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I've just finished BRIGHT YOUNG WOMEN by Jessica Knoll. One of the two main characters is Pamela. We meet her in the 1970s and again in the present. The novel is about a lot of things (an examination of our culture's obsession with true crime and serial killers, for one), but I loved it for how it portrayed this woman's journey to finding her voice to speak out for survivors.

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Oct 17, 2023Liked by Jessica Smock

Lara in Ann Patchett's Tom Lake (one of the best books I've read, oh, ever) is my age (57) in the present time of the novel, which is set during the initial pandemic lockdown. My life is nothing like hers, but the way the story touches on the love parents have for their grown children, and their own relationship, and their past relationships/lives/who they used to be when they were young? really hit home, hard.

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I loved all four female, mid-life characters in Elizabeth Berg's "Tapestry of Fortunes". Each one is willing to take a risk in exchange for something that may change her life for the better.

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I'm probably hitting the younger end of midlife with these recs. Both main characters are around forty. But I loved them both.

Lily Bennett's Bucket List by Katherine Dyson is about a woman who's dumped by her husband for a younger model. She finds a random bucket list in a shopping cart and decides to do it as a growth exercise. In the process, she finds more than herself.

The Idea of You by Robinne Lee I have so many thoughts about this novel for it to be Harry Styles fan fiction. I wish I knew more people who had read it so that we could discuss it. Anne Hathaway is starring in the movie, but I know they won't capture her character's layered conflict. I think this story perfectly encapsulates how our society treats "women of a certain age."

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Madison Clark, the main character in Fear of the Walking Dead. She plays the mother of the two teenage characters, and I just love how badass she is! The fact that she is over forty (if not into her 50s) isn't really addressed, but I love that this mom journeys across the country saving people and making tough decisions through a zombie apocalypse.

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Emma Thompson in Good Luck To You, Leo Grande. Actually, Emma Thompson in anything!

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt13352968/

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Thanks for all the terrific book suggestions; I can't wait to dive into some of these when I finish my current stack of books! I'm going to go in a slightly different direction with my choice, since it is a real person. However, since I don't really KNOW her (only the persona she shares on television), she can be considered a character, right? With that indulgence, I'm choosing Robin Roberts of Good Morning America. Besides being smart, funny, and self-confident, she is tender-hearted and humble. At her most vulnerable time, she took her audience with her on her journey fighting cancer and made us all more courageous as we cheered her on. More than anything, she seems to live an authentic life in a spirit of gratefulness. She is an inspiration to me!

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Why is it so hard for me to think of one?

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Oct 19, 2023Liked by Jessica Smock

Not exactly a character, because it's nonfiction, but I absolutely loved Liz Phair's "Horror Stories: A Memoir." And my favorite midlife character in an animated film is Elastigirl from The Incredibles. She may be the coolest mom protagonist of all time.

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Well, Obviously I have to add Tom Lake to my TBR pile! I honestly had to scroll back a bit in my Goodreads list to find a novel about a midlife woman. Everything I came up with was Kristen Hannah books! She writes about women going through hardships, being totally badass, even if it doesn't look like much from the outside, and coming out the heroes of their own stories in the end. First I thought of Vianne, the older sister in The Nightengale who does what she has to do to protect her children during WWII. Then Elsa, the young wife then middle aged mother during the dust bowl in The Four Winds. Cora Albright, mom of Leni in The Great Alone. Kate and Tully in Firefly Lane, I could go on and on. I think I relate to all of them in some way or other. The depth of strength that can be found when we need it. Even when we don't think we have it. We somehow find it.

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I haven't spent much, not nearly enough, time reading in the past four years, in spite of the fact that reading and writing were to be my main activities here. I imagined myself reading on the beach, reading in my hammock, reading in a little cafe.... while taking breaks from writing (which I did do at least). The build here has been overwhelmingly greedy for my time and energy.

Now that I am done I find I'm quite burnt out, so I've been indulgently catching up on full on escapism reading, and I love a good murder mystery or magical fantasy so.... My favourite author in the genre of mystery for some time has been Louise Penny, and although I love her main character Gamache, I have so much admiration for the way Penny writes her women, and most of the characters in the book are middle aged women. I've read everything by her, except I haven't got to her recent novel with Hillary Rodham Clinton, but it's on my list.

I really like the depiction of Isabelle, his third in command, and a very good detective who ends up being promoted in spite of the fact that she is an indigenous, middle aged, single mother of two girls. She is younger in the early books, but moves into middle age throughout the series, which is cool in and of itself as we can see the transition and she really comes into her own.

I love how she depicts Rein-Marie as much more than Gamache's wifely appendage. I love how she describes Myrna, the middle aged psychologist who retires early and opens a bookstore.

But my favourite character has to be the eccentric artist who always has food in her crazy curly unkempt hair and sees the world from such a different point of view that she continuously surprises her friends and the world with her art.

If you like murder mystery and haven't read the books but happened to catch the TV series, sadly they just didn't capture the depth of story and most importantly, the characters, and I think that was a sentiment shared by most fans as the series was cancelled after only one season.

Thanks for this! It looks like I have a few books to add to my wish list.

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I love Grace & Frankie. How they took a bad situation and turned it around, putting aside decades of mistrust to become the best of friends. I identify more with Frankie, and I often find myself thinking What Would Frankie Do? (which may or may not have landed me in a bit of hot water).

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