Part memoir, part a collection of interviews, and a little bit of self-help/advice, this book is about what it's like to love and be in love when you are "old" - here, defined as both partners being age 60 or above. Author Eve Pell chooses this word to describe them because "Senior sounds tepid; older sounds like a way to soften old; elderly sounds fragile. Old is just a fact of life - if we are lucky to live long enough, it's what we become" (page xix).
I'm therefore not old yet, and my husband and I don't quite fit the profile of the 15 couples in the book, because I was just 49 and he was 64 when we married. However, like a number of the couples, we reconnected after originally meeting 27 years before, and after marrying (and divorcing) other people. So I felt I could relate to this book, even though I wasn't quite "old" enough.
Pell introduces her "cast of characters" at the beginning of the book with brief paragraph profiles of the couples, which include herself and her spouse, and two gay couples, one male, one female. After a short introduction, there are nine chapters that address such topics as how the couples met, how they knew the relationship was serious, deciding what to do about it, obstacles they encountered, and ways they make the relationship work. There are also a couple of sensitive chapters addressing sex and death. Two other chapters ask the interviewees about the differences in love now compared to when they were young, and about what they'd learned from their experiences.
Each chapter begins with the author's experiences with her husband Sam, who she met when she was 67 and he 77, marrying four years later. Sadly, he died a little over three years after that. In her epilogue, Pell describes what happened afterward.
This book grew out of a piece Pell wrote for the New York Times’ “Modern Love” column in January 2013. Not surprisingly, there was a huge response to the column, and that led to the interviews in the book.
The segments of each interview (and Pell's story) in each chapter are easy to find, as they have headings with the couple's names and subheadings summarizing each segment in a few words or a phrase. This made it easy for me to follow the stories of the couples (introduced at the beginning of the book) with which I felt the most in common.
This book is reaffirming for those of us in a relationship begun when (at least one of the couple was) "old," as well as encouraging for those contemplating seeking or entering such a relationship later in life.
© Amanda Pape - 2015
[This hardbound edition was sent to me in exchange for an unbiased review by the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program. It will be donated to my public or university library.]