Sunday 19 May 2019

Silver Week 2019

Today marks the end of Silver Week 2019, an initiative run by The Silver Line to help raise awareness of the isolation experienced by many older people and to raise funds to allow the charity to continue its excellent work. I thought, therefore, that this would be a good opportunity to look at some books with older people at their heart.

Three Things About Else, Joanna Cannon

Florence Claybourne is a resident at the Cherry Tree Home for the Elderly and relies on her lifelong friend Elsie to keep her sane and help her remember things. When an all too familiar face turns up it throws their monotonous life into disarray. A tender, heartfelt book that movingly demonstrates the challenges that come with being labeled ‘old’. Full review here.

The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 ¼ Years Old

Set in a care home in Amsterdam this book takes the reader through a year in
the life of one of its more lively residents. Not content to sit around comparing ailments with his neighbours our protagonist sets up the Old But Not Dead Club with a few of his friends. A humorous novel that isn’t afraid to deal with the big issues. Read the full review here. The sequel was published in English in 2018 and I’m looking forward to reading it.

A Spot of Bother, Mark Haddon

George Hall has recently retired and is convinced he’s going to die of a cancer that doctors have diagnosed as eczema. A gentle look at the challenges of parenting adult children and adjusting to retired life.

Grace and Mary, Melvyn Bragg

Bragg’s Grace and Mary is a touching portrayal of a son desperately holding on to his mother as Alzheimer’s takes away her memories and sense of self. We see John struggle with guilt and grief as he attempts to care for his mother as best he can, reconstructing her life for the reader. The full review can be found here.

I haven’t read the following books but they are popular novels with older protagonists.

The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared, Jonas Jonasson

A few years back this book seemed to be everywhere, so it’s definitely about time I picked up a copy. Allan Karlsson escapes his care home just before his hundredth birthday party, thinking he’ll see how far he can get. He soon finds himself embroiled in far more than he’d anticipated and being followed by both criminals and police.

These Foolish Things, Deborah Moggach

Possibly better known by the title of its film adaptation, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, this book follows a group of British retirees to a residential ‘hotel’ in Bangalore. It promises to be an amusing, relatable story.

If you have a favourite book that focuses on the older generation let me know in the comments below.

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