Author: Zidrou (illustrator) & Aimée De Jongh (contributor); translated from French by Matt Madden
Publish Date: May 2019
Publisher: Self Made Hero
Catalog ID: ISBN: 978-1910593622
Author website: https://aimeedejongh.wordpress.com/
Additional info: Illustrator's website: https://www.europecomics.com/author/zidrou/
by Soph Myers-Kelley
Blossoms in Autumn is a soft, delicate love story concerning two older, single adults dealing with grief and loss. Some of the medical topics covered include sexuality of older adults, grief, menopause, menstruation, isolation, sex work, and pregnancy. It might be more suitable for young adults and older, given the nudity and sexual depictions.
One of the adults, Ulysses, is a 59-year-old man recently let go from his long-standing job with a moving company. Ulysses’ transition into retirement is anything but joyful; he becomes lost in the routines that used to bring him happiness. Cleaning his apartment, going grocery shopping, watching sports at the bar… none of them hold the interest they once used to, and he scrambles to find whatever change is needed to enjoy his world again. His son, a doctor, is too busy to fix his father’s life, and his daughter has long since passed away. Ms. Solenza, a 62-year-old former model, now runs the cheesemaking family business her late mother passed down to her. She, too, is single, and feeling alone.
Both are dealing with stereotypes and archetypes about aging. Ms. Solenza feels like she has become the witch she watched in Snow White as a small girl. Seeing her aging body is difficult for her and she has complex feelings about the wrinkles, varicose veins, and changes in her shape. While looking at her body in the mirror, her thoughts accompany it:
“The body gives up faster than the soul. Time wrinkles it, wounds it, debases it… varicose veins, menopause… leaving it winded, a caricature… the body plays along, a good sport. The soul, though, is a sore loser. It takes its time blowing out the same number of candles as the body, it only concedes in fits and starts… through painful revelations… through a series of frights.” (72)
Ulysses was originally married to a woman named Penelope – before she died. Their marriage was riddled with silly and well-intentioned Odyssey-related puns, and one family member even gifted them an expensive leather-bound copy of the book. In these ways, both protagonists’ stories are married to literature and media. The book is not immune to some gender stereotypes, which was slightly off-putting for me.
The two meet by happenstance at the doctor’s office where Ulysses’ son works, and things move quickly from there. During a date dining on cheese and wine, Ulysses learns about his date’s first name, and announces, “Mediterranea… that’s not a first name… it’s an invitation to a voyage!” (85). And boy, do a voyage they go on. This book shares vulnerable, intimate moments of two humans falling in love. During the scene where they first have sex together, the art, which up until this point has been colorful and detailed drawings, become much more (intentionally) unfinished. The rawness of the pencil-drawings—still seeing the many lines that help form the figures—creates a sense of intimacy that is appropriate to the physical closeness in the scene.
While this book has its flaws, it’s a good romance for those interested in an underrepresented demographic, and the potential implications for sexual activity for those in love in their 50’s or 60’s.
Soph Myers-Kelley is a medical librarian, herbalist, and activist living in North Carolina. They can be contacted at https://www.smyerskelley.com/ and followed at https://www.instagram.com/sophmyerskelley/