A few days ago, Anastasia, Memory, Chris and I were talking on Twitter about books with older female protagonists. When you start getting older, it can be harder to find books with female protagonists close to your age. Even if you aren’t reading Young Adult, New Adult, Middle Grade or Children’s books, it’s not unusual to find that the main female is in her early twenties. Or maybe, we’re just really starting to look for some older female protagonists, so don’t really know where to look.
I started looking through my own books, hoping to find some with older heroines, and surprisingly found more than I had anticipated.
- In the first book in Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’s Diary, Bridget is in her 30’s. The second book follows immediately, whereas in the most recent book in the series we find Bridget in her 50’s. All these books follow Bridget and her quest to get laid, find a man, raise her kids properly, lose weight, and become a successful career woman. One of the things that is so appealing about the Bridget Jones books is that she’s a relatable charter, and you can totally see a real person her age struggling with the same things that she does.LibraryThing.
- The Blue Castle is a lesser known books by L.M. Montgomery – and yet, everyone I know who has read it, positively loves it. This book starts off on the night before Valancy’s 29th birthday, and covers the following year where she finally learns to live the live that she wants – all because she thinks it is the last year that she will ever have. LibraryThing.
- I read A.S.A. Harrison’s The Silent Wife in December, and quite liked it. I’ve passed this book on to my mom, so I can’t check on Jodi’s exact age, but I know that she and her husband have been together for almost 30 years… putting her probably mid 40’s to early 50’s, depending on when they first got together. This book focuses on the deterioration of Jodi and Todd’s marriage, presenting two characters who are very real and extremely flawed. This was Harrison’s debut novel, and she unfortunately passed away last year. LibraryThing.
- In American Elsewhere the main character, Mona, is a middle aged woman who has moved to a new town to inherit the house that her mother grew up in. It’s not only a story of Mona learning who she is, or where she came from, it’s also a story of supernatural beings that almost have some of overtones from the Cthulhu mythos. This book was written by Robert Jackson Bennett. LibraryThing.
- Notes on a Scandal, written by Zoë Heller, tells the story of Sheba, a teacher in her 40’s, who has an affair with one of her students. The narrator of the story, Barbara, is slightly older than Sheba, and seems to take some kind of perverse delight in the downward spiralling of Sheba. This had been adapted into a movie starring Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench. LibraryThing.
- One of my favourite Jane Austen books is Persuasion. Much older than Austen’s other heroines, Anne Elliot is 27 – positively an old maid at that point in time! Anne’s love life takes an interesting turn when an old fling comes back into the picture, the dashing Captain Wentworth. I really like how this book gives a good glimpse into what it would have been like to be an older single woman in the regency period. LibraryThing
- Lady Dona is almost 30 in Daphne du Maurier’s Frenchman’s Creek. This isn’t one of du Maurier’s more popular novels, and it doesn’t have the gothic feeling that you would expect from a du Maurier novel. It does, however, have an fiercely independent female lead, who escapes life in London for the quieter country living, and who ends up in an adventure with pirates. (I mean, really, who doesn’t love a pirate story?) LibraryThing.
- Cheating at Solitaire is one of my favourite chicklit books… Ally Carter wrote both this book and it’s sequel, Learning to Play Gin before she became known for her Gallagher Girls and Heist young adult series. In Cheating at Solitaire, 34 year old Julia James has made a name for herself writing nonfiction books for single women. What I loved about these books was that even when Julia ended up with a man, she wasn’t the type of character who thought she couldn’t be happy single. She was successful, independent, strong, and highly likeable. LibraryThing.
- In Shannon Hale’s Austenland, Jane Hayes is a 30-something woman who is obsessed with Pride and Prejudice. Sound familiar? When Jane is sent on a holiday where everyone dresses and acts like they belong in the regency period it sounds like a dream come true – until she is actually there and required to give up her cell phone and all other modern technology. Jane is written in such a way that she really reminds me of a lot of other female 30-somethings that I know in real life. LibraryThing.
- Oh, Georgette Heyer. How I love her regency books! Since Heyer’s books were written a few decades ago, and not actually during the regency period, it’s not too unusual to find her female leads slightly older and slightly more independent than woman of that time would have really been. For example, Abigail Wendover is 28 in Black Sheep, and Annis Wychwood is in her late 20’s in Lady of Quality. While not all of her protagonists are of the older variety, it’s not too difficult to find those that are. LibraryThing.
So there’s a handful of books with female protagonists who are older than 25… Anastasia has also created The 25+ Club list on GoodReads – a list of books with female protagonists older than 25.
What about you? Do you find that as you’ve gotten older, you prefer to read books about people who are older as well? Do you know of any additional books with older female protagonists?