These novels aren't just for empty nesters, but they explore issues that are all too familiar to families going through this dramatic transition in life. Great presents for parents!
And if you're looking for non-fiction support and advice, there's always my book The Empty Nest: How to Survive and Stay Close to Your Adult Child!
These are my eight top reads - great for dads as well as mums.
The ultimate empty nest meltdown. And proof, if it was needed, that the empty nest affects men too.
* Olive Kitteridge
by the Pullitzer prize-winning writer Elizabeth Strout. In one of the stories that make up this wonderful novel, it's the father, not the mother, who suffers most from his sons leaving. It precipitates a crisis which threatens to shatter his marriage. Here's a taste:
'Something else happened the year Derrick went off to college. While their bedroom life had slowed considerably, Harmon had accepted this, had sensed for some time that Bonnie was “accommodating” him. But one night he turned to her in bed, and she pulled away. After a long moment she said quietly, “Harmon, I think I’m just done with that stuff.”'
* Brooklyn - a story of Emigration
It's hard for any parent when a child moves an ocean away. But in the Fifties communication and the cost of travel made everything much harder for parents and kids. This often unbearably sad story about emigrating sees things through the adult child's eyes - a viewpoint surprisingly rare in empty nest discussions.
This wonderful novel is about so much more than the issues facing empty nesters. But at its heart is a raw, painful portrait of a family and a mid-life marriage in crisis.
* Second Honeymoon
Classic Trollope: gripping, poignant and hits the nail on the head time and time again. Here empty nest mum Edie clears out her departed son's bedroom:
'You come to a house, Edie thought, carrying almost more life, more people, than you can manage. And then, over time, almost everything you have carried in begins to leak out again, inexorably, and you are left clutching fallen curtains at ten o'clock on a Saturday morning instead of applying yourself, with all your new reserves of no longer required maternal energy, to quality leisure.'
* The Woman Who Went to Bed For a Year
All the humour and caustic wit you'd expect from Townsend, with some brilliantly irritating characters (Poppy is classic) but it's touching too.
* While I Was Gone
A thriller - sort of - in which a murder from the protagonist's hippy past comes back to haunt her and tests her relationship with her husband and daughters to breaking point.
* The Empty Nesters
Three women have shared school runs and summer holidays since their children were babies. When their kids leave home, secrets and lies are exposed which threaten their marriages - and their friendship.