I’ve been spending a lot of time talking to my Nan. She’s 95 you know? And still going strong, even if she doesn’t think she is. I’ve been working hard trying to get her to remember what she’s achieved in her life and and to help us youngsters to understand ours. I’ve also been trying to get her to be more outward looking.
My Nan was born in 1918. When she was growing up she learnt the Charleston. She worked in a munitions factory during WWII. She was one of the first to enjoy package holidays to Spain and Italy. She travelled on steam trains and had siblings die in their infancy from things that today wouldn’t even warrant hospitalisation. When young all her clothes were hand made and she spent an entire day having her hair permed. Perhaps she should write her own book!
She reads historical fiction and things like Barbara Taylor Bradford. But it did get me thinking. As we are living in an ever ageing population do we need a new genre? We have children’s books, teen books, young adult books, coming of age books… do we have old age books? Is there such a thing? I’m talking about fiction here.
If there was, what would distinguish it? What would it be about? If I ask my Nan she’d just talk in terms of existing genres. I don’t want to be patronising but from my experience what would make a good book for my Nan would be.. happy, uplifting, life affirming, about her generation but in a realistic way that presents old age as a valued thing where individuals value themselves, look for what they can do and act on it. (I’m trying really hard to be positive here as I have quite strong views about the poisonous attitude to old age that we have in the UK and other western countries).
Are there any books that fall into this category? I can only think of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple books which have this positive attitude, but having not read any I can only attest to what I’ve seen on television.