Hilary Boyd has turned pension passion into a literary sensation, says Rachel Borrill.
ARE you ever too old for romance and love? No, is the resounding answer, as proven by the success of the latest literary sensation, Thursdays in the Park, which details a passionate affair between an aged 60 something couple.
Described as ‘Gran Lit,’ Hilary Boyd, 63, is “amazed and shocked’’ by the reaction to her first novel. The romantic tale describes how Jeanie meets the man of her dreams, Ray, in a park while they are both minding their grandchildren.
Unfortunately, Jeanie is married to George. Their marriage is stale, boring and sexless. He moved out of the marital bed years ago and refuses to discuss his emotions or reasoning.
“No one ever talks about older love, it’s what my children call an ‘ewww moment’. But the fact is our generation is much fitter than our parents, we are more aware of our bodies and are able to vocalise our needs and demands. We are allowed to have sex,’’ says Boyd.
To date, Thursdays in the Park has sold over 100,000 copies and is the number one seller on Amazon’s kindle chart. It has also been translated into six European languages, including Norwegian, and the film rights are currently under negotiation.
Such is its success that the book, has been labelled “Fifty Shades of Grey For the Over 60s” a description Hilary is keen to dismiss.
“The sex is very, very subtle. I found it super hard to write, I really was outside my comfort zone,’’ she explains, laughing.
“In fact my editor said to me, ‘You will have to up the ante on this one because I don’t even know whether they have done it.’ I thought that was hilarious.’’
Although her dream career was always to be a novelist, Boyd has had a wide range of jobs, including being a marriage guidance counsellor, which helped in the honest portrayal of Jeanie and George’s stale marriage.
“I have listened to endless tales of boredom. Everyone always thinks infidelity is the biggest cause of a marital breakdown. It isn’t — it’s boredom,’’ she says.
“It breaks my heart to see a couple in a restaurant, only conversing with the waiter, and not each other. I know people says it’s a companionable silence, but I just think it is sad they have so little to say to each other.’’
So what is the secret of a good marriage? Boyd, who has been married to Don, a filmmaker, for over 40 years, laughs loudly, before admitting it’s probably down to luck.
“I think it is also important to stick in there. Do not give up too easily. You are bound to have had bad times, during those 40 years, probably quite a few, but it is seeing those times out and remembering why you fell in love in the first place,’’ she says.
“I think you also have to be very lucky. I love talking to my husband. We have a lot to say to each other, it is probably all twaddle but we love sitting there for hours just gassing.’’
Despite the success of her book, Boyd is keen to stress that she does not want it to be seen as a guide to adultery or encourage people to divorce on a whim.
“My book is fiction. Divorce is pretty horrible at any age for the parents and the children. So I think we must not get carried away with ‘Gran Lit’ being this great liberation and everybody legging it from their marriages,’’ she says.
“But I do think people should look at their lives, seize the day. What have you got to loose? To stay in a horrible marriage? To stay in a job or anything you don’t like after the age of 60 is daft. You need to explore what you really want out of life.’’
¦ Thursdays In The Park is published by Quercus, € 14.95.
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