In Praise of the Older Protagonist

The Older Protagonist

I have found that as I get older, books that appealed to me as a younger person just don’t appeal anymore.  When I was a teenager, I enjoyed reading books about other teens.  I am happy to say that I grew up in the time of Sweet Valley Twins and the original Baby-Sitter’s Club.  When I was a younger mother, I enjoyed reading books about other young mothers going through the struggles of raising children. 

But now, I’ve reached an age where I don’t want such young protagonists.

I’m not interested in books with protagonists that are twenty-five, single, have money, and complain about their apartments and job, or that they didn’t get to take their cruise vacation this year, all the while drinking bottles of wine and scrolling through their social media.  I’m looking for books with older protagonists who aren’t letting their age hold them back from adventure, job changes, new love, or exploring life beyond the borders of age.

The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax

Widow, Emily Pollifax’s children were grown and she is tired of the Garden Club meetings being the most exciting thing on her calendar.  So, she joins the CIA as an undercover agent.  Who’s going to suspect a sweet old lady to be a spy?  Unfortunately, her mission doesn’t go quite as planned and she finds herself using her wits and keen mind to get her out of trouble.  Age of Emily Pollifax: 63

The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick

Arthur Pepper is still grieving the loss of his beloved wife, but as he is going through her things, he discovers a charm bracelet that leads him on a world-wild adventure, learning that the wife he knew and loved had an exciting and secret life before she met and married him.  Arthur, who has always preferred a simple life with a scheduled routine, struggles with breaking free of his comfort zone and doing things he never expected. Age of Arthur Pepper: 69.

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper

Murder in an English Village, by Jessica Ellicott

American adventuress Edwina and prim and proper British Beryl have been best friends for more than thirty years, but hard times following World War I have these two ladies sharing a cold, old, house in Walmsley Parva, England.  But when Edwina gets attacked in her own garden and another local girl turns up dead, it’s up to Edwina and Beryl to solve the murder. Age of Beryl and Edwina: “a certain age”.  Gentlewomen don’t disclose their age.

Murder in An English Village

Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris by Paul Gallico

Mrs. Harris is a London charlady who is known for her cheerful and positive attitude.  After seeing a beautiful Dior dress, Mrs. Harris decides she wants to have one too.  Determined to make her dreams come true, she works hard and saves her money.  When it’s time to buy the dress, she is faced with all sorts of obstacles, but her cheerfulness never wavers. (age of Mrs. Harris: early 60’s)

Mrs Harris Goes to Paris

Protagonists in their Fifties:

Eliza Starts A Rumor

(age of Eliza: early 50’s)

A Man Called Ove

(age of Ove: 59) 

Where'd You Go, Bernadette

(age of Bernadette: early 50’s)​

Protagonists in their Sixties:

Britt-Marie Was Here

(age of Britt-Marie: 63)

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand

(age of Major Pettigrew: 68)

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

 (age of Harold: 65)

Protagonists in their Seventies

The Thursday Murder Club

(age of women in the club: 70’s)

The Murder at the Vicarage

(age of Miss Marple: 75)

Olive, Again

(age of Olive: 70’s – 80’s)

Protagonists in their Eighties and older

The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett

(age of Eudora: 85)

The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen

(Age of Hendrik: 83 1/4)

Driving Miss Norma

(age of Norma: 90)

The Red Address Book

(age of Doris: 96)

The 100-year-old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

(age of Allan: 99/100)​

Celebrities in their later years:

If You Ask Me

In Such Good Company

Keep Moving

Erma Bombeck

Rickles' Letters