Literary Midlife Crises

A lot of people go through a crisis of sorts when they hit their forties, but in literature - at least in the books that I've been reading lately - things seem to go wackily and spectacularly wrong when characters enter midlife. In The Widow's Season by Laura Brodie, Sarah's forty-three year old husband goes on a short kayaking trip one day and after a huge storm, never returns. His kayak turns up, but his body doesn't and most people assume that he drowned. Sarah doesn't have the closure she wants, but believes that her husband is dead. She believes, that is, until she sees him at the grocery store. She also sees him other places including the churchyard right after his memorial service. And then there's the sighting on Halloween night. Maybe David isn't dead? Maybe he's just had enough of his old life and wants a change. Brodie kept me guessing right up until the end.

I wasn't even going to mention Chronicles of a Midlife Crisis by Robyn Harding, but then I read some reviews on Good Reads and discovered that there weren't very many other people who felt the way I did about it: that the characters were a bunch of self-absorbed, loathsome, childish losers; not to mention that the story was something like a cross between a National Enquirer cover story and the movie Fatal Attraction. It starts out well enough with some humor about how Lucy should have known that her husband of sixteen years was cheating on her (he's wearing skinny-legged trousers and using wrinkle cream - hello!). The story is told in back-and-forth fashion between Lucy and Trent. The more I read, the more I absolutely hated the characters. Not only is Trent involved with a psycho, but then Lucy starts seeing a teen celebrity (although really he's twenty-seven and just playing a teenage character on television) who happens to be her daughter's biggest star crush. Drama and severe stupidity ensues. But as I noted earlier, there were plenty of people on Good Reads who enjoyed it. One of the good things about reading midlife crisis fiction is that you can be pretty sure that your own drama will probably never be as bad!