It may be that menopause saw Greer (Daddy, We Hardly Knew You, 1989, etc.) coming and quaked, for surely the subject will never be quite the same again. Women, contends Greer, need not feel helpless in the face of what she calls ``the fifth climacteric'' (the others are birth, menstruation, defloration, and childbirth). ``The climacteric marks the end of apologizing,'' says Greer, and her book will give the committed reader the information she needs to begin to change into the author's ideal of a serene and powerful woman ``climbing her own mountain, in search of her own horizon.'' Writing no mere paean to the glories of life over 50, Greer looks at menopause through history and literature, skewering the medical establishment--the ``Masters of Menopause''--for its ignorance on the subject after so many centuries, and suggesting her own theories when others fall short (for instance, that menopausal symptoms may reflect too much estrogen, not too little). Differentiating between misery (self- pitying old women longing for their youth and sexuality) and legitimate grief (for the loss of the womb), Greer combs literature for positive images of older women, finding few in fiction--or real life. Even Colette and Simone de Beauvoir have little that is positive or optimistic to say about growing older. Mme. de Maintenon, mistress of Louis XIV, and actress Joan Collins, among others, do. Intensively researched, intelligently written, this erudite, literate work--a brilliant philosophical complement to Gail Sheehy's bestselling The Silent Passage (p. 381)--should inspire change in how we think about The Change.