The premise centres on 10 months in the life of Eliza: a 46-year-old business owner and mother, who suddenly finds herself on the brink of a major life change - the menopause. As well as trying to cope with the daily demands of her work and motherhood, Eliza now also has to contend with the effects of the onset of perimenopause: i.e. hot flashes, mood swings, forgetfulness and an array of other hellish symptoms that make Eliza conclude that her best years are rapidly coming to an end and her faithful ovaries are shrivelling up quicker than dried raisins.
Rather than welcoming what the Chinese term “a second spring”, Eliza is instead pitted against Mother Nature and left to the mercy of her temperamental hormones, which don’t always play fair. Indeed, with no handbook to guide her through this unchartered territory, she relies on advice from her errant, crazy friends who are also in the same boat, and her adored but outspoken older aunt whose solution to any disagreeable issues which may arise is to throw copious amounts of alcohol at them and suggests daily drinking to increase tolerance to unpleasantness.
Unarmed, dangerously emotional and highly irrational, will our heroine embrace this next stage of her life or will she be dragged kicking and screaming into her middle age? Does this finally mean she is a fully fledged grown up now? And if so, never mind is there life after 40, the real question is, is there life after menopause?
What an engaging, well written and wonderfully insightful book. The author has really captured a subject which is not really talked about in society: the effects which the menopause has both physically, mentally and emotionally on women and how often women in the past have suffered in silence, even though the myriad effects of “the change” can wreak such havoc on their psyches.
I think a lot of ladies will identify with Eliza as a character. Not only is she highly relatable, her situation is one which most women will undoubtedly and ultimately face in their own lives. The author, through her story, encapsulates a lot of themes: pressure on women, working mothers, the effects of being with a long-term partner, the challenges of aging and the impact of the menopause on women’s lives.
With a host of lively characters, this is a warm, witty and wise tale which is a joy to read. Eliza is the sort of person you would wish to have as a friend: she is so engaging and her escapades make for some genuine laugh-out-loud moments. Highly recommend. (LP)