two-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
21-Mar-Apr-2006
By: 
Gail Sheehy
user_rating: 
0

Pursuing the Passionate Life

A-SexAndTheSeasonedWomanKids, cover your ears! Gail Sheehy interviewed over 200 women (and a handful of men) over 45 about their sex lives and discovered that—gasp!—not only does desire persist for many women but they are also blasting through stereotypes of middle-age life. Freed from the constraints of family and emboldened by more liberal societal norms, Sheehy’s interview subjects talk about taking up yoga, online dating, and attending sex-toy parties as strategies to increase and maintain their libido. For those who haven’t yet freed their minds, Sheehy and her subjects offer guidance toward reaching this "Second Adulthood."
Random House. 368 Pages. $25.95. ISBN: 1400062632

Baltimore Sun 2.5 of 5 Stars
"Sheehy… has an earnest, empathetic but ultimately flat-footed approach to a vast subject that would demand subtlety from any self-appointed explorer." Clare McHugh

Ft. Worth Star-Telegram 2.5 of 5 Stars
"Sad to say, there are no good parts, in either the tawdry or the literary sense. There is a whole lot of Sheehy giving a gee-whiz spin to common knowledge—that women of a certain age still manage to have, and enjoy, sex. She presents it as big breaking news, and does it in a way that will bag beaucoup royalties from something that should be titled Getting Some After Menopause." Gaile Robinson

Rocky Mountain News 2.5 of 5 Stars
"The book doesn’t offer any earth-shattering revelations. Anyone who reads People or More magazines (geared at older women) or watches today’s sitcoms and movies (or even their divorced neighbors) surely must realize that these are not your grandma’s times or standards." Verna Noel Jones

Chicago Sun-Times 2 of 5 Stars
"Sheehy … fashions herself into a cheerleader for women from their late 40s on out. That’s not such a terrible thing. But if anyone buys this book looking for a senior version of The Joy of Sex, she’ll be deeply disappointed." Debra Bruno

Washington Post 2 of 5 Stars
"I think it’s fair to say that if menopause doesn’t ‘loom large in your legend,’ you can safely skip this book. … This book is cannily aimed at Aging Female Baby Boomers, and if you capitalize it enough, They will surely Come." Carolyn See

Critical Summary

Famous for her 1976 book Passages and her compelling portraits of political figures for Vanity Fair, Gail Sheehy sets out to take the temperature of the Baby Boom’s libido. Unfortunately, critics feel she has lost her grip on the zeitgeist. It seems that the author is the only one surprised that postmenopausal women are still having sex. The all-female cast of reviewers seems miffed that the book contains so little prurience on the part of Sheehy—further confirming her premise, if not her strategy. Maybe this is a useful book for those Sheehy classifies as WMDs (Women Married, Dammit) or LLs (Lowered Libidos), but the feeling is that most women have covered this turf already. Not that the critics are fooled; they begrudgingly admit that Sheehy will own the talk-show circuit for years to come on the back of this cunningly marketed book.