Charli Mills’ call for 99-word stories pairing an old woman and a beast hit the sweet spot this week. A month away from publication of my novel, Lyrics for the Loved Ones, there’s only one old woman on my mind. Matty confronts several beasts in this story, set across thirteen tumultuous months beginning in June 2019. I’ve captured two in my contribution. I hope it whets your appetite and doesn’t give too much away.
Matty’s centenary gala was set to outrank even the Queen’s official birthday extravaganza, until the beast intervened. Locked in to lock out the virus, how could she grace the stage? Born before the invention of television, she knew nothing of the tablet that could bring the world to her room. But Bluebell knew. The teenage care assistant found the old woman an audience that spread from Alaska to Timbuktu. The beast was tamed, or so it seemed. Aren’t all ogres teddy bears in disguise? Alas another was looming. Could the savage beast of racial injustice crush even Matty’s charm?
If you’d like more recommendations of novels with older characters, your go-to woman is Caroline Lodge. Caroline, co-author of The New Age of Ageing and Retiring with Attitude, has been on a quest to find books that depict older people, especially older women, as real humans, with the full range of emotions and experiences. She has now reviewed over sixty and I’m delighted that Matty, from Lyrics for the Loved Ones, will soon be joining this list. Caroline sums up my novel: vividly illuminates recent inequalities, with humour and humanity.