Older characters make for great stories. Their lives have been packed with happenings – a full spectrum of emotions and experiences to call upon and offer up to the reader. As Doris Lessing said, ‘The great secret that all old people share is that you really haven’t changed in seventy or eighty years. Your body changes but you don’t change at all’.
There are sad stories of loss and loneliness but much to celebrate too - good memories in family and friendship to balance the bad. With maturity there can be wisdom – and by choosing a book about an older character we open ourselves to share that special knowledge and perspective, acquired over many years of life. With age also comes frailty, exhaustion and debilitation – which can be distressing but also moving and profound. With death there is acceptance and sometimes even atonement – we might weep at the end, but then we wouldn’t be human if we didn’t. And sometimes that human connection is what we strive for in a book.