THE LAST GIFT OF TIME by Carolyn G. Heilbrun

THE LAST GIFT OF TIME

Life Beyond Sixty

KIRKUS REVIEW

 This very satisfactory collection of essays celebrates the author's seventh decade as she looks back on it from her serene and energetic eighth. Heilbrun is a former Columbia University professor and a writer noted both for her feminist scholarship (Writing a Woman's Life, 1988, etc.) and her Amanda Cross mysteries. Satisfactorily married for half a century, the mother of three grown children, and a grandmother, she nevertheless planned to commit suicide when she reached 70. But when that magic number arrived, she discovered in looking back that living through her 60s had been an ``astonishing'' pleasure. Unlike some of her peers--Doris Grumbach and May Sarton among them--she has not grown crankier as she has grown older, and she attributes that in part to a life with ``many advantages,'' including good health and the discovery of close women friends. At first glance, the essays encompass a broad diversity of subjects, from Bianca the black dog to the joys of E-mail to androgyny and bisexuality (in a liberating section called ``On Not Wearing Dresses''), and including thoughts on living with men and on the fantasies of a lifelong Anglophile. Yet in fact, the range is narrow. Each piece, more or less fruitfully, discusses coming to terms with the past and formulating the terms of the present ``without a constant . . . stream of anger and resentment, without the daily contemplation of power always in the hands of the least worthy.'' In essence, the author describes a state not of growing older, but of being older, a state that incorporates both grace and growth. Drawing elegantly on the poets and authors she has taught and written about, from Andrew Marvell to Gloria Steinem, Heilbrun offers a glimpse not only of the rewards of aging, but of feminist battles fought and won.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-385-31325-X
Page count: 220pp
Publisher: Dial
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1997




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