Article By Fabafterfifty
I am a great fan of Linda Kelsey, having previously read Fifty is not a Four Letter Word, and being a reader of Linda’s regular features in the Daily Mail. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to chat with Linda about her latest book.
I was looking forward to receiving my review copy of the ‘the Twenty Year Itch’, and I was not disappointed.
I don’t want to give too much away, as it’s a great read and I don’t want to spoil it for you, but in short it follows a year in the life of Julie, who has been married for 20 years when her husband decides (just when her youngest child sets off for university), that he is going to take a gap year, not just from his career, but also from their marriage.
So, Julie finds herself an ‘empty nester’ with her own life in limbo, and the lives and marriages of her perceived ‘stable’ friends also going through a period of reflection and change.
In talking to Linda, she is open in the fact that the book is based on her own life and experience, (although not necessarily with the same ending). As a normal woman living a normal life, her writing and experiences resonate with her peers. Linda says the facts are there to be seen- an increasing number of women are divorcing in their 50s and 60s in spite of the fact that the overall divorce rate is falling in the UK. This is a trend which is likely to continue.
This might be because this is the first generation of women who are economically independent and hence less likely to be stuck in unhappy marriages. Linda also believes that women age ‘better’ than men in terms of mindset, although don’t yet normally have the opportunities of meeting a new partner up to 25 years younger( as many men do). Most women interviewed by Linda still tend to look for new partners the same age or older.
Through the lives of ‘Julie’ and her friends, Linda explores the issues facing 50+ women such as dating again, whether infidelity is inevitable in today’s long modern marriages, and questions whether separation and reconcilialtion are possible. Other issues such as how you cope when one half of a couple is diagnosed with a debilitating illness and the moral dilemmas this creates are also touched upon in the storyline.
Apart from being a good read, The Twenty Year Itch is also extremely thought provoking, as many of the issues facing 50+ women are confronted, and as it is a novel, Linda can offer varied outcomes.
The Twenty Year Itch is the first book to be recommended reading for the Fabafterfifty Book Club.
Linda Kelsey is the author of the bestselling Fifty is not a Four Letter Word and The Secret Lives of Sisters. A former editor of She and Cosmopolitan, Linda has been a columnist for the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail. She continues to contribute to a wide variety of magazines and newspapers.