THE PRIME OF MS. AMERICA: The American Woman at 40 by Janet Harris

THE PRIME OF MS. AMERICA: The American Woman at 40

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A combination of informal sociology and spiritual counseling by a middle-aged divorced woman trying to find enjoyment and meaning in her life -- both for herself and others in her age group. Her generation had the ill-luck to gain its image of women from Priscilla Lane and the other scatterbrained, helpless creatures projected by Hollywood -- woman as tease, woman as prude, woman as other-directed object to serve husband (heroically back from the War) and children. Too often they found, when the years of hard work were finally over -- husband successful, kids grown-- that they had no interests or skills to make their freedom worthwhile, far too often stuck with a husband with whom there was suddenly nothing in common, whose sexuality was fading when hers was at its peak (the author suggests a reversal of the usual pattern of the May-December marriage), a man often off philandering to fight off the realization of his declining powers -- and with an average of eleven lonely years of widowhood to look forward to. The book's philosophy is really a homey pep talk for 40+ -- above all do what you want -- go camping, take classes, have affairs -- wherever the search for fun and serf-realization leads. It also debonks persistent (male) myths both sexual and financial: fewer than half of all divorcees ever receive alimony, widows do not own the wealth of the nation. The rifle should give the clue to the intended middle-class audience for this book -- a superficial yet useful self-help guide for those who may need it.

Pub Date: Feb. 18th, 1974
Publisher: Putnam