I’ve recently finished Mary Balogh’s Someone To Care, the latest installment in her Westcott series. The heroine of the story is forty-two with grown children and young grandchildren, the hero thirty-nine going on forty, with twins approaching their eighteenth birthdays. The book as been very well received, and I suspect we’ll see more mid-life protagonists among our HEAs.
What struck me about the story–besides Mary’s gorgeous prose, diabolically ingenious pacing, and exquisite sense of setting–was the complexity of the protagonists. A young protagonists can be believably silly, somewhat superficial, and honestly lacking in sophistication. The older hero or heroine has had some of the fur loved off, and has usually created long-term relationships and obligations that complicate their lives.
The skills of older characters are different from those of a younger character too. Physical derring-do, the sort of courage required for initial forays into physical intimacy, intellectual nimbleness that comes from pure wit rather than experience… these are for the younger characters. With age, we learn patience, guile, humor–Mary’s hero is hilarious, in a grouchy, self-critical way–and humility.
When I screw up now, I’m much more likely to realize I need to apologize and more likely to offer the apology promptly and sincerely than I was forty year ago. In my twenties, I’d probably have felt lousy, but figuring out what to DO with my guilt and remorse would have taken me longer. In my twenties, I got a lot more done, but a lot less of it was for other people or with other people in mind.
A lot less of my life was on my terms, and lot more of it was because I was following a script I had yet to question.
I really enjoyed Mary’s less-young couple. They didn’t mess around with trying to impress each other, didn’t pretend they were innocent of where flirtation leads. Violet knew her mind and grabbed for a little self-indulgence with both hands. Marcel was at the height of his skill as a lover, even if he wasn’t a pawing, snorting stud muffin. He had a ton of cool, and a genuine sense of consideration where a lady is concerned. That too, fits well with a more mature view of life.
We are on a different adventure, once we choose a mate, once we have children, and once those children are grown. I like this adventure, and I like very much that Mary Balogh, who has ever been one to try her hand at fresh challenges, put such a story squarely among her latest family series.
Every phase of life has gifts and challenges, every phase of life has rewards. Are there rewards where you are, gifts you didn’t anticipate? Is there something you’d like to have back that you feel you once had?
To one commenter, I’ll send an audiobook version of Someone To Care.