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The Silent Passage Hardcover – May 5, 1992

ISBN-13: 978-0679413882 ISBN-10: 067941388X Edition: 1st
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

How are women of the baby-boomer generation handling the "M word," the change whose name they dare not speak? According to Sheehy's short report (expanded from her 1991 Vanity Fair article), many are utterly unprepared. The author ( Pathfinder ), who has been negotiating this passage herself, talks to doctors, nutritionists and a cross-section of women, examining both her own vacillation over estrogen replacement therapy and the more general questions of its side effects. We also hear from women who, having started families late in life, are catapulted from first babies to first hot flashes , and from such celebrities as Candice Bergen and Lesley Ann Warren. There are many frenetic and some encouraging menopause war stories here, but few accounts from women who experienced little difficulty during these years. Sheehy includes discussion of herbal remedies, exercise and dietary defenses against osteoporosis. While remaining somewhat inconclusive, her review of this stage of life for women in anti-aging America is detailed and sympathetic.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

When Sheehy, author of the classic Passages ( LJ 5/15/76) and The Man Who Changed the World: The Lives of Mikhail S. Gorbachev ( LJ 12/90), wrote about her personal experience with menopause in the October 1991 issue of Vanity Fair , the response from readers was overwhelming and compelled her to expand the article into this surprisingly slim book. Interviewing over 100 women in various stages of menopause and 75 experts, she examines the medical, psychological, and social aspects of this "silent passage." A biological change that spans five to seven years, this "second adulthood," according to Sheehy, has three stages: perimenopause, menopause, and coalescence. While Sheehy performs a valuable service in bringing this topic out into the open, her book is weakened by her cliched Cosmopolitan -style prose and New Age psychobabble. Still, with the older members of the Baby Boom generation entering menopause, there will be demand for this book. Readers seeking practical advice should consult Winnifred Cutler and Celso-Ramon Garcia's Menopause ( LJ 11/1/91). Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 12/91.
- Wilda Williams, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 161 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1st edition (May 5, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067941388X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679413882
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #403,463 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

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 46 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 3, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Having read "Silent Passage" I now realize that I have been in the perimenopausal stage for about two years. I knew my body was behaving differently and when I did mention the possibility of menopause to my doctor he told me I wasn't there yet. No mention was made of the perimenopausal stage. For the next year I tried to ignore what was happening and I was miserable. The symptoms got worse and just recently I reached for Sheehy's book and started reading. The information in this book is incredible, and I thank her for writing it. Not only did I learn that I've been perimenopausal for two years but I now have learned how to view the changes going on and how to intelligently handle them. Having the knowledge gives me back the control I felt that I lost. I can't stop what's happening to my body but I can work to get through the changes with humor - thanks to Gail. Her book also has provided me with more information on HRT than I've gotten anywhere else. If any woman is trying to decide whether to go on HRT she needs to read this book and learn the pros and cons. You'll learn when it is time to consider HRT. As I write this I'm trying to get across to the reader my overall sense of peace that I feel after having read Sheehy's book. We women need to know about menopause, talk about it, write about, read about it and not be afraid of it. Sheehy helps us to do that. I recommend this book to any woman who wants to know a lot about the stages of menopause. I would recommend that husbands also read this book. Sheehy teaches you what is happening, why it is happening and how to handle it. Her book also helps you to accept what you cannot change, courage to handle the changes, and the knowledge to make decisions.
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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Imperial Topaz on February 18, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Chapters are short and easy to read. This book deals not only with the technical aspects that most books do, but primarily with particular women's experiences with those various aspects--especially their feelings. This is what is left out of most of the other books. I recommend this book together with a more techinical book. But if you can only buy one book, buy this one instead. The main thing this book left me with was a feeling that instead of menopause being something that will just happen to me, there are a lot of things I can do, in a proactive sense, to manage the menopause. This is the most positive book I have seen on the subject, and helps me decide about all the questions to discuss with my doctor. Without reading this book, instead of being ready with a list of questions for my doctor, I would have passively listened to whatever he said, and thought that was it.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 14, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
As I read "The Silent Passage," I found myself nodding in agreement, or stopping in amazement. Sheehy presents solid information in a straight-forward manner, that neither patronizes nor editorializes. Her only advocacy is informed choice, and she stresses that options are always available. I urge all women to read this book. Even if you think you're past The Change, there is information and reassurance that is useful no matter what stage of life you're in. My younger sisters, and younger friends, are going to find copies of this book in their mailboxes as "just because" gifts. I won't wait for an occasion.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Lawyeraau HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 5, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book is an excellent overview of menopause but needs further updating in light of the current controversy over Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). The author is still all aglow over HRT, and it is heralded within the pages of this book as if it were the end all, be all for menopausal women. While this was the general prevailing medical view, it seems that further research has put its value in question somewhat, and HRT is now at the heart of some heated medical controversy.
Still, if the reader is aware already of this budding medical controversy over HRT, the book does offer some insights into menopause in an informative and fairly concise fashion. This should prove to be especially helpful to the hordes of baby boomer women who are entering this phase of their lives. The book also provides information into holistic, alternative ways of addressing some of the issues attendant in menopausal women. It appears that nature may provide some palliatives that some women may find preferable to the drug-infused approach of some medical practitioners.
Overall, this is an excellent, well-researched book and one that a lay person can read with ease. It provides interesting insights into the emotional, psychological, and medical concerns of peri-menopausal and menopausal women and discusses some of the remedies that are available, if necessary, to ease women through this major life passage. The book has clearly been a labor of love for the author, and she has endeavored, with success, to remove the mystery that has enshrouded menopause for so long.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 29, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
As the Baby Boomers reach menopause in record numbers, books on the subject have begun to proliferate as well. I've read many of them in the course of traversing this "passage" myself, and Sheehy's is by far the most levelheaded, sensible, and informative of the lot.
In the era in which we grew up, the normal processes of female life (such as childbirth), which had been successfully negotiated by our foremothers for centuries, had become "pathologized" into matters requiring a doctor's intervention -- if not hospitalization, surgery, or prolonged use of drugs. Now that women are reclaiming their own health, it's become far too easy for writers with a political agenda to capitalize on women's (understandable) anti-doctor sentiment and err in the opposite direction.
Sheehy, a thorough and down-to-earth person (as her other books show), has researched the subject of menopause in detail. While encouraging women to take responsibility for their own health, she avoids the extreme of insisting that "real women do it all NATURALLY without hormones." And, while she gives the medical establishment no quarter, she also makes it clear that their informed assistance can help a woman negotiate menopause with considerably less discomfort than we were led to believe was inevitable. I was impressed with the good sense she showed in the first edition, and am encouraged that she's updated the book with recent information. If you buy only one book on menopause, this is the one to get.
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