ON WOMEN TURNING 60: Embracing the Age of Fulfillment by Cathleen Rountree

ON WOMEN TURNING 60: Embracing the Age of Fulfillment

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A delightful series of interviews with accomplished women in their 60s that celebrates both the pain and the newfound freedom of growing older. Rountree (The Heart of Marriage, not reviewed, etc.) does not draw on the usual cast of feminist icons. The subjects constitute a cross-section of women, including politicians, performers, artists, writers, activists, and even one who styles herself a ""woman warrior."" Some are relatively well-known--folk singer Mary Travers, author Ursula K. LeGuin, primatologist Jane Goodall; others are accomplished in other spheres--poet Nellie Wong, tympanist Elayne Jones, quilter Virginia Harris. There are 20 women in all, each one briefly introduced with a picture and a bio, followed by a first-person narrative reflecting on the meanings of turning 60. The bios verge on the gushing sometimes, but Rountree is a skilled interviewer and leads her subjects to relect honestly and often eloquently about the decade that Carolyn G. Heilbrun, who wrote the foreword to this volume, has called a ""gift."" Their voices are distinctive--Matilda Cuomo speaks in the carefully framed sentences of a longtime political wife as she outlines her plans for a national mentoring program for young people, while Oh Shinnah Fast Wolf, the warrior, offers rich stories about her ""messy"" life. The women sometimes disagree about fundamentals. ""Grow"" older rather than ""get"" older is one piece of advice novelist Fay Weldon crankily contradicts: ""Stop trying to grow . . . [have] a little less passion for self-improvement or perfection."" What they frequently have in common is a drive to stay healthy (many have no health insurance) and a take-it-or-leave-it attitude about sex and romance. Inspiring, yes, and as full of vivid anecdotes as a gossipy letter from an old friend.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1997
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Harmony