I was very sad this weekend to hear of the passing of Bea Arthur – American actress known best for her title role in the 70s series Maude and as the feisty, sarcastic and opinionated Dorothy Zbornak on the Golden Girls. The popularity of The Golden Girls was surprising at first. It was unique in its focus on the lives of older women and portrayed them as vibrant, fun loving and opinionated. I was just a kid when the show aired originally, but I remember watching it faithfully and being fascinated by the lives of these ladies. The show has become a bit of a cult classic – even the young ladies of The OC were into it.
There are lots of books that also focus on the lives of those approaching or living the retirement life. If you like the female focus, you might want to try The Hot Flash Club (and others in the same series) by Nancy Thayer which Publisher’s Weekly called “chick lit for the AARP crowd”. There’s also The Red Hat Club books by Haywood Smith (which has a slightly tamer spin) or the 1980s novel The First Wives Club by Olivia Goldsmith (for a bit of a feistier one).
Playing with the assumptions we often make about retirement life for comic effect is a common theme in books that feature retirees. A few other recent takes on the retirement lifestyle are Boca Knights by Steven M. Forman a comic thriller which features a no nonsense Boston cop trying to retire in Boca Raton, Florida but becoming embroiled in a the dark side of life in a retirement community. There’s also Canadian author Joan Barfoot’s recent darkly comic Exit Lines about the wild plans of several residents of the Idyll Inn retirement home who intend to be anything but idyll. And finally, if you feel it’s unfair that retirement is reserved for those of a certain age, you might enjoy Early Bird: A Memoir of Premature Retirement by Rodney Rothman: which tells the adventure of 28 year old Rothman and his decision to move to a Florida retirement village after losing his job.