on October 21, 2013
This is the perfect gift for a woman turning 60! My friend sent it to me and I have enjoyed reading it over and over. Each page gave me a gem to tuck away and help me cope with depleting energy, saging body parts and loss of friends and family. She talks about the fact that as we age we are actually happier and more settled in our own skin. Her style is warm and conversational and I felt like she was speaking directly to me. If you are looking for the perfect gift for a loved and trusted friend pick up Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen
"But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience; the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things--" -- Titus 2:1-3 (NKJV)
In the past, I've enjoyed the encouragement in Ms. Anna Quindlen's writing. In this case, I was looking instead to gain understanding. Having seen a number of women undergo big psychological changes at around age sixty, I was interested in Ms. Quindlen's experiences and observations. I hoped that I might gain insights into some of what my sixtyish wife is thinking about. I was gratified to find that much illumination was provided. Thank you!
The book also contains (not surprisingly) some stylish writing, a treat regardless of why a reader chooses this book. Here's an example from page one:
"It's odd when I think of the arc of my life, from child to young woman to aging adult. First I was who I was. Then I didn't know who I was. Then I invented someone and became her. Then I began to like what I invented. And finally I was what I was again.
"It turned out I wasn't alone in that particular progression."
These seven sentences made this book a must-read for me.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that some of the themes touched on my life as well, such as her take on having "stuff." "The nicest thing you can say to me bout my home is that it's homey, and people say that all the time. I like it. And at a certain point, I can't say when, I realized I didn't really give a damn about any of it."
Her comments on marriage are especially insightful to husbands. She doesn't find men's non-female qualities nearly as annoying as I would have thought. She also finds things to like: "He holds a grudge against anyone who does me wrong. He may not remember our social schedule or the names of some of our kids' friends, but he never forgets who wrote the bad review of my last book. And woe betide that individual if they ever meet him at a cocktail party. I like that man. Actually, I love that man."
Having watched females enjoy being with each other for many decades, I naturally wondered if the nature and benefits of such company changed with age. Nope!
Her comments on the women's movement and the expectations she grew up with were helpful to me. I know that they are often on my wife's mind, as well.
If there's a disappointment about the book, it will be that much of the content isn't as revealing as it might be, or as comforting as it could be. Stylish writers are good at attracting our attention with one hand while stuffing a rabbit into a hat with the other. This problem could have only been overcome by editing out many of her observations . . . which would have left a slim volume being too thin to be satisfying.
If you are a dyed-in-the-wool Anna Quindlen fan, do read the book. But don't expect to be given as much optimism and comfort as usual.