I am not a fan of super age gap love stories. I was not going to read this book because the main characters have a 30+ year age difference and thought that I would be put off by it. After reading several favorable reviews from trusted goodreads friends, I decided to buy this and give it a try.
I’m glad to report that I did not have any adverse reactions to the story. In fact, I very much enjoyed it.
The author mentioned that this is an unconventional love story. I’ll agree with that. A lot of reviewers said this is not a romance, it is a love story. But I have to disagree. This was a romance by my interpretation.
It’s the 1980’s. Meryn Fleming begins a new job teaching at a small town Catholic university. She initially finds housing in a dorm-like boarding house. She finds herself running into Henrietta Cochran, a 50-something-year-old woman who is physically challenged as a result of Polio from when she was a teenager. Since another one of Henrietta’s live-ins has left, she invites Meryn to come and help her in exchange for living rent free.
This is a heartfelt story with a lot of things happening throughout. Meryn has to work through some chauvinism and unfairness at work. She befriends some nuns that challenge and also lift her. She faces a no-win request and has to deal with the sad fallout. And she ultimately has to identify and confront her growing feelings for her older housemate.
Inspired by Meryn’s open and kind nature, Henrietta allows herself to experience things outside of her comfort zone. She begins to see things differently. Unfortunately, she knows that Meryn would never entertain the idea of having romantic feelings for her. And even if she did, it would be completely absurd.
I loved how the author referenced a lot of 80s things to really get the reader into the decade. I certainly felt transported back in time. A lot of it did have to do with politics and activism. I could have done without that but it was appropriate for the characterization of Meryn.
There were only a couple of things I didn’t care for. Henrietta is from New York but she would say things like ‘Posh’ and think things like she was going to have a ‘row’ with her country club friends. I’m not familiar with the author, but that made me think that she is British and some of her language bled through on accident.
The other thing is a little spoilery and has to do with physical intimacy. So I won’t go into it here. Just that I would have made different decisions with the story telling in this regard.
Overall, it was a wonderful story that leaves you feeling like more people should do things without caring what other people think. Follow your heart no matter where it takes you.
I recommend this to those who like to read about love stories, age gap romances, education, religion, politics, disabled persons, art, and y’uns.