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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Bad Behaviour - and life after 50

I had a chance to speak to the amazing Liz Byrski the other day, author of the new novel ‘Bad Behaviour’.

A former journalist and now successful author, Liz is currently touring Australia promoting her work, which deals with women at the ‘richer’ end of the age spectrum.

Her characters are mostly 50+ and her stories are reflections of issues facing that age bracket, possibly influenced by the fact Liz wrote her first novel just before her 60th birthday.

But don’t you dare to call it chick-lit – you won’t find any flighty young things chasing the ultimate handbag, dress or man within the pages of Liz’s books.

“I was very lucky to have a new career taking off,” she says. “It’s not chick-lit because that pushes women towards finding a man to complete themselves. My books don’t push that.

“Sometimes they find the right man, or woman, but they’re very much about independence and personal growth.”

With age comes more wisdom and less pressure, Liz says, something that she tries to convey through her stories.

“I think one’s older life is interesting and full of challenges and more interesting than when you’re young.”

“But popular culture is all about youth and how everything great happens to you when you’re young.

“Ageing is wonderful and life is so much richer - you feel more at ease with yourself, you’re more prepared to take risks in many ways.

“It’s an incredibly rich time of life but it really isn’t portrayed that way.”

Liz offers her readers stories that are alternately meaty, thoughtful and inspiring, and judging by her fan mail, her writing has motivated many of her audience to embark on all kinds of life-changing behaviour - from new careers and love affairs to travel and university degrees. The ‘Byrski Effect’, as it’s becoming known, embodies a welcome dose of enthusiasm and optimism about life after 50.

Bad Behaviour deals with the lives of Zoe and Julia, and the year that changed their lives - 1968 - a time of heady politics, protest and sexual liberation. The decisions they made have shaped their lives and, 40 years on, Zoe and Julia are brought together by the consequences of their own behaviour.

Bad Behaviour by Liz Byrski, Pan Macmillan (RRP$32.99).

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