Late-Life Love: A Memoir (Hardcover)
During a difficult year, acclaimed writer Susan Gubar celebrates her lasting partnership and the reciprocity of lovers in later life.
On Susan Gubar’s seventieth birthday, she receives a beautiful ring from her husband. As she contemplates their sustaining relationship, she begins to consider how older lovers differ from their youthful counterparts—and from ageist stereotypes. While her husband confronts age-related disabilities that effectively ground them, Susan dawdles over the logistics of moving from their cherished country house to a more manageable place in town and starts seeking out literature on the changing seasons of desire.
Throughout the complications of devoted caregiving, her own ongoing cancer treatments, apartment hunting, the dismantling of a household, and perplexity over the breakdown of a treasured friendship, Susan finds consolation in books and movies. Works by writers from Ovid and Shakespeare to Gabriel García Márquez and Marilynne Robinson lead Susan to appraise the obstacles many senior couples overcome: the unique sexuality of bodies beyond their prime as well as the trials of retirement, adult children, physical infirmities, the multiplications or subtractions of memory, and the aftereffects of trauma.
On the page and in life, Susan realizes that age cannot wither love. A memoir proving that the heart’s passions have no expiration date, Late-Life Love rejoices in second chances.
About the Author
Susan Gubar was awarded, with Sandra M. Gilbert, the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award by the National Book Critics Circle. She is the author of Memoir of a Debulked Woman and has authored and edited numerous works of criticism. She writes the monthly online New York Times column "Living with Cancer" and lives in Bloomington, Indiana.
[A] winning, intelligent mix of candid personal history and reflections on relevant fiction, poetry and movies... [An] impressive, often heartening addition to the literature of aging.
Gubar turns her fertile, critical mind and vast bibliographic knowledge to 'the physical and psychological, the sexual and familial challenges of later-life love.'
A unique blend of memoir and literary commentary, with Gubar at the helm as an accomplished, bravely honest, and mesmerizing guide...Gubar seamlessly weaves in lengthy discussions of a wide-range of literature...Reading these analyses is like having a season ticket to a series of fascinating literary discussions.
Gubar’s wise, honest, and frequently humorous work reveals that even amid the inevitable struggles of old age, personal and conjugal reinvention is not only quite possible, but also quite possibly lovely—both in literature and in life.
Gubar confronts life's most personal circumstances and her innermost fears and triumphs with wit, joy, sensitivity, and abundant honesty.
A deeply personal and bittersweet paean to love 'immune to the vicissitude of time.'...[A] book filled with wit, candor, and poignancy.
'Age in love loves not to have years told,' Shakespeare wrote, explaining the elaborate game of lies that enabled him to pretend that he was still young. But what if one loves and stops pretending? Susan Gubar’s Late-Life Love is a tender, unsparing, poignant answer to this question, a love story that braids together intimate self-revelation with a rich meditation on the literature of aging.
— Stephen Greenblatt
With her characteristic candor, wide-ranging intelligence, and sympathetic humor Susan Gubar has given us another astonishing memoir, of what she calls ‘late-life love’ and its vicissitudes. So vividly does Susan Gubar write, so richly, visually, and even aurally does her prose spring to life, it’s as if we are taken by the hand by the memoirist and led through the adventures of the life she and her beloved husband live in the shadow of illness and aging.
— Joyce Carol Oates
In the midst of her own life-threatening illness, her husband’s immobilizing injury, and an impending household downsizing, Susan Gubar decided to write this mesmerizing meditation on late-life love. The resulting volume provides an insightful, wry, and honest look at the physical and emotional aspects of late-life love, intertwining personal memoir with literature, philosophy, and popular culture. Gubar’s brilliantly composed book offers a delightful primer for all readers interested in this most under-examined topic.
— Henry Louis Gates, Jr.