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An author should never enter a debate regarding a review. It's just a bad idea. However. A comment made by a reviewer made me pause a bit. Her review was great and I appreciate it. But her experience is very different than mine. So I am using this next couple paragraphs to give more information about some reasons why our characters are written the way they are.
A 78 year-old-reviewer said she didn't know anyone who acted like the ladies of Paradise. I am glad for her that she doesn't know the following story. But I have observed a whole different group of folks. Note: Some of the elderly or older church ladies I've known would not fit in with Fern and Zula. However, as with every age, there are extremes on both sides. And a wide road of gray in the middle (pun intended though I prefer to call my gray silver!) The town I live in has a very high population of over 65. We are ranked as one of the best cities for a healthy retirement. So. I have a little bit of knowledge with the over 65 crowd.
Beaches and a cruise ship are great places to people watch. What I have observed in those locations is that those who are shy and inhibited are that way at any age. I've seen older women buttoned up in seven layers and I've seen others in the exact age group out and about in yoga pants and crop tops. Or doing the back stroke, in a tiny swimsuit in one of the cruise ship swimming pools. I know a 90+ year-old diva-doll who dresses to the nines and possibly gets most of her wardrobe from the junior department...and talk about spicy tongue and attitude.
So. When you are on a beach look around. I promise you will see at least one 65+ man in a speedo and one leather-skinned-sun-goddess in her bikini. Silver hair glistening in the sun. Neither one seems a bit concerned about showing skin. Right next to the 20-somethings in their thong bikinis.
One elderly lady shared her concern about her Peyton Place retirement village with me. Once, while delivering greeting cards to her neighbors she encountered a naked man. He left the room of a 70-something gal and trucked across the hall in all his glory. Right past her. Not a word. He may have winked but I'm pretty sure she had buried her head in the sand at that point. That religious holiday was ruined for the poor innocent gal.
In my experience here's the bottom line. If grandma was a tiger as a kitten, chances are she still has a purr.