Books for Older Readers: A Blogger’s Perspective #blogblitz @older_readers @LindaMac1 @MaggieChriste33 @Campbama #olderreaders

By | August 8, 2019

I’m delighted today to be part of the blog blitz for Books for Older Readers, and my thanks to Claire Baldry for the invitation. If you haven’t yet discovered the website or the Facebook group, I’d really urge you to take a look. Although I read widely and write about every book I love, I most certainly qualify as an “older reader” (64th birthday approaching rather more quickly than I’d like it to!): you’ll find so many books I’ve enjoyed on the website, and I suspect those rather younger might also find books that pique their interest. The group and website were established in October 2017 – I can still remember my excitement – to promote books (mainly fiction) with older protagonists or themes such as ‘second chances’, which can particularly appeal to readers in mid-life or beyond.

I’ll tell you more about them next week, and will revisit a post I wrote back at the very beginning – but today I thought I’d take a closer look at some personal favourites among the books and authors featured on the website. I originally planned to re-share a single review – and then I went through the sheer agony of trying to decide which book to choose, as I’ve enjoyed so many. So instead, I decided to spotlight a few – and then felt the pain again when I really wanted to include every single one I’d reviewed…

But the first author I’d like to introduce you to is Linda MacDonald, whose books have brought me such immense reading pleasure. I first “met” Linda back in March 2017 when I had the pleasure of hosting a guest post, inspired by a Woman’s Hour discussion, on taking a second chance on love – you can read that excellent article again here. It made me very much want to read her books: the first I read was her fourth, The Man in the Needlecord Jacket, and I knew I’d found an author I loved. You can read my full review again here, but here’s a taster…

This book was such a breath of fresh air, something a little different, and such an enjoyable read.

What the author does so very well is to lay before us real people – people we recognise, who behave as real people do. And real people sometimes behave badly, make you shake your head in disbelief, sometimes drive you to the moral high ground when you disapprove of their actions, and sometimes make you feel very uncomfortable when you see them making mistakes you might well have made yourself. They experience self doubt, disappointment and heartbreak – and moments of sheer joy. This book captures it all, wrapped around a fascinating story – no massive fireworks, just life and relationships presenting opportunities and challenges that the characters negotiate and deal with in their own ways.

And I really must mention the strength of the writing – smoothly readable, easy to lose yourself in the story, humour and outrage sitting comfortably side by side… I often say that for a book to really impress me it needs to engage my emotions, win my heart, and move me – but I’m always rather pleased when it engages my brain a little too. This delightful book delivered on every level…

Every one of Linda’s books is entirely readable as a standalone, but I decided to go back to the beginning – and I was every bit as impressed by Meeting Lydia, A Meeting of a Different Kind and The Alone Alternative. My personal favourite? Only by a whisker, but I think it might just have been The Alone Alternative

The progression of (the relationship), with the possibility of a happy ending for them both, had an authenticity I could completely identify with and really feel. By the time you reach the late summer of life, so much personal baggage has accumulated that the prospect of change can be terrifying – and as Edward and Marianne explore their options, advancing by a few steps then repeatedly faltering, continually questioning their choices, this was an immensely engaging read.

The author’s descriptive powers are breath-taking – her descriptions draw in the emotions her characters are feeling, and are immensely powerful… When Edward and Marianne “breathe the salty air and gaze across the beginnings of the wide Atlantic to an ocean of unseen delights”, my heart sang for them. This was a book I really loved.

You can read my full review – together with another of A Meeting of a Different Kindhere. And the review of the first, Meeting Lydia? You’ll find that here. The way the author takes you inside her characters is exceptional – sharing their thoughts, feeling their doubts and emotions, identifying with situations that are wholly recognisable and vividly real. Very highly recommended – and very much books that sum up what “books for older readers” should be.

Another author whose books never fail to delight me is Maggie Christensen. Her first appearance on Being Anne was in November 2017, when she contacted me – I think as a direct result of Books for Older Readers – to ask if her books might appeal to me, and we shared a rather lovely interview. And oh my goodness, her books most certainly did prove to be exactly what I was looking for. The first I read was The Good Sister – perhaps not entirely typical because of its dual time thread, but I immediately knew I’d found another author who wrote books I wanted to read…

The description of this book had hooked me before I’d even read the first page – and once I did… I felt quite bereft every time I had to put the book down. I’m always a complete pushover for dual time stories, but I particularly enjoy it when both threads are as engaging as they are in this book – there’s a smoothness about the transition between past and present that never once had me feeling “wrenched” from the story I was following, I enjoyed both, and became equally emotionally attached to both Isobel and Bel…

The present day story was enhanced so much by the fact that Bel was so easy to identify with – in terms of both age and life experience – and I loved reading about her attraction to the rather gorgeous Matt at a point when she’d thought she was beyond such things. The whole thread is beautifully handled – the tentative early steps, the doubts, the obstacles, the family reaction – and I smiled along with Bel’s ailing aunt, encouraging the relationship from the sidelines and seeing her careful planning working out.

This is a book full of warmth and love and relationships and echoes of the past that make you smile while bringing a tear to your eye, and one that I really didn’t want to end. Just wonderful.

You can read my full review here. I went on to equally enjoy Isobel’s Promise, A Model Wife (review here) and A Single Woman (review here). And, lest you worry, they’re all perfect as stand-alone reads, but with key characters in common that only added to my enjoyment. My personal favourite? That’s a difficult one – but I think it might have been Isobel’s Promise

I know some people doubt the immense appeal for the older reader of a book where characters are at mid-life or beyond and share many of life’s experiences – after all, we were all young once, weren’t we? But it’s just wonderful to open a book and find that you can totally identify with its central characters, recognise their concerns and responses, understand their dilemmas. I loved watching the relationship between Matt and Bel develop in The Good Sister, and took them to my heart – and it was such a pleasure to join them again, although apart for much of the story, as they negotiate life’s obstacles in anticipation of their own happy ending.

This is such a well told story, wrapping you up and moving you through every twist and turn, every practical and emotional moment authentically drawn, characters you really take to your heart. As an older reader, I’d recommend it without reservation – as a reader of an engaging story with strong characters you can really care about and believe in, facing the kind of everyday issues everyone does, believing in the possibility of second chances, my recommendation would be the same.

You can read my full review here – and if you try any of her books, I promise you won’t be disappointed. Clicking on the image below will take you to Maggie’s Amazon UK author page.

I’d love to feature all my favourite authors that appear on Books for Older Readers, but I really only have room for one more – and I think I’ll make it an author whose books might not be quite as familiar. I came across Christine Campbell‘s lovely writing after an introduction through the Books for Older Readers Facebook page – there’s only one review on Being Anne (so far), of Gold Plated, but this book was everything I look for in my reading.

As the excitement and anticipation builds with the approach of the anniversary party, and we get to know Rosanna and her family, the story slips back to 1964 to explore their earlier lives and all the twists and turns of life that brought them to this point. The music of the time works well as a soundtrack for the optimism of youth, the attraction of the unattainable, the naive infatuation, the betrayal and reconciliation, and the sewing together of a web of secrets that has repercussions down the years.

The scenes on which the story turns are vividly drawn – with a cinematic quality and emotional impact that delivers a tremendous punch. And the story that follows is one that any older reader will absolutely identify with as I did, with an exceptional authenticity about the relationships, actions and depth of feeling. There were times when I found myself aching inside – but there were other points when I rejoiced over small victories and forward steps that really touched my heart.

And I really must mention… the author’s exceptional powers of description, which transport you into the heart of the story. It creates that important difference between reading – and being at a distance from the story – and being able to feel it. Textures of fabric, the different nuances of colour, the varieties of brushstrokes, the small but significant details that bring a scene into being – this was very accomplished writing, and a joy to experience.

You can read the full review here. I’ve since had the pleasure of being an “early reader” of one of her books not yet published, and know I’ve found another favourite author. I haven’t yet managed to fit in her latest, A Mountain of Memories (available free via Kindle Unlimited) – but she’s certainly an author whose books I’ll be very much looking forward to reading again. And if you click on the image below, it’ll take you to Christine’s Amazon page where there are so many other books to choose from…

And I think I must finish by apologising to all those many favourite authors whose books I haven’t been able to include in this feature – and I’m not going to even try to list their names, lest I accidentally leave one out. But you’ll find so many of my personal favourites on the Book for Older Readers website… you will take a look, won’t you? The blog blitz will continue until the end of August – here are the stops for the first week…

10 thoughts on “Books for Older Readers: A Blogger’s Perspective #blogblitz @older_readers @LindaMac1 @MaggieChriste33 @Campbama #olderreaders

    1. Anne Post author

      Monthly feature I think, Linda – there are so many other favourites I’d have liked to include!

  1. jena c. henry

    Awesome! Thanks Anne! I happen to know an older reader, ahem! I will be checking out the website.

  2. Pingback: Books for Older readers (BFOR) BlogBlitz Day #04 | Frank Prem Poetry

    1. Anne Post author

      Thank you Frank – much appreciated!

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