Healthy Reading: Part Two – Sex and the Seasoned Woman by Gail Sheehy

Healthy Reading- Part Two

The Cryptoquote in the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Nov. 4th puzzle page had this quote by Sir Francis Bacon that seems perfect for this posting, especially the last phrase:

Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.

Gail Sheehy’s Sex and the Seasoned Woman is the perfect book for our “Second Adulthood” that Sheehy discusses at length is this wonderful journey for the second half of our lives. With the focus mostly on women she interviewed, Sheehy combines her research skills and interview skills to provide us with both enjoyable and educational information on living passionately after 50. In fact, the subtitle reads, Pursuing the Passionate Life, and by this the author goes beyond sexual passion and includes passion for pursuing (delayed) dreams.

The titles of the six parts of the book will give you clues to the wide canvas on which we can paint the second half of life: And Now What? The Romantic Renaissance, Learning to be Alone with Your New Self, The Boldness to Dream, Soul Seeking, Graduating to Grand Love. Because the author herself has lived through many of the topics, when she interviews older men and women, there is a resonance that I can feel in her words. (You may first want to read Sheehjy’s autobiography, Daring My Passages, William Morrow, 2014 to see what I mean. As a divorcee with a young child, she carved out a writing career and was single for many years. She remarried her mentor and went on to take care of him before he died from cancer. She is definitely a seasoned woman.)

This book is so packed with relevant information for women over 50 that I have a difficult time being neutral in this review because much of what she writes about affects me directly and sounds like what I have experienced. I kept thinking, “Maybe I’m not so crazy, after all to think that I could restart my passion for writing and remarrying at the age of 65.” Gail Sheehy’s book makes me feel that I am right on target with many of the women in her book.

Here a few quotes that I hope will give you a better understanding of how valuable Ms. Sheehy’s work is:

“Today’s women in their mid-forties, fifties, and sixties are at the peak of their lives.”

“The great transition in the passage to Second Adulthood for Women is to move from pleasing to mastery.”

“The increased life span alone, of course, does not promise a rich Second Adulthood. The added years are merely a blank slate; it’s what we write on them that makes a difference.” (p. 20)

I highly recommend your reading this book if you have doubts about your choices n the second half of your life. The author’s ideas, concepts, and conclusions all seem to make sense. And because there is a wide range of responses from the women (and men) she interviews, you are able to see how many choices we really do have after 50.

One article I read some time ago but still remember the first line— “Fifty is only a warm-up” seems to be Gail Sheehy’s mantra, because Sex and the Seasoned Woman will help you make choices about what you want to do after the warm-up. What I learned is that the playing field of life is wide open if you open your eyes and heart to life’s possibilities.

As Anais Nin said, “We don’t see things as they are—we see them as we are.” Sheehy helps us see ourselves in a different light, so that we can see our world after 50 in a more positive way than we thought possible. Sheehy also invites you to join the conversation on the Seasoned Women’s Network at

This 355-page book is published by Random House and costs $25.95.

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