Big Gap in Ages on Many Pages

It’s December, so writing a blog post about literature’s May-December romances seems appropriate. But please don’t wait until May to read this!

Relationships between people who are 15, 30, or even 50 years apart in age crop up a number of times in fiction, as they do in real life. Men are often the older party in our sexist society, but sometimes the roles are reversed.

I personally prefer couples to be roughly the same age (my wife and I are three years apart). They’re more likely to have similar maturity levels, and share cultural and sociopolitical touchstones. Plus there’s a better chance that the ravages of age will take their toll at roughly the same time. It’s more fun acting out The Three Musketeers if you both have canes to use as swords!

But literature’s May-December couples (or May-August couples) can certainly be compelling from a dramatic standpoint. Will a relationship with a large age gap last? Does the different chronological prism of each lover make for a relationship that’s less compatible or more interesting? Does the younger person want financial security? A mentor? A surrogate “parent”? Does the older person want sex? To relive his or her youth? Have power over another? Have someone to take care of them in old age? If the older person is male, does he want another biological child or his first biological child? What do the couples’ parents and friends think of the wide life-span range? Questions, questions. Answers will be provided next May (just kidding).

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
, the stellar Stieg Larsson novel I also mentioned last week, has a “twofer” in this area: 42-year-old Mikael Blomkvist sleeps a number of times with a woman who’s 56 before doing the same with one who’s 24. The women — I’m omitting their names to avoid spoilers — initiate the “affairs” in each case. (Does the dragon on that tattoo also have a May-December relationship? I’ll check The New York Times‘ “Vows” column and get back to you.)

But as I mentioned earlier, men are older in the majority of age-mismatched couples. For instance, Jane Eyre is 18 and Edward Rochester in his latter 30s when the two meet. But Jane’s hard-won, exceptional maturity makes that gap seem significantly less in Charlotte Bronte’s novel.

Another Edward, the Rev. Casaubon, is also much older than his wife in George Eliot’s Middlemarch. Dorothea Brooke is a smart woman who eventually becomes as clear-eyed about life as Jane Eyre is, but her combination of idealism and youthful naivete when meeting Edward cause her to misread what Casaubon is really like (awful).

Also negatively matched are Isabel Archer and her two-decades-older husband in Henry James’ The Portrait of a Lady. There are other reasons besides age for why that marriage doesn’t work, but it’s germane that the husband has lived long enough to have a secret history plus lots of “practice” being controlling and manipulative.

Another reverend wed to a much younger woman is John Ames in Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead, but the match is a fairly positive one despite his ill health. The marriage gave John (whose first wife died giving birth to a daughter who also died) two second chances because he also has a young son with Lila.

Then there are very queasy age gaps, such as the one in Vladimir Nabokov’s controversial Lolita between the 12-year-old title character and Humbert Humbert — who’s in his late 30s when the pair’s sexual involvement happens.

There are also unreal gaps, as with Cormac O’Connor being roughly 275 years old when in a serious relationship with a normal-aged women near the end of Pete Hamill’s Forever. Cormac can live indefinitely (and still look young) as long as he doesn’t leave Manhattan — meaning gentrification is an obvious threat. 🙂

As I said earlier, older woman-younger man couples are not seen as frequently, but they do exist in literature as well as real life.

Terry McMillan’s How Stella Got Her Groove Back tells the story of a forty-something stockbroker and single mother who, while on an island vacation, falls for a man half her age.

Mario Vargas Llosa’s semi-autobiographical Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter features an 18-year-old named Mario falling in love with 32-year-old divorcee Julia. She is indeed his aunt, but they’re not related by blood.

Colette’s Cheri focuses on the affair between the novel’s title character and Lea, who’s 24 years older than him. The author herself had a (bad) first marriage to a man 14 years her senior and a (good) third marriage to a man 16 years her junior.

Harold and Maude, featuring a relationship between a young man and 79-year-old woman, is best known as a cult-favorite movie but was also turned into a novel by Colin Higgins.

And there’s a sweet section of Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine novel in which a young man and a woman over 90 have a series of deep conversations that are essentially a verbal love affair.

Who are some of the most memorable fictional couples (married or not) with wide age gaps? (Straight or gay relationships welcome!)

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108 thoughts on “Big Gap in Ages on Many Pages

  1. Pingback: Love across the ages – Culture pickings

  2. Pingback: Love across the ages – Kultur Bites

    • Thanks, Eric! That’s another great age-gap angle — a specific character being younger and older in the same literary work.

      One of these days I have to reread “Hamlet.” I think I last read it in high school. 🙂


  3. I guess I am a “groupie” because Harold and Maude is one of my favorite movies! I adored Ruth Gordon in absolutely anything she ever did and she was amazing in that movie! She was truly believable as the 79 year old lover! She and her husband Garson Kanin were extraordinarily talented people. They collaborated on many projects together.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Age gaps among loving characters in literature?

    Stendahl purveys a few in his two most famous novels, The Red and the Black and The Charterhouse of Parma. In the former, the young Julien Sorel seduces the wife of the man who has hired him to tutor his children, out of curiosity as to the powers of his willful charm, but mostly out of revenge for various slights to his most tender pride to which he is exposed due to his lowly origin and present station among the small-town gentry. But the target of his amorous designs is a woman of simple virtue, who, though sorely taxed by Sorel’s ardor and machinations and her own vulnerabilities, eventually and inconveniently captures the heart of her seducer, to his mortal ruin, and to her own. In the latter, Gina, though the lover of Count Mosca, undertakes marriage with a much older man of position and great wealth, for all the practical reasons such arrangements are made, freeing her for seasons to do what she wished, safe within the bounds of a hypocritical propriety. Gina’s constant and most active interest in her nephew Fabricio’s affairs and career are both quasi-maternal and animated by something not unlike romantic love, but again, this interest is framed within the forms if not the facts of convention, and in the face of roiling politics, familial and local.

    Inequalities make for tension, which makes for conflict, which makes for narrative interest. Inequalities of age are compensated for by wealth and power, youth and beauty. To modern readers, marriages based on anything but romantic love are usually seen to be lesser arrangements, made too much with practical considerations in mind, with too little consultation of the heart. But love certainly cannot be assumed to last, and neither, despite our wishes, can wealth or power, youth or beauty. In several ages and cultures, marriages between young women and older men were expected, and conventional. The fires of youth in the male are abated somewhat, and the purity of the female may be assumed. A host of literary musings and plotlines derive from such relationships, involving the audacity of youth and the meanness of age, fidelity and betrayal, willful blindness and studied misdirection, the flowering of one life in the autumn of another’s, etc. , from at least as far back as Catullus.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, jhNY — and Happy Holidays!

      Thanks for bringing the great Stendahl into this discussion, and for expertly describing the “age-gapped” relationships in those two novels.

      “Inequalities make for tension, which makes for conflict, which makes for narrative interest” — so true! Excellent first line in your eloquent final paragraph.


      • Since Christmas, I have been in the midst of computer purgatory, which unlike real purgatory, seems to take no account of penance or time spent. It took three attempts to write and transfer what I wrote from Word to here, and many non-responses and abrupt terminations in between. Lucky, I guess, to be here now; will read, and write, if inspired, on your current topic next time the computer lets me. After a few more limping days with this infernal box, I’m pretty sure I’ll be buying a new one….

        Happy Holidays to you!

        Liked by 1 person

        • jhNY, so sorry about your computer problems. A very frustrating and hellish experience.

          I greatly missed your comments, and figured you were on vacation.

          The best of luck getting the computer fixed or, as you think more likely, getting a new one.


    • Thanks, Cathy! “…after party” — ha! Good luck with your busy holiday time, and Happy Holidays!

      (Also, please let me know when two signed copies of your great new humorous real-estate book will be available for purchase. 🙂 )


  5. Hey Dave, I do hope the holiday season finds all here less stressed out than yours truly , rough month for those of us in the hospitality racket. First thing I thought of when I saw the topic was that a majority of examples would involve an older male with a girl which you addressed most interestingly. In particular I think the Aunt Julie reference a great one, I believe in real life Llosa and his Aunt were married for quite a few years and remained close even after they separated.
    If there’s a prize for biggest age gap I’m guessing a Lord of the Rings example will take the cake. Aragorn was a young man in his 60s I believe when he ascended to his throne and took a queen while his bride Arwen the daughter of Elrond was well over a thousand years old. As much as I love the trilogy I always found that storyline unspeakably sad, it’s a shame Tolkien couldn’t have shed his Victorian moral code and allowed the two of them to screw around without one of them being forced to give up her immortality.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Happy Holidays to you, too, Donny — despite it being such a frantic time for you and others in your profession. Good luck during the next few days!

      Thanks for your kind words about the column, and for the terrific rest of your comment. “The Lord of the Rings” storyline you eloquently discuss is indeed poignant and melancholy along with being very romantic. The brilliant J.R.R. Tolkien was definitely quite straitlaced in depicting male-female relationships — in the rare instances where he even bothered including female characters in any significant way. Still, as you know, “The Lord of the Rings” is riveting reading.


      • Donny, I forgot to add: Your mention of that “Lord of the Rings” relationship reminded me of the one in Wim Wenders’ “Wings of Desire” movie, in which a character gives up immortality for love.


  6. Howdy, Dave!

    — Who are some of the most memorable fictional couples (married or not) with wide age gaps? —

    If the biblical threescore years and ten represent the historical mean life span of your species, then I would consider a difference of 10 percent of this period, or 7.0 years, a wide age gap. On this basis, I believe Helen and Harry in Ernest Hemingway’s classic “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” may be candidates for inclusion in this conversation. I believe the author avoided mention of the characters’ exact ages at the time of the action in this short story, but, measured by what Helen had done in her life and Harry had not done in his, I think of the former as being in late middle age and the latter as being in early middle age. (Right or wrong, they certainly are a pretty memorable fictional couple.)

    J.J. (Alias MugRuith1)

    P.S.: Happy Holidays!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, J.J., for the mention of, and interesting words about, “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” — a Hemingway work I haven’t read (yet). Seven years is indeed a significant age gap, even if it isn’t a huge one.

      Robert and Maria in Hemingway’s later “For Whom the Bell Tolls” might be 10 or 15 years apart. I seem to remember Maria as late teens or early 20s and Robert in his 30s when they have their affair during the Spanish Civil War.

      Happy Holidays to you, too!


      • — “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” — a Hemingway work I haven’t read (yet). —

        David Mamet may be a genius as both a playwright and screenwriter, but even his characteristically crisp dialogue might have to bow before the snap, crackle and pop of the lines in what could be the King of Key West’s greatest short story. (And, harking back to your theme of a week ago, it has plenty of weather in it, too.)

        Liked by 1 person

        • Well, it sounds like I should read that story, J.J.! Crisp dialogue can be VERY appealing, and I know Hemingway was often a master of such dialogue. “…the snap, crackle and pop of the lines…” — love the way you said that!

          I will try to get to “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” before “The Snows of This Winter” go away. 🙂


  7. Aislinn Hunter’s “Stay” ties into this theme because it deals with the complex relationship between a young woman and an older man. The young woman’s name is Abbey. Originally from Canada, she moved to Ireland to get away from her troubled home life and to figure out what she wanted to do with her life. She met and eventually fell in love with a man named Dermot who was in his 50s.

    Abbey and Dermot both have dark pasts. Abbey was abandoned by her mother at a young age and neglected by her father. He couldn’t take care of himself, let alone a young daughter. Dermot’s past was centered around his former profession as a literature professor, a job he loved. He lost his teaching career after it was revealed that he had sexual affairs with several female students, and one became pregnant by him.

    Normally, red flags would and should be all over this relationship…an emotionally distraught young woman in her 20s with abandonment issues and a disgraced former college professor in his 50s. But somehow, they make it work. These two are optimistic about their new life together in Ireland despite their pasts.

    I really like this book. In addition to the Abbey-Dermot plot, there’s an interesting back story on Irish history and culture.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Ana, for the stellar summary of “Stay”!

      On the surface, that novel sounds a bit like a photo negative of Colm Toibin’s excellent “Brooklyn,” about a young woman who goes from Ireland to North America rather than vice versa. But “Stay” sounds deeper, and, yes, as you say, it would seem the relationship you describe would have little chance of success. Aislinn Hunter must be an authorial magician!

      And threading history, culture, etc., behind the main storyline is usually very welcome.


      • Aislinn Hunter is from Ontario, but currently lives in British Columbia. It is a well-known fact that Canadian authors are awesome and can do no wrong. Same with Canadian musicians, especially this certain bass player who inspired my Twitter handle.

        Also, wasn’t there an age difference in Ethan Frome??? Zeena was older than Ethan, I believe, by 6-7 years. He only married her to avoid being alone after his mother died, plus he saw their marriage as a way for him to move into a bigger city than where he was living. Marriage for convenience, I’d say.

        Liked by 1 person

        • It’s undeniable that Canada has a huge number of talented writers, musicians, etc. I “Rush” to admit that. 🙂

          You’re right about the not-nice Zeena being older than the hapless Ethan, who made a bad decision to marry her. In another Edith Wharton book, “The House of Mirth,” I seem to remember an older rich lowlife or two trying to have an affair with the young Lily Bart. And in Wharton’s “Custom of the Country,” I think one of American social climber Undine Spragg’s husbands (the European one?) was considerably older than her.


  8. The most famous one I can think of not yet mentioned d’Artagnon and Milady de Winter in “The Three Musketeers.” The age difference is indeterminate but de Winter is older than him by about 10 years from what I understood from the book.

    Aside from that the obvious murder suspects in mystery novels are the young spouse of a much older man, in most cases.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good one, GL! d’Artagnan was quite a character, as was the villainous Milady. I read all “The Three Musketeers” sequels, and seeing d’Artagnan and the trio of musketeers grow old was quite poignant.

      In another Dumas novel, “The Count of Monte Cristo,” I believe the count (Edmond Dantes) is significantly older than the Haydee character. (I can’t remember if the two of them have an actual relationship or an implied or wished-for one.)

      Great point about some mystery suspects!


    • That’s true, Telly! Though, if I’m remembering right, George Eliot was briefly married to a much younger man not long before she died. But that was seven or eight years after “Middlemarch” was published.

      Thanks for commenting, and for mentioning the wonderful relationship between Eliot and George Henry Lewes!


  9. Hi Dave, I thought of two of Jane Austen’s novels, “Emma” and “Sense and Sensibility.” In both, if I calculated correctly, two of the main couples have an age difference of 16 years. Throughout the former novel, Emma thinks of Mr. Knightley as an older brother, and he is the only person who can get away with criticizing her when she at times shows poor judgment or behaves badly. Only when she thinks she may lose their close relationship because of Harriet Smith does she realize she loves him. In S&S, Marianne at first disparages Colonel Brandon partly because of his age, but eventually his steadfast friendship and devotion wins her love. I remember reading in the introduction to my first copy of this novel many years ago that some readers were not at all happy with the Marianne/Brandon marriage, I suppose because they thought he was too dull or old for her. I thought it was the right ending, especially since it enabled the two sisters to happily live close by to each other after their marriages. Marianne and Elinor’s bond was perhaps the strongest of all the relationships in this novel.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Kat Lib, for expertly bringing Jane Austen into this discussion!

      I read “Emma” recently, and there is indeed a significant age difference between Ms. Woodhouse and her eventual beau. If I’m recalling correctly, there was also a notable age gap between Harriet and the compatible man she reconnected with after Emma had unwisely intervened.

      I’m trying to remember if there was a major relationship being an older woman and a younger man in any of Austen’s novels. Can you think of any?


      • No I can’t think of any either. The only thing close to that is the relationship between Mr. Collins and Lady Catherine in “Pride and Prejudice.” It’s certainly not romantic in any way, but Lady Catherine lives to be flattered, praised and to tell people what to do, and she found the perfect toady in Mr. Collins. Some of the most comical scenes in P&P are the ones at Rosings between or about these two characters.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Great mention of Lady Catherine and Mr. Collins, Kat Lib! That was quite a pair — though, as you say, not a romantic one. Among the many examples of Jane Austen including plenty of laughs, drollery, and satire amid the seriousness and romance.


          • Hey Dave, I was just paging through a book I have that was written by an Austen scholar and lecturer (Natalie Tyler) called “The Friendly Jane Austen.” It’s a rather light-hearted read, including quizzes, interviews, and lots of fun or interesting articles and quotes about all things Jane (her bio, books, movies, etc.). I came across an article in which she rates many of the characters as to their level of vulgarity by given them 1 to 5 E’s (standing for the Eltons in “Emma”). Five characters made 5 E’s: Augusta Elton. Lady Catherine, Sir Walter Elliot, Aunt Norris and General Tilney. Remember when we joked about fixing up Aunt Norris and General Tilney? I was glad to see that this writer agrees. Alas, poor Mr. Collins only rated a 4 E! 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

            • That Austen-themed book DOES sound fun and interesting, Kat Lib! And I love the vulgarity ranking you mentioned! An Aunt Norris-General Tilney wedding would be so off the charts in vulgarity that it would be a YouTube sensation (well, YouTube circa 1814 🙂 ).

              LOL — your reference to Mr. Collins not quite hitting the top ranking. I guess he was more buffoonish than vulgar in certain ways…


  10. Dave in my school years I read a series of Novella`s by the French author Françoise Sagan of course the English translations. Her first book was ” Bonjour Tristesse ” when she was 18 , the book I was going to mention here is ” Aimez-vous Brahms”
    a story of am older woman tired of her unfaithful lover ( what an irony), finally left him then takes up another lover, a younger man, who defies convention by loving her. This is the story of an aging woman who tries to find some meaning in her life. He was everything her previous boyfriend was not – available, caring, devoted, at times even obsessive. The young lover lived for her, to satisfy her needs, to make her happy, and to behave in every way she expects him to yet it was a difficult relationship for her . The book was totally intoxicating and was very popular. I have several of Françoise Sagan `s books in the penguin series and they all walked away.

    Several of her books were made into films and I may have seen ” Bonjour Tristesse ” don`t even remember. This kind of May-Dec. relationship of woman being the older one is not uncommon now but decades ago was a bold move by the author.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That Francoise Sagan novel sounds great, bebe, as was your description of it!

      I’m sure you’re right that there are more older woman-younger man relationships today than decades ago, in literature and real life. Those relationships are certainly more accepted now than in the past.

      But I’m guessing that older man-younger woman pairings are still a significant majority. There remains so much sexism when it comes to appearance and youth being supposedly more important for women than men to have.

      Thanks for the comment, and good morning!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Changing the topic a bit here, bebe, I just finished the second part of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy. I believe you said the second book (“The Girl Who Played With Fire”) is even better than the great first novel (“The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”) — and you’re right! So terrific that I read 630 pages in two days.

      Among the many things I love about Larsson’s work is the way he takes on the BIG criminal targets — corrupt industrialists, corrupt police, etc.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Good Morning Dave…wonderful…he left us too early too soon…the third book being the last one I slowed down because I did not want to end.
        Also…after watching P&P with your wife the three part Swedish movies you could watch. The English dubbing was done so well it felt like the words coming out of the actors mouth.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yes, bebe, he was only 50 years old. 😦 In addition to his novels being unbelievably exciting, his characters are so interesting and diverse — young, old, gay, straight, strong women, etc. One thing I liked about the second book is that Lisbeth Salander is more prominent (and gets more back story) than in the first book. Mikhail Blomkvist is a fantastic character, but Salander is even more fascinating.

          Great idea to watch the Millennium films! (And glad the dubbing was done so well.) My wife is a big mystery fan, though she tends to enjoy “cozy” ones more than the very intense kind that Stieg Larsson wrote.

          I’ll be starting the third book today. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  11. Hi Dave,

    If I remember correctly, the ‘new’ Mrs De Winter was significantly younger than Mr De Winter in “Rebecca”? But of course, the main point of that story was the first Mrs De Winter, and so I don’t think that their ages really mattered.

    Am glad you enjoyed the first Millennium book. I enjoyed it when I read it earlier this year, but am in no rush to read the other two.

    Another great article, and great mention of Lolita. A terrifically written book, but that ‘relationship’ was just icky…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Susan! Glad you liked the column, and thanks for adding your interesting thoughts to it!

      “Rebecca” definitely fits this discussion. And Daphne du Maurier was one seriously great author.

      I hear you about “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” sequels. The first book was painful to read at times — with its violence and corporate corruption (corporate corruption as in “business as usual”). But I did find it riveting, and now have the other two Stieg Larsson novels borrowed from the library — stocked (Stockholm-ed? 🙂 ) on my apartment bookshelf.

      Totally agree with you about “Lolita.” A clever, superbly written novel, but the relationship depicted is indeed icky — whatever Nabokov’s intent was in depicting it.

      Liked by 1 person

        • OMG that was the scandal i remember…Amy Fisher…that was Buttafuoco if I recall…all over the news for a very long time. Amy is perhaps prancing around somewhere…eek…

          Wonder what happened to the…

          Liked by 1 person

          • What a scandal that was, bebe, with the shooting and everything!

            I just did a Google search, and apparently Fisher is now a mother of three who has done some media work and written a book. Buttafuoco and the wife Fisher shot got divorced, he owned (not sure if he still owns) an auto-body shop, and he has made some TV appearances. Much shorter hair now!

            Liked by 1 person

            • Hi Dave…a slow and overcast day..watching P&P little at a time a 6 HR BBC mini series. Dave it is so wonderfully done..I wish you borrow that DVD Susan and I were talking about. So delightful..and you won`t regret it.

              Also Mr Wickham and Georgiana Darcy had a short romance where Wickham was plotting to elope with Georgina then only 15 much younger than him.

              He was stopped by Mr. Darcy after he found out such escapade from Georgiana. ..

              Liked by 1 person

              • Hi, bebe! Watching “Pride and Prejudice” sounds like a great way to spend part of Christmas Day!

                Interesting you should mention that DVD because a new DVD player was a family present here this morning, and my next, already-written column this Sunday evening will be about literature and movies. 🙂

                I hope to watch the “P&P” miniseries sometime.

                Liked by 1 person

                • Good Morning Dave…what an appropriate gift…We have several copies of that DVD in our public Library…each of the 6 episodes are less than an hour we watched five of them so far. Just like the book I have watched it many times when I taped then in obsolete VHS.
                  Now you can watch a lot of BBC series…so many good ones.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • Good morning, bebe! Yes, that new DVD player will come in handy — moving my movie-watching from almost zero to at least some measure of respectability. 🙂 And when I do watch stuff, BBC miniseries will be among them! Sounds like the “Pride and Prejudice” production can easily be enjoyed in two days.

                    Liked by 1 person

            • Hiya Ana mind works in a mysterious way..last night in my blackberry saw Dave`s new post..and before reading the whole blog my mind went to Mr. Rochester..then I saw Dave have mentioned the book..of course he would ..

              Liked by 1 person

              • Ana, your line “Give me a couple of seconds to erase it………………ok, it’s gone” — deadpan hilarious!

                bebe, yes, Z-list celebrities like those two tend to be survivors, often finding various angles to make some money and keep getting publicity.

                Liked by 1 person

      • Hi bebe, I’ve never seen any adaptations of Lolita. From what I’ve heard the character of Lolita is generally portrayed quite differently from the little girl that’s in the book. Also, kind of off this topic, but please let me know if you borrow Lost in Austen, and what you think of it. It’s not a true adaptation of P&P, but I loved it, and hope you do too 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

        • Hi Susan ..above we were taking about some real life sick drama happened in the 90`s when media went non stop.

          I checked on ” Lost in Austen”..looks like a mini-series and our Public Library is the best place to start looking for it. I am in OH the library is very good in here.

          Now I borrowed the BBC P&P 6 hr DVD`s..I starting watching a little at a time it was done so well. I do have the one with Keira Knightley but have not watch it for a long time but it is there.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Okay…just got back from the Public library and found the mini series in their catalog..and requested for it. Hopefully it will come before the holidays are over so I could watch these sunless OH days 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          • Hi Bebe,

            As it’s the middle of summer here, there’s no lack of sun. Not that that would stop me from curling up with Austen for an afternoon. And my American geography isn’t great, but I think OH is Ohio? Which would be one of the middle ones?? Also, being in Australia, I think that Lolita scandal missed the news here. Though it could be that I was too young to remember, or I just didn’t pay any attention, which is the case with most things on TV, including movies. Dave, I have absolute respect for someone whose movie-watching is almost zero. Although, if you do need to take the new DVD player for a test drive, I highly recommend the BBC P&P miniseries. Although, with my Lost In Austen DVD, I had to put a note inside the cover to remind myself that I CANNOT watch it in two goes. Once it’s on, I can’t turn it off, so I’m not allowed to start watching unless I have three uninterrupted hours 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

            • Hi, Susan! Yes, I’m not much of a TV or movie watcher. Sounds like you’re not, either. But with a working DVD player for the first time in a couple of years, I might watch a movie or miniseries every month or two — and I will keep “Pride and Prejudice” in mind! I also want to eventually see the BBC series based on George Eliot’s “Daniel Deronda.” (As an aside, the riveting novel “The Luminaries” you recommended is rather “cinematic”; I wonder if it will ever inspire a screen production?)

              I hear you about wanting to finish what you start in one viewing; I’m the same way.

              Liked by 1 person

            • Hi Susan…didn`t realize you were writing from Australia…yes we are in Ohio…they say what the world things today it reaches here tomorrow..meaning a lot of un-informed folks and they don`t really care to know.
              Watching uninterrupted is difficult for me always something coming up..perhaps some lazy afternoon I dedicate to that.

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              • About ten years ago, I relocated to a slightly different time zone, and people were always reminding me to set my watch back 20 years. In Brisbane, we’re known for being a bit behind our neighbours in Melbourne and Sydney, but we’re also known for being laid back, and not really caring 🙂 I’d much prefer to be happy and relaxed, than to be viewed as the ‘smart state’.

                And it normally takes me a few goes to get through a movie, mostly because I get bored. But I find that I can’t do that with Lost in Austen. Once it’s on, I have to know how it ends (as if I haven’t seen it dozens of times!). I found myself putting it on at 8.00 at night, thinking I’ll just watch it for half an hour or so, and then I’d still be awake way past my bed time. So I had to leave a reminder in the DVD case that said don’t start watching this unless you have the time to watch ALL of it 🙂

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                • Good morning Susan…laid back is great but what i meant was politically culturally not moving forward not inclusive to all.

                  Oh I also watched Lost in Austen ..I liked the movie , very cute indeed. But unfortunately could not watch the whole movie at once. I need to borrow again so i could see the whole movie on lazy afternoon.
                  Thanks for recommending that. 🙂

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  12. Anna Karenina. I believe that Anna was older than her lover or at least felt older because she was married and had a child. I remember that she felt she was looking old too. Sister Carrie is another woman that was with a much older married man and ruined his life or maybe he ruined his own life.

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    • Thanks, Claire, for your excellent comment mentioning those two novels — one an all-time-great book and the other quite good, too. I read both so long ago that I had forgotten the age differences of the characters you cite!

      Your mention of Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina” reminds me of the age gap in another iconic Russian novel: Dostoyevsky’s “The Brothers Karamazov,” in which lowlife Karamazov father Fyodor (who’s in his 50s) vies with his son Dmitri for the affections of Grushenka (who’s in her early 20s).


  13. The only instances that I can recall that you haven’t mentioned are both aided by time travel. I’m hazy on details in both instances although I’m pretty sure that you, Dave, have read at least one of these and I recommend that you read the other if you haven’t already. In Stephen King’s 11/22/63, as I recall, the first person narrator does some manipulation in which he catches up with his soul mate at a point in time when she’s aged and he’s still at his 1963 age (?) but he finds her and makes that soul connection in spite of that apparent age difference. In Audrey Niffenegger’s ‘The Time Taveler’s Wife’ the time traveler goes back in time and finds his future wife as a child, makes some kind of personal connection, etc. Again, I don’t recall details but all the time traveling makes some May-December pairing possible in certain time continuums and comparable age-pairing in others. Again, I’m hazy where these time traveling narratives are concerned. Not only do I have to remember plot details but I have to recall specific time traveling machinations. Apart from that, time traveling might be seen as cheating the authentic May-December symmetry in which case, this entire case I’ve just made could get thrown out of court on ‘technicalities’. I’ll let you be the judge of that, Dave. You are the final arbiter of whether what I’ve just said is accepted as admissible evidence. I rest my case, your honor.

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    • Excellent observation, bobess48, about time travel making for some compelling age pairings. No worries — I feel it very much fits this topic in the eyes of the Blogosphere Court. 🙂 You can’t have much bigger a gap in a relationship than meeting someone who’s often, well, dead in the present time!

      Great mentions of “11/22/63” (I’ve yet to read it) and “The Time Traveler’s Wife” (a poignant, complex yet entertaining read). Other novels with memorable couples from different eras include — to name a few — Edward Bellamy’s “Looking Backward” (utopian future Boston), Jack Finney’s “Time and Again” (NYC in the late 1800s), and Darryl Brock’s “If I Never Get Back” (baseball and time travel). I realize you may be familiar with one, two, or all three of those books!


      • I thought you would have read the Stephen King novel but not ‘Time Traveler’s Wife.’ They both have similar premises although ’11/22/63′ ends more happily (except that JFK remains assassinated). Isn’t ‘Time and Again’ the novel that was adapted into the film ‘Time After Time’ in which Malcolm McDowell played H.G. Wells, who really does invent a time machine and chases Jack the Ripper into modern day San Francisco? In a similar vein there’s Richard Matheson’s ‘Bid Time Return’ made into the film ‘Somewhere in Time’. Each of these has that soul mates reaching across centuries setup.

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        • Thanks for your follow-up comment! The novel and movie with H.G. Wells you’re thinking of is Karl Alexander’s “Time After Time.” It’s excellent, but I think “Time and Again” is better. Certainly more haunting. It’s about a guy who goes from 1970 to the 1880s, where he grapples with a mystery and meets a woman (of course!). Your eloquent line about “soul mates reaching across centuries” does apply to many time-travel novels! A “Time and Again” bonus: vintage photos of 19th-century New York are interspersed in the book.

          I’d love to read Richard Matheson’s “Bid Time Return” one of these days. I’ve enjoyed several other novels by him.


    • Thanks, bebe! “Jane Eyre” also popped into my head first — oops, actually second, after “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.”

      By the way, my local library today had the other two books in Stieg Larsson’s “Millennium Trilogy.” Can’t wait to read them! I also took out Lee Child’s “61 Hours,” so I’ll also experience a Jack Reacher book for the first time. 🙂 Thanks again for being one of the people to recommend Child and Larsson!

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      • I am absolutely thrilled to know Dave you have borrowed the other two books of the Dragon Tattoo series and now Lee Child. Like ” 61 Hours” or not you would like the hero Jack Reacher…someone with no greed or possessions always there to save another life and then moves on.

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        • Thanks, bebe! I’ll definitely let you know what I think of those three books. 🙂

          I wanted to take out the first Jack Reacher novel (“Killing Floor”), but the library didn’t have it. I’m sure it will be no problem diving into the series with a later book from it. I’m VERY curious to see what the famous Reacher is like!

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        • Thanks for the comment! I confess to having crushes on some literary characters, too. 🙂

          I’ll let you know what I think of Jack Reacher! I hope to get to “61 Hours” sometime this week, right after I finish the third book (“The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest”) in Stieg Larsson’s marvelous Millennium Trilogy.


  14. The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone comes to mind. She was happily married to a much older man on whom she depended for emotional sustenance as well as financial. She was an aging actress, too old for ingenue roles, too young for older parts. Her older, wealthy husband bought her all kinds of plays in which to star so she would always have worked and had his love as well as the love of her faithful fans. But when he died soon after her last play closed, she had no one, and found herself in Rome. Through the auspices of a charismatic pimp who supplied other wealthy women expats with lovers in exchange for a percentage of the chunks of change, jewelry, gold cigarette cases and the like that the ladies gave their lovers, Mrs. Stone took up with an extremely desirable much younger man, a boy actually.

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    • thepatterer, until I saw your comment and looked up “The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone” in Wikipedia, I hadn’t known that Tennessee Williams was a novelist in addition to a legendary playwright. Thanks!

      It does sound like Mrs. Stone experienced both sides of the relationship age spectrum.

      Terrific description/summary of that Williams work!

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      • VERY charming, Ana. Kind of a “small town” masterpiece, and definitely semi-autobiographical on Ray Bradbury’s part. The chapter about the grandmother’s kitchen may have been the highlight of the novel — and a real argument for the benefits of messiness. 🙂


        • You can’t help but to feel nostalgic while reading this book. The kitchen is like the hub for all family activity. Any changes to that environment throws everything off balance.

          As you know, I’m in Vancouver at my grandparent’s house for the holidays. I can confirm that my grandmother still owns a manual mixer. LOL. She has a stand mixer, but Grandma likes to keep it old school from time to time.

          Speaking of which, duty calls. I shall talk to you later, and enjoy your holiday in advance (you too, bebe).

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          • A very, very nostalgic book, Ana. And it seems even more nostalgic now, decades after Ray Bradbury wrote it.

            It’s great when people have and/or use some “old school” stuff, as your grandmother does. Until I sold my house earlier this year, I was still trimming the lawn with a manual “push” mower. Rustier than the Tin Man before Dorothy and the Scarecrow oiled him. 🙂

            And I have my late grandparents’ hulk of a typewriter in my living room. It dates back to the 1920s — the decade “Dandelion Wine” is set in.

            Happy Holidays in advance to you, too!


    • Thanks, Angela, for your kind words and excellent comment!

      I agree — sometimes an age gap can be crucial to the storyline, or almost BE the storyline. Other times that gap is kind of gratuitous — maybe a shock-value type of thing, or wishful thinking on the author’s part. As you say, it all depends on what (hopefully!) makes sense for the storyline.


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