An inspiring collection of interviews with 25 extraordinary women who are riding the wave of middle age and beyond with courage and confidence. The women who speak frankly and thoughtfully in this book range from the celebrated, like Sally Jessy Raphael, 52 years old, to the dedicated, like theologian Elizabeth Watson, 82; from self-styled witch Laurie Cabot, 63, to Roman Catholic Sister Monica Weis, 53; from sensual songstress Eartha Kitt, 67, to political wife Matilda Cuomo, 63. As disparate as these women may have seemed to be in youth and even middle agefrom horribly abused children like poet and activist Janice Mirikitani to beloved daughters like tennis star Billie Jean Kingas they grow older, they come closer together in their needs and goals: overcoming fear, discovering who they are rather than whom they should serve, exploring spirituality in whatever form it may take. Some of these first-person monologues are only a few pages long, but common themes emerge, guided by questions from editor Benatovich, who works for Oracle Press, a publishing company specializing in the concerns of women over 50. Among the themes: shaking the shackles of possessions (``There is so much responsibility involved in owning things,'' says educator Marva Collins); confronting mortality by a reconciliation with nature (``From Whitman, I learned the concept of death as eternal recycling,'' observes theologian Watson); and enjoying the moment (``We must carpe diem . . . because yesterday's gone and tomorrow's unsure,'' urges writer Bel Kaufman). All agree that older women become invisible in today's culture, but as writer Grace Paley says, ``. . . the people who think we're invisible, they are the dumb schmucks.'' The dumb schmucks as well as more open-minded readers of any age and gender will be enlightened by the vitality, optimism, and, yes, wisdom in these reflections.
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