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Sex and the Seasoned Woman: Pursuing the Passionate Life Paperback – January 30, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Sheehy, a self-described seasoned woman, set off in search of others like herself. Her premise? There's "a new universe of lusty, liberated women, some married and some not, who are unwilling to settle for the stereotypical roles of middle age." Aside from the question whether the 200-odd women she contacts constitute a representative universe, her claim is hardly revelatory. Older women (especially Europeans) have known from time immemorial that age has nothing to do with desire and an urge to live passionately. What makes a difference these days is the opportunities afforded by online dating sites. Short on research, Sheehy, best known for Passages, makes do by stringing together colorful stories of the women she interviews, drawing inflated conclusions from their lives and claiming it all as part of yet another passage (will it ever end?) to Second Adulthood, with phases like "the Romantic Passage" and "Soul Seeking." The book's most chilling bit of information: you really do lose it if you don't use it. But take heart, ladies; Sheehy provides the name of a doctor who employs a nonsurgical method of rejuvenating the vagina, making it just as pink and open as it was when you were... that's right, young. (On sale Jan. 10)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Bookmarks Magazine

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.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (January 30, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812972740
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812972740
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #284,031 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Gail Sheehy is the world-renowned author of seventeen books, most notably the New York Times best-seller Passages, named one of the ten most influential books by the Library of Congress and which has been translated into twenty-eight languages.

Her latest book, DARING: My Passages, is a memoir available now for preorder; September 2014 from HarperCollins.

As a literary journalist, Sheehy was one of the original contributors to New York magazine. A contributing editor to Vanity Fair since 1984, she won the Washington Journalism Review Award for Best Magazine Writer in America for her in-depth character portraits of national and international leaders.

Sheehy is a seven-time recipient of the New York Newswomen's Club Front Page Award for distinguished journalism. Among her other bestsellers are Sex and the Seasoned Woman; Hillary's Choice; New Passages; Understanding Men's Passages; and Passages in Caregiving.

A popular lecturer, she is represented by American Program Bureau (617-614-1607).

She currently resides in New York City.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

77 of 85 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on January 17, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
First off the author NEVER says this is a book for every woman. But it is a book for a select group of women who believe that sex is a right and that just because one ages, doesn't mean they aren't sexual.

One review notes that 'Young men don't want older women. That is a fallacy,' which itself is a fallacy. He may speak for himself but he doesnt speak for ALL men.But the author never says 'all' anything. And yes some younger men do like and love women who are older and the author is careful to give excellent examples.

And I especially appreciated her Chapter 15 Sex and the Seasoned Marriage. I was married for thirty eight years to a great man and loved reading page 175 where she lists her four pillars of what seem to hold up long and solid marriages. This is part of what I liked about the book. Same with her Chapter 23 titled Love Tested by Fire, since my husband was hit by a drunk driver and later died.

The author also seems to grasp the European mindset when it comes to love, sex, passion and that we are all different with different needs and wants, and that total honesty with oneself is where one needs to start if they have any chance at a successful union with someone else.

Sure there are some things I disagreed with in reading the book, but I cannot think of any author whom I have agreed with totally. But I do believe that for the educated, well traveled woman or the woman who wants to make some positive changes in her life after age fifty, that the book can be useful as well as fun.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Caroline Chamales on February 5, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I loved this book. It seems to me the book is really about it's subtitle ... Pursuing the Passionate Life. This is not a book about sex ... it's a book about possibilities. Through her own observations and the stories of others, Gail Sheehy encourages women of all ages to take a risk ... to pursue a dream ... to live life fully. I found it very inspiring and a thorougly enjoyable read. Gail Sheehy has been described as a cultural observer. As a woman in my sixties, I like to think she's identified a revolution among older women who recognize the incredible opportunities they have in what Sheehy describes as their second adulthood. Read this book and be inspired!
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34 of 40 people found the following review helpful By O. Merce Brown HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 18, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase

Gail Sheehy's newest book "Sex and the Seasoned Woman" is truly a must-read for all women over 45. It covers sex and aging for those women who wish to live passionate lives. It is not for those women who are content to live their lives slogging on, simply surviving from day to day. It is for those of us who want more.

One of the great revelations of this book (for me) is that sex can continue well into the mature years. The author discusses approaches (including medical and scientific) women can now avail themselves of to keep themselves healthy and capable of sexual activity.

One thing I didn't realize is that "use it or lose it" applies to vaginal health. If you do not repeatedly ensure blood flow to the vagina, it will atrophy, and thus be less capable of functioning...the book goes into this in detail (which I won't do here). But I think that this is something every woman should study.

Certain women may have reservations about buying this book, thinking it to be a book about promiscuity. It is not. It covers faithful marital sex---all types of sex---so that it will apply to you no matter what your lifestyle. However, the one constant is that in order to enjoy it, you will need to want to be vital, sensual, alive, passionate, and active in order to find this book interesting.

The book covers the different passages women go through in their pre-50's, and each decade thereafter until they pass 100. It covers sex in the Bible Belt, including the phenomenon of Passion Parties in the small rural towns of the south---apparently there are women in all sociological groups who wish to have good sexual relationships with their mates.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By J. K. McHale on February 20, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Sheehy has validated what my life has been, is now, and I hope will always be. Bravo to her for her support of all the marvelous, creative, vibrant women who continue to embrace life no matter what their age. This book speaks to the awakening of one's inner spirit which enhances every aspect of our lives--- intellectually, emotionally, physically and spiritually. Sheehy also support's David Schnarch's (Passionate Marriage) statement: The best sex comes with cellulite. Once again, the men and women who led the movements for civil and women's rights, have paved the way for succeeding generations, this time giving them permission to break free of the prejudice of agism.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful By George Bush HALL OF FAME on January 20, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Sheehy provides an interesting summary of a number of women aged 50-or-so who have decided to either stop being stymied by loveless/abusive marriages, or to stop/avoid becoming spinsters. Pleasing themselves, pushed by a sense of mortality, becomes the focus. As a result, they meet other men, often discover oral sex, and experience a steady stream of orgasms that replace the barrenness of before.

Often these women connect with younger men, though usually only for a period of months - regardless, the women find the experience permanently enhances their self-esteem and is liberating.

Certainly beats growing old without the pleasures of the flesh!
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