Wednesday, August 3, 2016

LOVE IN THE GOLDEN YEARS by Hannah Rowan


Last month we learned that Mick Jagger, at the age of 73, is about to become a father for the eighth time.

And we heard a collective “eeeeuuuuwwww” across cyberspace.

Say we forget that the baby-mama is younger than four of Jagger’s other children.  Say we just focus on Daddy’s age here.

(Clearly he’s not going to have a child with someone his own age.  And it’s a good guess this wasn’t a planned event.  And love…?  Maybe not here.)

What if we think about people Jagger’s age falling in love? Or even people a decade or two younger?  Does that also elicit a collective “eeeeuuuwwww”?

It very well may.

In this age when every sexual and gender permutation is celebrated, perhaps the last taboo is love in the sunset years.

At my day job in an assisted living facility, I see romance happening all the time.  Widows and widowers in their eighties and nineties holding hands, and sometimes more than that.   

The urge to have a life-partner never seems to subside.  Or maybe the urge for just a harmless bit of flirtation.

Once upon a time a few publishing houses tried to publish books aimed at a population older than your average romance hero and heroine.  “Second Chance at Love” was a line published for a very brief time by Berkeley.  The line folded fairly quickly, and those heroes and heroines were in…gasp…their forties most of the time.  Too old?  Nobody wants to think about people the age of their parents falling in love, never mind actually having sex.

But as the Baby Boom generation reaches those exalted numbers, is it possible this will change?

According to statistics published on Romance Writers of America’s website, the average age of romance readers is between thirty-four and fifty.  And I’d venture a guess that aside from characters such as Stephanie Plum’s Grandma Mazur, “dirty old ladies” who provide a bit of levity, nobody that age wants to hear about Granny (or Gramps) having a hot time.

Recently Huffington Post highlighted photos by Jade Beall, a photographer based in Tuscon, Arizona--portraits of a couple who have been together for over 20 years. In the photos, Gerry (75) and Darwin (70) are shown in all their naked glory, quite happily embracing and with their love for each other clearly evident from their facial expressions.

Not rock stars trying to hang on to their youths by cavorting with people young enough to be their grandchildren, but just regular people living their lives, pretty much the way our we want our heroes and heroines to do.

Will this catch on, do you suppose?  Will the romance genre change to acommodate the Boomers? With young adult and new adult novels the hottest new trend in romance, is there room in the romance community for people to have a second or even third chance to fall in love?

6 comments:

  1. Nan Reinhardt writes protagonists of "a certain age," and so do several others. And a lot of us want to! The publishers aren't quite going along with the program, though. Harlequin's NEXT imprint was wonderful, but so short-lived.

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  2. Interesting post, Hannah, and a fascinating photo. You know, I keep hearing about the "Ewwwww" factor when it comes to older protangonists, and that really bugs me. Not everyone who has sex is gorgeous and perfect, even when they're young. And sex is not about bodies, it's mostly about minds, so what I see as beautiful may cause someone else to say, "Ewww." My point being, sex is a human thing, not an age thing. Thanks for reminding us that, as I always say, love never ages. ;-)

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  3. I plan to spend my golden years with my husband/soulmate of 45 yrs. But when I read romance, I don't want to read about the golden years. I want the excitement, passion and thrill of those first loves. Throw in a little suspense, and I'm a happy reader. :-)

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  4. Very thouht provoking, Hannah. There have been some great movies with interesting mature characters. I always hope the readers follow suit. Love the photo. Love truly knows no age.

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  5. Most humans if they have had great sex will continue wanting the sexual experience. Age has nothing to do with it. I usually have either middle-aged or elderly characters in all my books who have love affairs. It's just part of life.

    Now, on a side note, I've got to admit that having seen the photo of the two lovers, I'm feeling pretty good about the way I look in comparison. *LOL*

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  6. As someone who has found the love of my life within the past year--and I'm pushing 60 -- I wholeheartedly agree. Love knows no age. Also, there is a group on facebook that is really pushing the "seasoned romance" novel. If you search for Seasoned Romance on facebook, you can probably find it. Great group.

    Maddie, whose latest release is about a 20 year old but she was fun to write too. :)

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