American Womanhood at the Gateway to Death by Gail Sheehy - review by Petronella Wyatt

Petronella Wyatt

American Womanhood at the Gateway to Death

American Womanhood at the Gateway to Death


HarperCollins 176pp £9.99 order from our bookshop

George sand had it in bed. Antonia Fraser was forty-nine when it happened. Gail Sheehy, a feature writer for Vanity Fair, was sitting in an armchair one evening when menopause hit her like time's winged chariot. Instead of lunging for a cold compress, Miss Sheehy reached for the archetypal American comforter, the word processor.

The Silent Passage: Menopause is the first full-length book on the non-subject since Germaine Greer's The Change. Sheehy estimates that over the next two decades, fifty million women in the United States and fifteen million in Britain will pass through menopause. Because of the resultant drop in hormone levels, these women will experience a flagging of energy and sexual desire. Ergo, menopause is a bad thing.

Bad it may be; it is also as boringly inevitable as old age and death. But what are old age and death to Sheehy? Paltry inconveniences to be swept aside by a wave of the carbon. In this spirited authoress we have a prophet who aspires not only to raise

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