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A Round-Heeled Woman: My Late-Life Adventures in Sex and Romance [Hardcover]

Jane Juska
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 6 2003
“Round-heeled” is an old-fashioned label for a woman who is promiscuous—someone who nowadays might be called “easy.” It’s a surprising way for a cultured English teacher with a passion for the novels of Anthony Trollope to describe herself, but then that’s just the first of many surprises to be found in this poignant, funny, utterly unique memoir. Jane Juska is a smart, energetic divorcée who decided she’d been celibate too long, and placed the following personal ad in her favorite newspaper, The New York Review of Books:

Before I turn 67—next March—I would like to have a lot of sex with a man I like. If you want to talk first, Trollope works for me.

This closing reference was a nod to her favorite author, of course. The response was overwhelming, and Juska took a sabbatical from teaching to meet some of the men who had replied. And since her ad made it clear that she wasn’t expecting just hand-holding, her dates zipped from first base to home plate in record time.

Juska is a totally engaging, perceptive writer, funny and frank about her exploits. It’s high time someone revealed the fact that older single people are as eager for sex and intimacy as their younger counterparts. Jane Juska’s brave, honest memoir will probably raise eyebrows and blood pressure, but it will undoubtedly appeal to the very large audience of grown-up readers who will be fascinated and inspired by her daring adventure.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Contrary to the lurid title (a "round-heeled woman" was once slang for a prostitute), Juska is a semiretired English teacher with refined tastes: Trollope novels , opera and museums. "Before I turn 67-next March," she wrote to the personals column of the New York Review of Books, "I would like to have a lot of sex with a man I like." While her adventures meeting these men frame her narrative, she's no geriatric Emmanuelle on a coast-to-coast fling, in spite of proclamations like "I adore penises." It's just that she was raised by repressed Midwesterners and had never managed-given her spiritual and physical bulk-a truly fulfilling love affair. Married to a loveless man, she then spent years in social retreat as a single mom. By the time she emerged from her chrysalis, she realized she'd never had a chance at pleasure, hence the ad and her comic adventures with the assortment of men culled from the daily mail. While it's no surprise that the best man comes last and that he's a hunk with a brilliant mind, this Harold-Maude liaison is hardly the most compelling chapter of this quirky little memoir. Surprisingly, it's Juska's accounts of visiting the Berg collection at the New York Public Library, or the stories of her writing classes at a prison, that remain in mind, long after her personals game has faded. Old women looking for sex may not seem a hot topic, but there's something universal in this woman's love affair with the written word.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

"Before I turn 67--next March--I would like to have a lot of sex with a man I like. If you want to talk first, Trollope works for me." When Juska, a retired schoolteacher from Berkeley, placed this ad in the New York Review of Books, she was relatively happy with her life except that "it didn't have any touching in it." This thoroughly engaging memoir not only describes her attempt to find someone to touch, but also recounts the story of her life up to the point she placed the ad. "I am . . . a cliche," she laments, after describing her history of sexual abuse, repressed memory syndrome, weight and drug problems. The litany is familiar, to be sure, but there is nothing cliched about Juska's determination to reinvent herself. We learn of her sexual adventures and of the resulting emotional entanglements, but what is most amazing about this refreshingly honest, remarkably candid story isn't the senior sex but the courage shown by a round-heeled woman who decided it was time to pursue passion with a vengeance. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but surprisingly passionless Dec 26 2003
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
I'll agree with other reviewers that Jane Juska's brave both in her life and writing. Before writing her now-famous ad and embarking on a later life quest for nooky, she braved single parenthood and teamed up with the ACLU to file a suit against her school district. In her book she's open about her dark places: the crush on her analyst, her drinking, her childhood sexual abuse. I admire her, and the book was a pleasant read.
And yet...I felt that I only got glimpses of this vibrant woman. Juska's good at setting up her romantic disappointments -- the book overflows with sentences like "I didn't know then the sadness that would come." But when the crushing moments did come, they fell flat and left me unmoved. I wanted to feel her pain, her struggle, her joy -- but Juska's love of books got in the way. (This is coming from an avid reader and lit major -- I share her love.) She spends so much of the book stuck in her head and building a wall with her words that by the end I felt I really didn't know her at all.
I also finished the book feeling that there was something dark lurking underneath the surface of it all -- something that Juska, despite her talent for self-examination and disclosure, was unwilling to look at or reveal. Her son's troubles, the father fixation, the drinking...there's more going on here that she's not telling or doesn't know.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Courage July 5 2004
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Jane Juska's courage comes through in her beautifully written book. When she describes sitting in a movie theater, watching a romantic movie, and deciding that her romantic life isn't over yet, I knew I'd be cheering for her the whole way! She's a gutsy sixty-six year old lady. I kept thinking of it as a female counterpart to Philip Roth's The Dying Animal which is an insightful book about a senior man's perspective on lust.
And yes, she finds the proverbial Prince after she kisses a few frogs. Ahhh
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3.0 out of 5 stars Don't Wait Too Late July 14 2004
Format:Hardcover
"My Late-Life Adventures in Sex and Romance" is what the cover says but not too much of this book is devoted to adventures, this is really the author's life biography with long stretches dealing with her repressed upbringing, unhappy marriage, teaching career, relationship with son, and her volunteer activities at a prison. Except for the parts about the search for romantic liaisons, I found the book dull and sad, what a lonely life, it seems she only awakened in her sixties to all she'd missed out on.
As to her search for a man with an ad placed in the New York Times Review of Books, I found her experiences fascinating and admire her initiative. Probably not so encouraging for seniors seeking partners since she goes from disaster to disaster with men her own age and older and does not achieve real satisfaction until she meets a lover half her age. Could be an inspiration for the middle aged with the realization that passion and lust still burn in an old body, so don't wait till 67 like this woman did to start exploring that side of life.
Bet if it had been a 67 year old man with a 33 year old woman, there wouldn't have been half as much hesitation and self doubt.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Honest and sad April 12 2004
Format:Hardcover
Why 5 stars? Because it's an interesting, sad, honest book.
I have been re-reading A Round Heeled Woman and while I still think it is interesting and in many ways daring, I also believe that prospective readers shouldn't think of it as either titillating or sexually satisfying.
There is also the interesting idea of a woman who was sexually abused as a child, distant from her father, husband and alas son, seemed deep down to be crying out for revenge or her just deserts and instead of wanting sex and satisfying sex I wonder if she wasnt/isnt looking for good/great sex in all the wrong places.. and or ... simply wanting to be fully in control in some sloppy BDSM mode.
Nothing sadder to me than a woman who travels three thousand miles away to a strangers bed and when used as a trollop (a vulgar or disreputable woman; especially: one who engages in sex promiscuously)I even wonder if she ever thought about the Freudian slip when she used Anthony Trollope as her chosen author.
I know thankfully many women over the age of sixty who are sensual, sensual, sexually active and respected by the man/men in their lives. This is the one thing that seems to be missing in Ms. Juska's life.
I look at the men like Robert who allows her to stay in his small NYC apartment, who has some good sex with her, but who verbally cuts her down. Or Henry who is married with kids and has 'sex' in front of the TV so he can watch the game. What kind of a woman has sex with someone's husband without some honesty? I am not talking about open marriage or polyamory where ALL the partners are in on the game. And poor young Graham who may have liked having her as a sexual experience, but who doesn't want anyone knowing him in 'real life'.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I would give it 10 stars if I could! Oct. 25 2003
Format:Hardcover
Jane Juska deserves international recognition for writing so honestly and beautifully about the normally hushed up issues of single seniors' sexual desire -- with all its attendant anxieties about body image, performance, the how and where to connect with potential lovers, financial and emotional neediness, i.e., the business of all that 'baggage' accumulating over nearly 7 decades. Amidst today's rampant beautiful-body mania to 'fix' imperfections of dating hopefuls half her age and younger, this detailed account of an intelligent, cultured, late-60s not-so-trim woman's determined and successful campaign to get naked with the proper stranger was totally riveting. The backstory of her childhood repressions, long-ago unhappy marriage, turbulent relationship with her sole child, and reflections on the long asexual phase of her life are elegantly written, free of the bathos that frequently characterizes sensational tell-all memoirs. I thought frequently throughout this provocative book of the interesting gender issue it unwittingly raised: as a single guy about half a generation behind Jane, how much sympathy or empathy would I receive were I to publish my desire to have essentially zipless sex with women of all ages?
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Too much "woe is me"
This book has been on my pile for a number of years and finally read it. The premise of Jane Juska's book seemed promising - an older woman running an ad seeking sexual partners. Read more
Published on Dec 30 2011 by Kadi Kaljuste
3.0 out of 5 stars Not what I expected
First of all, only about 20% of the book deals with the author's "Late-life" adventures. The majority of the book deals with her earlier life. Read more
Published on May 28 2011 by Avid reader
4.0 out of 5 stars Older women and sex
Juska's book is enlightening and reassuring to a 65 year old woman who has had many sexual fantasies over many years and never travelled further than wishing for them. Read more
Published on May 21 2009 by Eliz. Kelly
5.0 out of 5 stars A Most Engaging Memoir-- Read On...
Jane Juska is a most engaging memoirist and human being. She is a retired high school English teacher from Berkeley, California who sings in a chorale, has successfully completed... Read more
Published on July 17 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars An eye-opener
Jane Juska writes frankly about taboo topics--not only about her own sex life as an older woman, but also about sex in other places where it is considered not to "belong," such as... Read more
Published on July 16 2004 by Sara M Moorman
2.0 out of 5 stars eh
The idea is good, my problem is with the narrator. Juska is SO pretentious I can't stand it. She only goes out with the most erudite of men, then is disapointed when they turn out... Read more
Published on June 18 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book that doesn't leave you feeling wonderful
This book stays with you when you're done. Months have passed since I read this, but I still miss Jane Juska. She's bright, witty, insightful, and honest. Read more
Published on June 4 2004 by Alfies_mom
5.0 out of 5 stars A perceptive tale of late life
This book rang true. It is funny, touching and perceptive. What an interesting woman. Her observations about people and places are so thoughtful. Read more
Published on April 4 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars A Most-Amazing Woman
I was awed by this book. Juska is out in front with an essential but scary truth: we want sex---even if we're old and baggy. Read more
Published on Feb. 24 2004
2.0 out of 5 stars Very Sad
Despite her feminist/liberal bleatings, Juska ends up sounding like a 14 year old girl pining away for true love. I ultimately found this book very sad. Read more
Published on Feb. 24 2004
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