|Photo by Macomb Paynes.|
Novels featuring people in late adulthood address a number of themes: exploring mature love, renegotiating relationships with adult children, adjusting to age-related health challenges, role loss upon retirement, finally chasing a long-suppressed dream, reframing one's past, transmitting a legacy to the rising generation and more.
The characters in these novels have the advantage of decades of experience. I view them as experienced mountain climbers, taking in the view of the valley below.
From their vantage point of late life, they have insights about their own life to mull over. And they have greater perspective about the circle of life to share with others. If others will listen.
I am happy to recommend the following novels for people seeking to better empathize with mature men and to more readily accept the wisdom they have to offer. Sometimes it's easier to listen to the advice of a stranger than to one's own grandfather or father.
The book is divided into three sections: a quick overview of Ilych's achievements, his initial adjustment to his failing health, and then epiphanies he has in the last days and hours of his life. The novel is quite understated, but if readers look carefully, Ilych questions the values he had before having to face his own mortality. In his final days, Ilych experiences a spiritual awakening.
We see quite a bit from his faint memories of older brothers who served in the Civil War to his courting days up through the years that he mentored younger farmers. Despite some jarring changes from one century to the next, what abides is Jack's love of the land and his total immersion in working that land. This book helps me related to my own farmer grandfather, born 1908.
In an effort to leave a legacy, Ames describes his grandfather's role in the violent early history of Kansas as abolitionists fought those who would have Kansas enter the union as a slave state. Ames also describes the pastoral work of his pacifist father and shares what wisdom he can about how to live with others while striving to understand God's will.
Time, memory and perspective shift under his gaze. These are common concerns of older adults, and Harding takes a poetic and philosophical view. We also meet George's father, Howard and George's unnamed grandfather.
The setting is New England, and the book is filled with poignant descriptions of the landscape in addition to insightful observations about identity, intimacy, and purpose.
While surviving is difficult enough, Grey must marshal all the strength to solve a murder, and the clock is ticking on his own life. While these details sound fantastic, the novel depicts some of the real hardships--physical, mental, social and financial--that our nation's elders face.
While cancer ravages his body, Lewis reviews some key events from his past, tries to get his financial affairs in order, and wrestles over the choices he made as a parent and an employer. Haruf's novel has a few minor characters who are also evaluating themselves but at midlife when they have a bit more time for a course correction.
Benediction: Lives Reviewed
Books on Aging
Movies about Mature Men Preserving Power