Ann Arbor-based novelist Camille Pagán (Forever Is the Worst Long Time, Life and Other Near Death Experiences) was in the midst of writing a book that wasn’t going anywhere when she had an unnerving grocery-store experience.
“This guy, a college kid … bumped into me and didn’t even look at me or say anything,” said Pagán, who also noted that on other occasions while out shopping, she’d observed “when a cashier would talk to and make conversation with a middle-aged man but then not talk to the middle-aged woman who was next in line. This seemed to me to really be saying something about our society and how we view and treat women as they age.”
Indeed, Pagán’s grandmother “once made the observation that it was better to be an old woman than a middle-aged woman,” said Pagán. “She said, ‘When you’re an old woman, people open doors for you, they offer you a seat, they talk to you.’ … And I was on the cusp of middle age, so I already knew what things looked like from that perspective.”
These incidents planted the seed for Pagán’s newest novel, Woman Last Seen in Her Thirties, which tells the story of Maggie, an anxious, 53-year-old empty nester in Chicago who’s blindsided when her husband, Adam, suddenly announces he’s in love with a 30-year-old and wants out of the marriage. When Maggie decides to still take the trip to Rome the couple had been planning for their upcoming anniversary, she meets a new friend — a female painter named Jean who’s heading to Italy for a six-month-long fellowship — who offers Maggie the chance to have a change of scenery by house-sitting her place in Ann Arbor. READ THE REST HERE