A review of One Last Dance (Calliope, 2005) by Mardo Williams, with his daughters, Kay Williams & Jerri Williams Lawrence.
This is a romance novel, an "elder lit" romance novel, if such a category existed. Perhaps it should. I applaud older authors (Williams was 92 when he wrote this book), or any authors, for that matter, who treat elders as real people rather than stereotypes and consider them worthy subjects for fiction.
Main characters Morgan and Dixie meet contentiously in an accidental physical collision outside the Whispering Pines senior residence. Morgan, 89, is considering moving to the independent living section, and Dixie, 79, works there part time.
All the usual problems of old age are present: bad previous family relationships, clouded pasts, suspicions, heath and financial issues, loneliness, hopes, plans, disappointments. At 89 and 79, Morgan and Dixie carry much more emotional baggage than most romance novel characters--but fortunately, more spirit and knowledge, much of it experienced-based, as well.
As they tentatively and gradually fall in love, Morgan and Dixie face their challenges together with the eventual help of Morgan's long-lost grandson. Youth and age combine for a positive outlook toward uncertain futures.
My pessimistic side tells me that this book's ending is unrealistic, yet we all can, and should, hope that our dreams will come true if we keep trying. The positive message overshadows doubts.
This skillfully-written book by a former journalist should be required reading for everyone involved in elder caregiving and everyone contemplating the issue of aging. It is honest, informative, and entertaining, a pleasure to read.
The book includes a Reading Group Guide which would seem to make it an excellent choice for Senior--and Boomer--book clubs.
Copyright 2008 by Marlys Marshall Styne