Ten Unforgettable Older Characters in Fiction

These novels all contain older characters who stand out as being unforgettable. Some you may have already met and fallen in love with, others might require an introduction. I have a somewhat motley crew hanging around in my head keeping me company, and quite happily admit that a few of the older residents are the most memorable. The books I recommend here range from modern and contemporary through to crime and family drama, one brought tears to my eyes, while more than a few have made me chortle and smirk. I hope you enjoy meeting the older occupants of these novels as much as I did.

A Man Called Ove

A Man Called Ove

Author: Fredrik Backman Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/05/2015

59-year old Ove is quite possibly one of the grumpiest people you’ll meet but, he has been an upstanding pillar of the community for decades. The last six months have taken their toll and he decides perhaps that life is not worth living.  Ove lives in a residential area of which he is fanatical about maintaining and keeping to the rules.  A family of a pregnant mother, two daughters and an IT consultant dad move in next door.  Ove resents them.  He resents everything and everyone and so he plans his death but each attempt is thwarted mostly by people needing help.  Ove is a very practical man and so he helps, yet he remains exasperated that other people’s lives are beginning to intrude upon him.  Quirky, uplifting, charming, sad, life-affirming and totally irresistible, this is a perfect gem that will leave you with a spring in your step. ~ Sarah Broadhurst   One of the Top 10 books in the Lovereading Readers’ Choice Book of the Year 2014. One of our Books of the Year 2014. Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.

Debut Books of the Month
The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper

Author: Phaedra Patrick Format: Paperback Release Date: 22/09/2016

One of our Books of the Year 2016. October 2016 Debut of the Month. Gosh, this is an absolute treasure of a debut… and it’s full of delightful, delicious quirkiness. 69 year old widower Arthur sets out to find the truth behind a charm bracelet he discovers when sorting through his wife’s wardrobe. Arthur quickly realises that before she met him, his wife had a whole host of experiences, and Arthur knew nothing about them! Phaedra Patrick writes with a beautifully light touch, yet imbues each page with a meaningful eloquence. Arthur is a joy to get to know, you feel his sadness and bewilderment at his loneliness and loss, then as he steps out on his quest, you witness his cloistered heart and mind unfurling towards the possibilities that life can offer. ‘The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper’ fizzes with gentle humour, it encouraged my thoughts to wander in new directions, and charmed the cockles of my heart. This is a beautiful little gem of a read and I highly recommend it.  Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.

eBooks of the Month
The Good Liar

The Good Liar

Author: Nicholas Searle Format: Paperback Release Date: 11/08/2016

Shortlisted for the John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger Award 2016. This witty and twisty tale of an elderly con man intent on a final hurrah when he initially goes on a blind date with a retired, wealthy woman, brings more than smiles to the face. However she is not all she appears to be and as his own past is slowly unveiled in parallel to the con he studiously devotes himself to, increasing layers of lies and domestic intrigue are revealed which often turn the elaborate plot upside down. With echoes of Patricia Highsmith but without the die-hard cynicism, this is an affectionate and deliberately old fashioned psychological thriller with just the right touch of humour and humanity. Engrossing and with a tightly-engineered plot that holds surprises at every corner and what is there to dislike in a thriller where the main character is in his 80s? ~ Maxim Jakubowski The Lovereading view... Just fabulous. This is one of those wonderfully rare books that sets you in the middle of a familiar location and then prowls down a previously unexplored and unexpected path. Roy, vain and full to overflowing with self belief, is a liar of the highest order, it is second nature for him to deceive, to swindle and cheat, and Betty is Roy’s next target. Exquisitely pitch perfect, with clear and self assured writing, the story slides backwards in time, releasing information, raising suspicions and spiralling down into darkness. Nicholas Searle doesn't rush this tale, he openly describes Roy’s thoughts and feelings, allowing a connection to this con man, a connection that breeds disquiet and foreboding. As I turned the last page, I paused, and felt within, one of those electrifying moments before applause bursts forth. Deceptively subtle and surprising, yet bold and fearless, I will be shouting about ‘The Good Liar’, from as many rooftops as I can find. ~ Liz Robinson A 'Piece of Passion from the Publisher... I want to tell you about this fabulously compelling novel Viking is publishing in January. The response within Penguin has been extraordinary so far – with staff in every department raving about it. There have been so many ‘water cooler moments’ with people asking: ‘when did you guess?’ or, ‘I didn’t see that coming at all!’ So, dodging any possible plot spoilers, here’s a little description of the book: The Good Liar is a story of deception, brilliantly imagined – the story of a conman, Roy, about to embark on the final con of his career. His target is Betty, a woman whom he is planning to seduce and then run off with her life savings. Roy is incredibly creepy and Betty is wonderfully admirable, if a little mysterious. The twists and turns of the narrative are endlessly surprising.I’ve been in publishing for twenty years and I have only very occasionally come across novels as original as this. I have also, only very occasionally witnessed such an amazing in-house response. It would be terrific if you liked the book as much as we all do. I would love to know what you think and please do not hesitate to get in touch with me if you’d like to know more about the novel or the author.Thanks so much for your time.Yours sincerely, Mary MountPublisher, Viking/Penguin

eBooks of the Month
Saving Missy

Saving Missy

Author: Beth Morrey Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/03/2021

A debut novel to read slowly, to savour, to adore. Yes, this is a rather special and beautiful read, and I want to climb a few rooftops to shout about it. Missy Carmichael is lonely, she lives by herself in a huge house, when opportunities arise for friendship and more, can she reach out and take them? I admit to having fallen in love with Missy, she isn’t perfect and she makes mistakes (who doesn’t!), yet there is something about her that tiptoed into my heart and soul and has taken up residence. So often we just see a snapshot of someone, a moment or period in their life, however not here. Beth Morrey has not only brought her to life, but by also dipping into the past, we discover the gems that make Missy, well, Missy! The surrounding characters are a wonderfully quirky bunch, and Bob is an absolute delight. I laughed and I cried (oh how I cried). Saving Missy meanders gently, poignantly, beautifully, to what was for me, a perfect ending. I adored meeting Missy and so have chosen this lovely debut novel as one of our star books.  Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.

Audiobooks of the Month
The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared

The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared

Author: Jonas Jonasson Format: Paperback Release Date: 09/07/2015

Surprising, deliciously quirky and amusing, this gem of a book is one to treasure. Quite literally climbing out of his window, one hundred year old Allan disappears on an adventure, but this isn't his first. Alternating between the present and the past is extremely entertaining, nothing is lost but everything gained in discovering what makes Allan, Allan! While he is one of the most captivating characters to ever appear in print, Allan accrues some truly fascinating travelling companions. You get the feeling that Jonasson really enjoyed writing this novel and let his imagination run riotous rings onto the page. This is a book for adults of any age, with a reminder that to reach a century you are likely to have some pretty remarkable stories to tell (if not quite to this level of creativity). This is most definitely a must, must read… and once you’ve read it, The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden should be next on your list.  The film version of The Hundred-year-old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared was released in UK cinemas on Friday 4 July 2014. Click below to view the trailer. Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.

eBooks of the Month
The Lido

The Lido

Author: Libby Page Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/04/2019

April 2018 Debut of the Month Ahh, this is just so, so lovely… a debut that made me smile, weep, and smile some more. Rosemary is 86, she has lived in Brixton all her life, watching as Brixton has changed a building at a time, from fruit and veg shops to trendy bars. 26 year old journalist Kate is surrounded by people, yet feels completely and utterly alone, when the local lido is threatened by closure, an alliance and unexpected friendship is formed. Libby Page has a lovely quick-witted, gently quirky writing style, surprising me with observations and unexpected detail (adored the fox!). I loved travelling through memories, getting to know Rosemary and Kate, and seeing the small snapshots of the lives they touch. While it is a truly beautiful read, part of the beauty is in the emotion I felt, pain and heartache is embraced, hugged, soothed. ‘The Lido’ is a deliciously warm and entertaining slice of wonderful, and I absolutely adored it.

Star Books
My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises

My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises

Author: Fredrik Backman Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/04/2016

April 2016 Book of the Month. Totally and utterly and completely gorgeous in every way, the thought of having to put this book down for even a second is inconceivable. The first few pages make you smile, make you laugh and charm you, there is a hint though, of the difficulties that seven (nearly eight) year old Elsa is experiencing. Elsa’s shrewd, wonderful bonkers of a Granny tells her fairy tales, and like all good fairy tales there's more than a dollop of truth and reality mixed in, so ensure you're sitting comfortably and the tale can begin. There is a beautiful simplicity to the writing, yet this is not a simple book by any means, there is a complexity to the emotions it evokes and explores. Elsa and her Granny are two of the most astonishingly different characters to ever appear in print (and that’s a compliment by the way). Set aside some quality time, so you can laugh and cry undisturbed, as the author is able to enchant, to capture your imagination and hold it spellbound from the first to the last page; this is a must have, must read, must treasure book. Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.

Star Books
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

Author: Rachel Joyce Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/01/2013

Winner of the Specsavers National Book Awards 'New Writer of the Year' 2012. Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2012. This is one of those books that you can’t help but fall in love with. Experienced radio playwright but debut novelist Rachel Joyce has written a moving and poignant, yet comic, story with such affecting characters it’s hard to stop reading – rather like the journey the central character Harold takes. And it all starts with a simple letter… wonderful. One of the Richard and Judy Spring 2013 Book Club selections.   Listen to an audio extract by clicking on the orange arrow below.   The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce by Random House Audiobooks

eBooks of the Month
The Thursday Murder Club

The Thursday Murder Club

Author: Richard Osman Format: Paperback Release Date: 13/05/2021

Our October 2020 Book Club Recommendation. Click here to see our Reading Group Questions. An absolutely charming and thoroughly entertaining mystery debut starring four septuagenarians. A real-life murder tickles the detective fancy of certain members from a well-to-do retirement village. Led by Elizabeth they sneakily make themselves indispensable to the investigating officers. I’m already working out who I would cast as Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim, and Ron if this was made into a TV series. Each character in this amusing (yes it is charming and amusing even with a murder to solve) story is perfectly placed. There is a sense of ease, an inviting warmth, and a hint of old-fashioned, yet this story is actually bang up-to-date. A sharp edge to observations slices through any thoughts of cosy, while there is a gentle poking of fun at middle England. Richard Osman has created a wonderfully readable story that is the perfect introduction to a new series. I can't wait to see what comes next! The Thursday Murder Club has waltzed its way into my heart and the LoveReading Star Books list - highly recommended.

Star Books
The One in a Million Boy

The One in a Million Boy

Author: Monica Wood Format: Hardback Release Date: 05/04/2016

One of our Books of the Year 2016. April 2016 Book of the Month. Absolutely enchanting, and not in a sugary syrupy sweet way, oh no, instead this is earthy and vibrant and real. Miss Ona Vitkus is 104 years old, she lives on her own, relatively undisturbed, and then the 11 year old boy turns up on her doorstep. The two become unlikely friends, with world records, birds and life histories becoming main topics of conversation. Monica Wood writes with beautiful empathy, she doesn't judge, or even provoke, she sets this gorgeous story in motion and allows you, as the reader along on the journey. I particularly loved the transcripts of the tape recordings, it just consists of “shards” of thoughts, and the replies of Miss Vitkus to questions, however the boy is there, his presence is undeniable and the pages simply overflow with his energy. ‘The One-In-A-Million Boy’ is about a meeting of minds and hearts, of friendship and living life, it’s a particularly lovely and charming read, and you might just raise your eyebrow at a world record or two along the way. Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.

Books of the Month

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