Praise for The Middlepause by Marina Benjamin
"In The Middlepause Benjamin deftly and brilliantly examines the losses and unexpected gains she experienced in menopause. Menopause is a mind and body shift as monumental and universal as puberty, yet far less often discussed, especially in public, which is what makes Benjamin's work here so urgently necessary."Kate Tuttle, The Los Angeles Times
"Women do a lot of things to mark turning fifty. Go to a resort! Have a bang-up party! Far, far better: read The Middlepause." Jill Lepore, staff writer for The New Yorker and author of The Secret History of Wonder Woman
"Eloquent and intelligent . . . This is a measured and beautifully written critique of menopause and middle age that pre-, mid-, and postmenopausal women will find eminently relatable, and that those who love and care for them will likewise appreciate." Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Piercingly intelligent and bracingly honest." Barnes & Noble Review
"We are not supposed to beguile, we the middle-aged women. But with The Middlepause, Marina Benjamin does that: she beguiles and entrances with a lyrical, thoughtful, erudite, and always lucid exploration of the middle years of her life, and what they mean to her, and what middle-aged women mean to society." Rose George, author of Ninety Percent of Everything and The Big Necessity
"Intimate, open-hearted, clever and kind, this book is a companion which, by naming the shadow fears, finds the truer gold." Jay Griffiths, author of The Wild: An Elemental Journey
"While The Middlepause is indeed intellectual and cultivated, Benjamin also speaks directly to a sense of communal, lived experience. . . . She writes so perceptively about the familiar that she effortlessly freshens and elevates it." Isabel Berick, Financial Times
"I loved this candid and beautifully written 'wrinkles and all' meditation on the middle years." Caroline Sanderson, The Bookseller, "Editor's Choice"
"Benjamin takes the process of self-help thoughtfully. For starters, to recognise change, rather than deny it, is to begin to deal with it." Iain Finlayson, Saga Magazine
"For emotional honesty, look to a midlife memoir from Marina Benjamin." Tom Gatti, The New Statesman, "The books to look out for in 2016"
"This gentle but honest book should be standard reading for friends and loved-ones of women trying to make sense of this transitional stage in life." Sue Wright, The Malcontent
"Lucid and sophisticated. . . . The Middlepause is a restrained but wonderful guide to the convulsive changes of 50 and over. . . . This is a book that yields valuable insights on almost every page." Melissa Benn, The Guardian
"In The Middlepause, Marina Benjamin takes a candid look at what it means to be 50 today. . . . It's warm, wise and beautifully written." Good Housekeeping (UK)
"This book does not contain advice on diet, yoga, emollients or wardrobe makeovers. Marina Benjamin instead pursues an intellectual perspective of her journey to 50. . . . As a means of inducting younger women into the business of getting older, this is a welcome narrative." Deirdre Conroy, Irish Independent
"The Middlepause isn't some deluding self-help book that insists middle-age is a time of great growth for us all. It's an accurate and thoughtful assessment of the credit and debit sheet, and it remains emotionally genuine throughout. . . . This is a thoughtful, compassionate and wise book." Shiny New Books
Middle age makes the writer feel "ambushed and laid bare."Journalist and memoirist Benjamin (Last Days in Babylon: The History of a Family, the Story of a Nation, 2006, etc.) did not enter menopause gradually, but suddenly after a hysterectomy at the age of 48. The change in her body was immediate: her hair became dull, her skin sagged, her energy diminished; and these changes corresponded to a spiritual and mental flagging. In a memoir notable for its autumnal, rueful tone, the author chronicles her experiences as she approached, and then passed, the age of 50, beset by losses: "of vigor, organs, luster" and "an unquestioning faith in possibility." She disputes feminists who see "fifty as the new forty, and forty the new thirty." For her, 50 means she will be "over the hill. Ahead of me, just as I am able to take command of the view, the incline runs downward." Benjamin's perception of aging has been shaped by physical problems that not all women share—e.g., scoliosis led to a bulging disk in her vertebrae and chronically painful sciatica. She is exquisitely attuned to "an imperceptible dulling of sight or hearing, a barely noticeable decline in the number of neurons firing or in the strength of firing," an "ever-so-gradual slowing" and increasing fatigue. The author has a "knee-jerk distaste" for upbeat popular writings that hail the possibilities and opportunities of middle age. Age, she insists, is not "all in the mind" but unarguably embodied. She does not acknowledge, however, that bodies differ, and the difficulties—"this crisis, this onslaught of unwelcome change, this punch in the face"—that she has experienced may not afflict her contemporaries. For Benjamin, writing this book has been therapeutic: "Interrogating my anxieties, my grief, my sense of loss, my nostalgia, my hauntings, all of this has been a form of exorcism." A thoughtful, morose meditation on aging.