While her daughter Flora anxiously awaits her 60th birthday, having dreamt years ago that she would die at that age, 86-year-old Beverly Hills widow Muriel Margolin uncovers surprising, uplifting secrets about old age.
Written with lyrical urgency by a seasoned San Franciscan, this is a rare and much-needed novel that investigates old age without cuteness or sentimentality—and with sexual candor. Widowed after a 60-year marriage, the latter fourth of which were spent caring for her ill husband, Muriel is frightened by the prospects of living alone—and of "floating free, letting go." Even as widowers circle around her, offering meals for company and affection, she believes no one of any worth would be interested in a woman her age. But along comes a tall, reserved, jumpsuit-wearing Southerner named Wilbur, who whisks her away on a car tour of bridge tournaments, fast-food eateries and Motel 6s. And then, more to her liking, comes Gene, a computer repairman whose boasts of sexual conquests awaken her hidden-away desire. Flora, the more attentive of her two daughters, with whom she now lives in San Francisco, is a liberal, Zen-practicing child of the '60s married to a rabbi with whom she has great sex and goes kayaking. (Jaffe's late husband, Alan Lew, was a rabbi with whom she wrote One God Clapping: The Spiritual Path of a Zen Rabbi, 2001.) Only after her mother survives two bizarre accidents, and her own "expiration date," does Flora reassess her life expectancy. Written with warmth, humor, wisdom and sublime control, this page-turning novel succeeds as a meditation on aging; as an examination of the impact of life's hourglass on serious decisions; and as a character study. The happy ending is a bit pat but is fully earned.
A funny, sexy look at a woman's emergence in her 80s.