The Advantages of Autumn

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.


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8 comments on “The Advantages of Autumn

  1. Like you Grace I very much enjoyed Mary Baloghs Somene to Care book.I wondered how Mary would portray Violet in her latest book and if it would be an overload of sadness revenge mixed up emotions or the feeling of total rejection and betrayal for herself and her children.But I knew Mary could pull it off,it is a great read.From my own experiences of my life and dealing or coping with significant events that we find ourselves in I can honestly say I am reluctant to get in a tizzy over shallow not important issues that do not enhance people’s lives.There seems a lot of what I call a bucket load of tripe in our newspapers and in the media that can deflate our future generations.I just wish the young would not be taken in by some of the rubbish.But of course many years ago I was one of those gullible hero worship all believing people.I am wiser but what I need now is more stamina that’s the problem?,minds alright but the body on a go slow at the moment I need a regeneration of something !!Any suggestions.

  2. I loved how Mary Balogh managed to give both characters their families. “Someone to Care” is what we all need no matter what our ages. It took me some time to pick myself out of the mass of “Tommy’s girls,” in my extended family, not totally sure I’ve done it in my husband’s yet. However, I would like to have more patience with my pack, value and nurture its positive aspects and find somewhere really yummy to run when I(we) need to.

    And, if you come across a middle-aged mind down a rabbit hole, send it home.

  3. I enjoy being able to be myself. My younger self was afraid to show my true self with others. Now, I don’t care; this is who I am and if you don’t like it, so sorry.

    It’s a freedom I never expected to have. But there are some perks with getting older such as knowing who you are and being okay with it.

  4. The only thing that I would like to have back is the better physical health I had when I was younger. Mentally, I am a much healthier person than I was when I was younger.

    I guess I first noticed the advantages to maturing when I was in my mid thirties. I have become a much more calm and accepting person. Sometimes things happen that I know would have made me anxious or angry back in the day. But now I just shrug and think it is not worth raising my blood pressure for (smile). I’ve also become more understanding and forgiving (having needed that so often myself).

    I love Mary Balogh too. One of the things I like most about her is the many types and varieties of heroes and heroines she creates. I’m glad she’s added some more mature folks to her cast of characters.

  5. I think I feel quite a bit that my youth was wasted on my young-self. I know myself much better now, and have extracted myself from the role I was “supposed” to embrace and am able to really be myself now. I would love to have the health etc. of youth but would rather keep the hard won wisdom of middle-age. There’s a long list of things I can no longer do (some I wouldn’t have done in the first place) so I was surprised when I felt better in my skin with age. I wear bolder colors and feel more confident, I wasn’t expecting that but I will definitely hold on to it.

  6. Today finds me exactly 36 years old. If 42 is autumnal (I don’t think by today’s standards it is), then 36 ought to be the high summer of my life. In some ways this is an apt metaphor. Everything is buzzing, bustling, busy. There are two small children underfoot, a career in full-swing, a happy marriage that’s decidedly out of the tricky newlywed stage. Everything feels awake and alive–and like a summer-long day (a favorite phrase from one of my favorite Old English poems) these days feel as though they will not end. That makes these days hard sometimes. Mostly, I’m trying to revel in them because I know that while they may feel endless, they’re not. Even the tiring, drawn out exhaustion of a summer day is a gift–time is fleeting; the summer allows us the comforting illusion that we have time and time and time.

  7. I visited my girlfriend at the beach. I really appreciate her friendship. I also appreciate that I really do have a good husband. I think as a younger woman I thought if a relationship didn’t work out it wasn’t a big deal. But as an older woman I appreciate long term friendships and being married a while.