Although Katherine is married to a wealthy man, the issues that she faces are similar and indeed relatable for many women, no matter what their financial situation. We look into the mirror and see our mother’s face reflected back; we are occasionally frightened by the thought that we may never know how it would feel to make love with a man other than our husband; or forgotten what it’s like to travel abroad alone. My heroine still often has her son, Josh, at home, but she has lost the all-consuming role of mothering that had dominated her life. Unexpectedly, she finds the world around her changing.
Although convention has it that we gain wisdom as we age, that is not always the case. Rather, it is our ability to surprise ourselves, whether with our cleverness or our foolishness, that proves that we are alive. Hope will, more often than not, triumph over experience. Recklessness is not the
Convention has it that we gain wisdom with age; that’s not always the case’ province of the young. If anything, increasingly, it’s becoming more usual as we age for us to suddenly toss everything that we know and treasure into the air and see where it falls. Just for the fun of it.
Hormone treatments, IVF, divorce, the Internet, and cheap travel are some of the reasons why the seven ages of man (and woman) have been scrambled and have emerged unrecognisable. While some of my contemporaries are fretting about their children who are on their gap-year travels, there are others, such as a male friend, who is staggered to have just become the father of a newborn. At an extreme end of the spectrum, the 80-year-old mother of another friend has traded in her home, emptied her bank account, and taken off to South America to live in a backpacking hostel and experiment with the body-and-spirit-purging ayahuasca.
I was once writing a piece about glamour, and I asked the late Candida Lycett Green, a writer, historian of the English countryside, famous beauty, and mother of five, what she thought of as glamorous, and she immediately described the small flowers that thrive on the walls of cliffs. As you near the edge, you can see them, but they are impossible to pick without you leaning dangerously far over. The Germans have a phrase for this – die blaue blume, the blue flower -which symbolises desire, love, and a striving for the unreachable.