ageism, ageism in fiction, ageism in SFF, love after forty, mature protagonists, relationship angst, Roberta Trahan, The Dream Stewards, The Well of Tears
One of the most unexpected responses to my debut novel, THE WELL OF TEARS, was the negative reaction from younger female readers about the age of the protagonist in the book (she’s around 40), and the fact that she has a long-standing, functional, and happy life partnership.
THE WELL OF TEARS is more or less a multi-generational family saga with characters who range in age from 19 to 153. The lead protagonist, a sorceress called Alwen who embarks on a quest she has waited half her life to complete, must face a host of complicated challenges and heart-rending losses – the kind that come to someone who has lived long enough to acquire the obligations that come with adulthood – duty to family and community, and to self.
Concepts that are, apparently, inaccessible and / or alienating to younger women.
As a wife, mother, sister, aunt, and feminist – this pains me. It seriously pangs my heart to discover that the only kind of relationship angst some young women want to experience in their reading is whether or not the girl gets the guy. As if there isn’t far more riveting relationship angst to come after the hook up?
Wow. Come on, ladies. Dream bigger.
How I wish I’d been able to find a heroine in the stories I read in my twenties to model the woman I wanted to become, rather than female leads who merely made me feel less alone in my own romantic quagmires. But then, maybe I shouldn’t expect more from readers who are still giving jell-o shot syringes five star reviews ;).
So tell me, young(er) women readers of SFF – why is an older protagonist so unappealing to you? I really wanna know.