Just released by The Wild Rose Press, Ruthann’s War features a May-December romance between the widowed school superintendent Drew Mallory and first-year teacher Ruthann Cooper. According to one article I researched, Drew’s and Ruthann’s relationship doesn’t qualify as a May-December romance because, at 47, he’s not in the “winter” of his life. But he’s old enough to be her father--only 7 years younger than her own father--and has a daughter around her own age.
Second chances always resonate with me, so Drew’s attraction to Ruthann, seeing in her his first and last chance for a close, happy marriage relationship, intrigued me He has a history, most of it rooted in tragedy and loss. She’s long-since finished grieving for her first love, a young pilot shot down over Germany during WW II, but she’s not sure she’s really ready to move on.
Both of them recognize the challenges presented by their age difference: family acceptance, having their own children, blending their family with Drew’s adult daughter, and age and illness. More mature and experienced, Drew understands the depth of the issues more clearly than Ruthann and cautions her to consider them before committing to him.
In the end, Ruthann is fighting a new war on two fronts: one against someone who doesn’t want her to marry Drew and the second, more critical, against Drew who’s had second thoughts based on what he knows she’ll face as the years pass.
My May-December sympathies emerged as a young teen after seeing the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific. Based on James Michener’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Tales of the South Pacific, the story of middle-aged planter Emile DeBecque’s courtship of young nurse Nellie Forbush in his own personal paradise now caught in the middle of a bloody war left me hopelessly in love with him--and with love!
On a literary level Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre also awakened my May-December sympathies as haunted Edward Rochester, master of Thornfield but not of his own soul, finds joy and lightness of life in the young governess Jane Eyre.
I also think of real-life love stories like actor Tony Randall who, after a long, happy marriage, lost his wife and eventually remarried a much younger woman. In the “winter” of his life, she gave him two adored children, a joy he and his first wife had never experienced.
Then there’s the beloved Jimmy Durante (“Goodnight, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are!”) who also had a long and happy but childless marriage. After the death of his wife, he met and finally married a younger woman. The story goes--though I can’t document it--that they applied to adopt a baby girl, but child welfare objected based on his age. Supposedly the judge said, “I’ve heard this man sing Young at Heart. Adoption granted.” The little girl became the joy of his life.
The Showboat Reunion, another May-December romance from my pen (or computer if you prefer!) is due for release by Solstice Publishing in February. Stay tuned!
And before you go, have a listen to September Song...
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