Those seeking adventure come in all shapes, sizes, and ages. According to a study done by LeadingAge, “the proportion of travel adventurers over age 85 has increased more than 70 percent since 2004.” As you plan your escapades to enjoy these long summer days, consider embarking on a journey that doesn’t require any physical travel: a literary adventure. Specifically, one that features an older adult at the helm of the plot. From literary classics to newer novels, here are six stories where age does not get in the way of adventure, mystery, or a heartwarming story.
The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie, 1930
Miss Marple, protagonist in several Christie books, is arguably the most famous crime-solving older woman in literary history. In Murder at the Vicarage, Miss Marple makes her novel debut as she works to solve a murder in her village. Described by some as a “tongue-in-cheek, cozy murder mystery”, this novel is an excellent choice for anyone who enjoys working to solve a mystery with a few giggles along the way.
Epilogue: A Memoir by Will Boast, 2014
Sometimes, the end of one story can actually be a new story’s beginning in disguise. In his memoir, author Will Boast recounts how he thought he had lost his entire family through a series of unfortunate events until he discovered an entire second family kept hidden from him. Epilogue is the story of how Will looked to continue his family’s story after he thought it had ended, and of all the new things he discovered along the way.
The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street by Susan Jane Gilman, 2014
Few things say “summertime” quite like ice cream. The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street is the fictional story told by Lillian Dunkle, creator of an American ice cream empire in the 1930s. Now in her eighties, the story bounces between the present and the past as Lillian shares her extraordinary tale of coming to America and living the American dream. Having been portrayed for decades as a wholesome American sweetheart, the true Lillian is much more devious and crass than her public-self. The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street explores multiple themes—the American dream, aging, jealousy, greed, love, and more—and weaves them into a deliciously entertaining story.
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway, 1952
Written by Oak Park native Ernest Hemingway towards the end of his career, this story is a Pulitzer Prize-winning classic. This literary treasure tells the story of an older fisherman and his battle with a large marlin. The story is set in Cuba, where the hero of the story embarks on a legendary quest to end his streak of bad luck and capture the largest fish he can find. The adventure stems days, and is full of triumph and heartache.
Orhan’s Inheritance by Aline Ohanesian, 2015
This cross-cultural, cross-generational tale centers around a quest for answers. When Orhan expects to receive a full inheritance after the passing of his grandfather, he is taken aback when he finds that the bulk of it has been left to an elderly woman he has never met who lives in a completely different country. Determined to find out who this woman is and why his grandfather felt she deserved what he believes to be rightfully his, Orhan sets off to find her. However, when he meets Seda, he finds that her secrets and stories completely defy his expectations. Her narrative weaves through several decades and reveals truths about Orhan’s family he had no idea existed.
Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells, 1996
The novel behind the Hollywood hit, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood follows a group of women as they try and figure out life. As children, four friends got together and created a sisterhood. As 70-year-old adults, the sisterhood is still as strong as ever as they work to help mend a relationship between one of the Ya-Ya’s and her daughter. Moving, funny, and unique, this is sure to be a great addition to your summer reading collection.
Beat the heat this summer by travelling deep into the pages of one of these fabulous written journeys from the comfort of your own home. Do you have any summer reading suggestions that feature “silver-haired heroes” to add to our list? Add your book recommendations in the comments below. Happy reading, everyone!