It’s interesting to me how “women of a certain age” are becoming younger every year. How does that happen? And when the “middle-aged woman” of the title turns out to be your own age, you start to wonder…
The question Rose Lloyd faces is one that practically defines humanity: how does one start over in the face of loss? Over the course of her life, Rose has faced every kind of loss—the death of a beloved father and the imminent demise of her mother; the growing up and away of her own children; and a traumatic parting of the ways with the man she thought her soulmate. Now, the ultimate loss: her identity as a wife and a professional woman. Her husband leaves her for another woman, and the publisher of the newspaper where she edits the book section decides he wants a younger, fresher product to capture younger, fresher subscribers. Those betrayals are concocted by the same person, Minty, the young assistant she groomed and with whom she traded confidences.
And with the divorce settlement, she faces the loss of the house she has lovingly neglected, the garden she has painstakingly cultivated and the health insurance she’s relied on to care for her mother. In short, after every major prop in her life is stripped away she continues to lose the smaller ones that enabled her to build a comfortable life. Rightfully, she wonders if something else she has taken for granted will disappear and leave her completely vulnerable.
Another woman (or another author) might plot some delicious strike that would discredit Rose’s husband, humiliate his young lover, publicly expose the newspaper as a fraud teetering on financial ruin. Rose doesn’t even consider this. Instead, she begins rebuilding in the small ways that demonstrate the core strength of her character. As she reflects on and remembers her life, the reader comes to understand that only through her pain and previous losses has she developed the strength to start over.
There are no simple solutions in this story. Rose rightfully accepts that she contributed to the plateau her marital relationship had reached. Their easy partnership belied the growth her husband felt she was missing in him, but the price of that growth is painful to see in him. Minty (and what a perfect name for a seemingly callow young woman) is not a two-dimensional homewrecker. Rose watches as her children make their own relationship mistakes, but will neither rescue them nor chastise them; they have to grow up on their own. And the steps Rose begins to take offer no guarantees, but the sensation of being forced out of a role she had taken for granted offers its own kind of happiness.
Elizabeth Buchan has perfectly captured each of the characters, making them individuals whose joys and conflicts play out in the story. A couple of subplots also place Rose and her family in a three-dimensional world where actions have consequences that ripple in unexpected ways. Those qualities may be fleshed out in the sequel to Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman, Wives Behaving Badly, so readers interested in post-chick lit might want to check that out as well.
Check the WRL catalogue for Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman