Not that we would know it from reading romance novels. Depictions of protagonists above 50 in the genre are about as rare as hen's teeth. A scarcity that Noelle Adams' latest contemporary romance, Late Fall, only just begins to address.
Ellie knows that she'll be meeting new people, but doesn't realize how much living at Eagle's Rest will feel like being back in school again—the gossip about this person's son, this one's grandchild; the friend groups and the cliques; and especially the women (who outnumber the men by a good margin) competing for male attention. Eagle Rest's most popular man about campus turns out to be Dave Andrews, a former colleague of Ellie's at the college where she spent much of her career, working as a librarian. The two never got along very well back then ("I didn't—and still don't—like those charming, schmoozing kind of men," Ellie notes when she first discovers that Dave is among Eagle Rest's residents (Kindle Loc 316). A numbers guy, he spent five years trying to cut the library's budget, with Ellie fighting to block him at every turn. Ellie was not sad to see the back of him when he tired of academia and returned to corporate finance, and isn't all that thrilled by the idea of encountering the arrogant man again.
At first, their benchwarming sessions are quiet. But as grumpy Dave admits he remembers Ellie, and the two begin to share details of their lives since they last met, a wary friendship begins to form. And as the sharing moves from superficialities to things that really matter, Ellie begins to recognize that while aspects of the arrogant Dave she once knew certainly remain, Dave at seventy-five is a lot more vulnerable, and a lot more lonely, than she ever could have imagined.
It may be just as easy to fall in love in your 70s as it is in your teen years. It may even feel the same, as Ellie is surprised to discover when Dave holds her hand: "I'm almost embarrassed by how much I enjoy it, how I feel a little breathless as I sit beside him. It seems like this sort of thing should feel different as you get older, but it doesn't. It really doesn't" (1141). But additional emotional experience and (often) lessened physical capabilities does make the experience of that love far different. As the blossoming of Ellie and Dave's relationship shows, in realistic, bittersweet, and yes, romantic detail.
Can you think of any other romance novels (rather than women's fictions) that feature elderly protagonists?
Dog grave: Palm Beach Bike Tours
Couple walking: UConn Today
Brain Mill Press, 2016