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Karen Rinaldi is releasing a book about learning to surf in your 40s. (Rocco Rinaldi-Rose)
Karen Rinaldi is releasing a book about learning to surf in your 40s. (Rocco Rinaldi-Rose)

Breaking barriers

Literary zeitgeist reveals a generation of women embracing midlife reinvention

By WITW Staff on May 10, 2019

Women’s mid-life period, if it is talked about at all, is often framed something that should be viewed with foreboding and dismay. But as the Wall Street Journal’s Ellen Gamerman reports, this spring and summer will see the publication of a slew of books by women authors who put forth a different perspective on middle age—who view this life chapter “as a time to start over, take risks and view themselves in the world as anything but invisible.”

Among the titles landing in bookstores over the coming months is 57-year-old Darcey Steinke’s Flash Count Diary: Menopause and the Vindication of Natural Life, which explores the culture of sexism that surrounds menopause. HarperCollins editor Karen Rinaldi is releasing a book about learning to surf in your 40s. An autobiography by Candace Bushnell, whose writing was the basis for Sex and the City, will delve into sex and dating after the age of 50.

“It just seems like a new, zeitgeisty time when women are saying, ‘We’re not going to do our 50s the way everyone’s telling us we’re supposed to,’” Bushnell tells Gamerman.

Steinke says she was inspired to write about menopause after reading that two of the only creatures to go through it are human women and killer whales — after which, the latter become leaders of their pods.

Former first lady Michelle Obama (L) discusses her book ‘Becoming’ with Sarah Jessica Parker at Barclays Center on December 19, 2018 in New York City. (Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)

There certainly is a market for books by accomplished women over 50 who have valuable insight and advice to impart. Take, for example, Becoming by Michelle Obama—who is 55—which has sold more than 10 million copies. But Sarah Crichton, a former editor at Farrar, Straus and Giroux, tells Gamerman that there is specifically demand for literature that confronts middle age with dignity and honesty.

“All the anger coming from women over the last couple of years is the result of too many secrets, too many unshared experiences,” she says, “and not enough collective effort to push women forward.”

Read the full story at the Wall Street Journal.


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