes missing leaving her teenage daughter, Bee to piece together what has happened to her and to take a trip to the end of the earth to find her. Told in a series of emails and reports as her daughter tries to piece together what happened to her mother, this is a hilarious, poignant and compelling read. I read this at a gallop, finishing it in one sitting desperate to know what had happened to Bernadette but sad to leave her and Bee when I came to the end of their story.

It’s also worth noting that whatever you read, studies have shown that just six minutes of reading a day can reduce stress levels by 68 percent.

woman sitting on window holding book
Do you sit on a ledge in your undies reading a book?
Me neither.



Carole Ludlow

I was terrified of going through the menopause and whilst I glided through relatively unscathed, I didn't entirely escape its attempts to knock me down I firmly believe there is a positive side the menopause and to being an older woman in the 21st century. In my fifties I trained as a fitness instructor, which I did as a side hustle to my regular job of a college librarian. I also took up belly dancing and danced on stage in a city theatre and created my own fitness classes with hula hoops. Last year at the age of 61 I ditched the library job and now buy and sell vintage jewellery, run fitness classes and work part time from home in a customer services role. It ain't over till its over.

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