Successful women writers reflect on being mature and female in early-21st-century America.
In this sequel to The Bitch in the House (2002), novelist/journalist Hanauer (Gone, 2012, etc.) gathers essays by nine original Bitch contributors and by such writers as Jennifer Finney Boylan, Robin Rinaldi, Sandra Tsing Loh, and Kate Christensen. The book is divided into four sections and begins with musings on lifestyle choices. Original contributor Pam Houston begins the anthology by reflecting on lessons she has learned about herself—for example, how her need for alone time trumps any need for a relationship—since writing her first Bitch essay. Transgender writer Boylan uses her move to a new job in New York as an opportunity to meditate on the upheaval that took place when she first came out. Sexual expression at midlife is the subject of the second section. Writers Robin Rinaldi and Sara Crichton write about the liberating sexual rebirths they experienced after ages 40 and 55, and Grace O’Malley discusses the unexpected joys of weekly scheduled sex with her husband of many decades. In the third section, women tell stories of the tribulations of married life. Erin White discusses how she and her wife “were the very opposite of radical” in the problems they faced and overcame as spouses, while Loh reflects on the rocky road to sharing a less-than-perfect life with her “lovable, getting-on-in-years” boyfriend. The final section deals with different kinds of starting over. For Susan Sonnenberg, a new life meant taking a chance on “the impulsive and rash and glorious" and saying “yes” to a second husband. But for Cynthia Kling, it meant a volunteer job teaching prison inmates that taught her lessons in “what really matters in life.” Sharp and lively, these essays offer insight not only into individual writers, but an entire generation of women coming to terms with the possibilities and limitations of their lives as older females.
A provocative collection about “what happens later, after those frantic, demanding, exhausting years with work and very young kids and, sometimes, not enough money.”