Older women seem to be considered somewhat redundant these days, says author Amanda Hampson whose latest novel, Lovebirds, tells the heart-warming story of Elizabeth, now in her sixties, and her quest with grandson Zach to find her husband Ray.
“I’m committed to writing about older women, I think it is important because we are constantly being sold the idea that youth is the only attribute worth having but, with the benefits of experience and maturity, later life can be extremely rewarding,” Sydney based Amanda tells Have a Go News.
“In fact, research shows that women over 60 consider it the happiest time of their life.
“Society may be keen to write us off, but it’s up to us whether we accept that or not. Being grumpy about it doesn’t work. Trust me, I’ve tried it. More rewarding is to become curious and open to different ideas; to explore new ways of being in the world. This is the journey that my character Elizabeth undertakes.
“We meet her at a time when her world is quietly unravelling. Her best friend of half a century has died, her family has broken apart and she is desperately lonely. When she takes responsibility for her 15-year-old grandson Zach, she’s forced to open her mind and heart in an effort to bring her family together.
“Elizabeth soon learns that unless she finds some common ground with her grandson, she will be sidelined. As it turns out, it takes a budgie to bring them together – but that’s another story.”
Amanda sees it as ironic that her fellow boomers, once the youthquake of the 1960s, are sometimes as intolerant towards young people as the older generation were towards them.
We didn’t care but wrote them off as oldies and sidelined them and that will happen to us as well.”
Lovebirds touches on the Vietnam war and its after effects. Amanda says that from her teenage years, she had a good sense of the mood towards it at the time and feels a sense of injustice about that happened to those conscripts.
“My deeper understanding of the experience and issues came from reading a number of books as well as newspaper articles from those years and talking to several Vietnam veterans and their wives.”
When asked about her writing style, Amanda says she empathises with her characters, without trying to make them perfect or heroic. She tries to get a sense of how they see the world and then allows them to speak and act for themselves.
Lovebirds is Amanda’s sixth novel. Her first novel The Olive Sisters was published when she was 50 and became a bestseller. Since then she has written Two for the Road, The French Perfumer, The Yellow Villa and Sixty Summers (all published by Penguin).
Amanda says: “It was fortunate with Covid that I didn’t have a book ready to be released in 2020, so I was able to hunker down and work on Lovebirds with renewed determination to add elements of humour and lightness that made Elizabeth’s struggles an uplifting experience for the reader.
“The upside of lockdowns has been so many online platforms for authors to discuss their books and connect with readers wherever they are, not just in major centres.
“Now I’m working on a novel set in 1965, about four tea ladies who get together to solve a crime, which is a lot of fun. As always, the main character is an older woman (we need more starring roles). It’s a mystery with twists and turns and humour – and who doesn’t love a tea lady!”
Lovebirds (Penguin Random House, $32.99), is available from all good bookstores.