I suspect the editor sent me this book as a tease or a test. As the author's near-contemporary, would I admire her chutzpah, or be shocked by her no-holds-barred anatomisation of geriatric sex, or even follow her example with a lonely hearts advertisement of my own? Hers, sent to the New York Review of Books, went: '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.' It did the trick. Sixty-seven men replied; she met seven of them, had sex with five and told the whole story in a book which has turned her into a celebrity in America. It is a fresh, original take on a well-worn theme. Google turns up literally hundreds of websites about Hot Grannies or Sexy Seniors, and long before the World Wide Web there was the archetypal Mrs Robinson teaching a young dog new tricks, or Stephen Vizinczey's In Praise of Older Women, which seemed scandalous in 1965 because older women were supposed to be 'past it. Now Elizabeth Taylor and Joan Collins are role models for senior citizens, and social workers distribute impertinent leaflets giving us permission to go on being 'sexually active'.
It had been thirty years since Jane Juska had had any sexual adventures, and few seemed likely for someone whose pitiless self-portrait shows hair mostly white, with glints of what once was blond, brown, grey; face lined, eyes bifocalled, teeth not sparkling; as for the body, 'what once was firm