Here’s a simple truth: people often enjoy books the most when they can relate closely to the main character. I’ve compiled my summer reading list to include books featuring female characters over 50!
Finding novels featuring older women as main characters is a refreshing departure from the traditional portrayal of women as young and carefree. In this collection of novels, we get immersed in the complex and nuanced experiences of women over fifty.
Many of these novels delve into the challenges and triumphs that come with aging, such as:
- navigating changing relationships,
- grappling with mortality, and
- finding new passions and purpose.
These older characters are going through many of the experiences we are, and give us something to relate to and learn from. Long live books featuring female characters over 50!
Bring on the older women!
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10 Books With Female Characters over 50
1. The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
Maeve is a fiercely independent woman who is determined to take control of her life, despite her inability to move on from a troubled childhood and the bond she shares with her overprotected younger brother.
Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize | New York Times bestseller | Time Magazine’s 100 Must-Read Books of 2019
2. and 3. Olive Kitteridge and Olive, Again by Elizabeth Stroud
This two-book series follows the life of Olive, a seventy+-year-old retired schoolteacher living in a small town in Maine.
Olive is a complex and flawed character who grapples with loneliness, regret, and the challenges of aging. Despite her prickly exterior, Olive is a deeply empathetic character who readers will root for throughout these novels.
Pulitzer Prize Winner | The inspiration for the Emmy Award-winning HBO miniseries
3. The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn
Anna Fox, a child psychologist who suffers from agoraphobia, spends her days drinking wine and spying on her neighbors. When a new family moves in across the street, Anna witnesses something she shouldn’t have, and the story takes a dark turn.
The book is a psychological thriller that keeps the reader guessing until the very end.
#1 New York Times Best Seller
4. The Last Cruise by Kate Christensen
The story takes place on a final voyage of a luxurious ocean liner that is about to be retired. Things take a dark turn when a series of mysterious events occur on the ship, and widowed food writer Christine Thorne finds herself in the middle of a dangerous situation.
“The Last Cruise” is a must-read for anyone who enjoys a good mystery novel with a strong female lead.
“A captivating voyage. . . . A tremendously entertaining novel that never asks readers to turn their brains off.” —NPR
5. The Last Chance Library by Freya Sampson
When the library where she works is threatened with closure due to budget cuts, June Jones takes matters into her own hands and starts a campaign to save the library. Along the way, she forms a bond with a young girl named Sybil who is struggling with her own issues. Through their friendship, June learns to confront her own past and embrace the present.
This heartwarming and uplifting novel explores themes of community, friendship, and the power of books. Sampson’s writing is engaging and charming, making it a perfect read for anyone who loves books and libraries.
A Good Morning America Buzz Pick | A Library Reads Pick
6. The Switch by Beth O’Leary
Eileen is newly single and about to turn 80. She’d like a second chance at love, but her tiny Yorkshire village doesn’t offer many eligible gentlemen. When her granddaughter, overachiever Leena Cotton, is ordered to take a two-month sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work, she escapes to her grandmother Eileen’s house for some long-overdue rest.
Then they decide to swap lives for two months.
“Add this to your summer reading list…Everyone needs to devour immediately.” ―USA Today
7. The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel
Eva Traube Abrams, a semi-retired librarian in Florida, is shelving books when her eyes lock on a photograph in the New York Times. She freezes; it’s an image of a book she hasn’t seen in more than sixty years—a book she recognizes as The Book of Lost Names.
An engaging and evocative novel, The Book of Lost Names is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the power of bravery and love.
“This lovely tale offers hope in troubled times.” –The Toronto Star
8. Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf
Addie and Louis have long been living alone in empty houses, the nights so terribly lonely, especially with no one to talk with. But maybe that could change. As Addie and Louis come to know each other better–their pleasures and their difficulties–a beautiful story of second chances unfolds.
Our Souls at Night is the perfect final installment of this beloved writer’s enduring contribution to American literature.
“A fine and poignant novel that demonstrates that our desire to love and to be loved does not dissolve with age.” —Joseph Peschel, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch
9. Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney
She took 1930s New York by storm, working her way up writing copy for R.H. Macy’s to become the highest-paid advertising woman in the country. It was a job that, she says, “in some ways saved my life, and in other ways ruined it.”
Now it’s the last night of 1984 and Lillian, 85 years old but just as sharp and savvy as ever, is on her way to a party. Lillian figures she might as well take her time. For now, after all, the night is still young.
“Lillian’s wide-ranging meditations are reason enough to read this charming novel, but it’s also like taking a street-level tour through six decades of New York.”―New York Times
10. Still Life With Bread Crumbs by Anna Quindlen
Brilliantly written, powerfully observed, Still Life with Bread Crumbs is a deeply moving and often very funny story of unexpected love, and a stunningly crafted journey into the life of a woman, her heart, her mind, her days, as she discovers that life is a story with many levels, a story that is longer and more exciting than she ever imagined.
“Charming . . . a hot cup of tea of a story, smooth and comforting about the vulnerabilities of growing older . . . a pleasure.”—USA Today
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Final Thoughts On 10 Books Featuring Female Characters Over 50
I love to read, and I find it really refreshing to pick up a novel with an intelligent, well-developed, mature main character – who happens to be a woman over the age of 50!
Have you read any of the books on this list? What books would you add? Tell me in the comments!
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