Competent, relaxed, to-the-point advice for the new middle age-that first generation of women with two-thirds of their lives left after their children leave home and the freedom to enjoy those years fully. Through interviews with physicians, psychologists, sociologists, and several score middle-aged women, Lake discusses the possibilities--and the anxieties--on the physical, emotional, and intellectual fronts. She takes up the death of parents (a reminder of one's own mottality--but also ""a spur to growth""), widowhood, and divorce; she faces the unpleasant facts of skin and hair change, and also ""the crippling twin addictions that may appear at midlife: alcoholism and popping prescription pills."" She is most valuably informative, however, on controversial issues in women's medicine. Apropos od birth control, she stresses the special need of older women for 100 percent effectiveness, and the increased risks (pill users in their late thirties are six times more likely to experience complications than younger women; IUDs sometimes cause bleeding which can mask the symptoms of uterine cancer, particularly common in this age group). Hysterectomies, while often justified, are the most abused of all operations on women; always seek a second opinion, she counsels, before undergoing such surgery (and beware especially of the routine removal of the ovaries--at least one should be left to allow the body to function normally as long as it can). Supporters of estrogen therapy are taken to task; not only are there proven risks (endometrial cancer), but there is no indication, reports the FDA, that ERT is of value in treating nervousness or depression, in keeping the skin soft or making a woman feel young. All of this medical expertise and gentle exhortation is delivered with a confidence that women can, indeed, face up to their aging selves; it's a commendable book altogether.