Pipher entered the national psychological/literary stage with 1994's Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls, which addressed how teen girls, deluged with images of beauty and sexuality and societal demands, fall into depression, eating disorders, and low self-esteem. Now, after several other books, the renowned psychologist turns to the subject of older women to help navigate the muddy and turbulent waters of aging. Her message is uplifting and calming: now is the time of authenticity, gratitude, and adapting—to anything. Pipher's skill of listening to clients and parsing meaning is evident in this volume filled with stories of women in the throes of change. She advises altering ways of thinking and behaving as we age, as we are no longer just older versions of our younger selves. But hers is not a one-solution-fits-all, as she urges readers to make a difference and take it easy, to know boundaries and offer wisdom, to understand what to accept and what demands our flexibility. VERDICT Pipher's tribute to older women everywhere—those skilled, knowledgable, and very wise—is simple: get involved, sit back, enjoy your life, be grateful, cherish every day. You've earned your happiness. [See "Editors' Fall Picks," LJ 8/18.]—Linda Beck, Indian Valley P.L., Telford, PA
Pipher (The Green Boat), best known for challenging the cultural perspective on teenage girls in 1994’s bestselling Reviving Ophelia, brings her professional skill as a cultural anthropologist and her personal experience as a woman transitioning from middle age to old age to a work chock-full of wisdom and consoling messages. Attentive to varying experiences of class, race, gender, health, and marital status, even as she considers the deep “challenges of aging, including ageism and lookism, caregiving, loss, and loneliness,” Pipher offers practical, specific advice. This includes walking readers through “deep breathing and centering exercises,” grandparenting “intentionally,” and dealing with end-of-life care. She pays particular attention to the importance of finding community, warning against the trap of becoming isolated, and rattling off a multitude of suggestions—readers could join a book group, “learn to kayak” (per the title), or “volunteer to teach English to refugees.” While a must-read for its target audience of women moving into old age, Pipher’s engaging book is an ought-to-read for their daughters and sons as well, as it sets forth the universal message that “happiness is a choice and a set of skills.” Agent: Susan Lee Cohen, Riverside Literary Agency. (Jan.)
An enlightening look at how women can age joyfully.” People
“Both practical and inspiring.” New York Times "Inside the List"
“[Pipher's] 'quest for joy and happiness' is sincere, as is her commitment to helping other women achieve theirs. Some readers will treasure the book. All readers will admire her unadorned but wise summation that answered prayers are 'a surcease of worry.'” Washington Post
“Full of first-hand anecdotes, the hopeful book doesn't shield the reader from the realities of aging, but rather delivers thoughtful insight and guidance to help women get more out of their lives and to be happier. This mental makeover is a necessity when you consider our senior population, especially women, is growing faster than you can say 70 is new 60.” Postmedia
“Pipher offers warm, empathetic guidelines for navigating aging and for recognizing its unexpected gifts.” BookPage
“A wisdom-filled guide . . . Pipher's mindful tips act as a map to joy and remind us that we can flourish through all of our years” Woman's World
“This is bound to become the bible of baby boomer women.” Editors' Picks, Library Journal
“Women of all ages will find much to reflect on, and respond to, in this collection of lives lived and lost.” NPR, Best Books of the Year
“Think of Women Rowing North as a GPS for navigating your later years. And while Pipher, 71, says she wrote it specifically for women crossing from middle age to old age, there is much in the book that is useful for any of us.” Considerable
“A work chock-full of wisdom and consoling messages . . . While a must-read for its target audience of women moving into old age, Pipher's engaging book is an ought-to-read for their daughters and sons as well, as it sets forth the universal message that 'happiness is a choice and a set of skills.'” Starred Review, Publishers Weekly
“Uplifting and calming . . . Pipher's skill of listening to clients and parsing meaning is evident in this volume filled with stories of women in the throes of change.” Starred Review, Library Journal
“An encouraging, comforting and very welcome message about the strength and joy that can come with age.” AARP, The Season's Big Books
“Explores the stereotypes and challenges of getting older and the survival skills women need to be happy.” Wall Street Journal
“This positive, affirming book will inspire and guide women facing these challenges.” Booklist
“Thoughtful, wise, and profoundly transformative, Women Rowing North tells the stories that make us feel accompanied and hopeful as well as providing models and muses for all the challenges and joys of this later stage of life. Pipher inspires us to take on this most important role, one that is most needed in these challenging times of division and rancor: that of wise elders joining together and welcoming all into the beloved community she has labored to create. This is truly a one-of-a-kind book, one that I've been waiting for.” Julia Alvarez, author of HOW THE GARCIA GIRLS LOST THEIR ACCENTS and ONCE UPON A QUINCEANERA: COMING OF AGE IN THE USA
“In Women Rowing North Mary Pipher offers an illuminating, much-needed template for moving through advancing years with gratitude and gracenot through denial or rejection of what's broken and lost but by opening our hearts fully to everything our life delivers. This is a book to treasure, to keep by the bedside to remind us that, contrary to shopworn stereotypes, joy and wonder don't have a time-stamp.” Barbara Graham, NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author of EYE OF MY HEART
“If I needed one book to guide me through the perils to the delights of aging, it is Mary Pipher's Women Rowing North. It sets the direction, shows the dangers, and brings the reader safely through to joy. I feel gratitude, not only for life, but for this wonderful book.” Jane Isay, author of UNCONDITIONAL LOVE: A GUIDE TO NAVIGATING THE JOYS AND CHALLENGES OF BEING A GRANDPARENT TODAY
“Simultaneously honest and calming, Women Rowing North is like an extended therapy session for millions of women who are strong and resourceful, but need to be reminded of that. This book examines head-on the losses and crises we all fear, cohering into a profound and comforting guide to living deftly and deeply well into old age.” Meg Cox, author of THE BOOK OF NEW FAMILY TRADITIONS
“I love this book. Don't stop with a once-through reading. I myself keep it at hand to dip into for a quick shot of Mary Pipher's matter-of-fact wisdom, humor, and instinct for the essential. It never fails.” Joanna Macy, author of COMING BACK TO LIFE: UPDATED GUIDE TO THE WORK THAT RECONNECTS
“Eye-opening . . . heart-wrenching and uplifting.” San Francisco Chronicle on THE SHELTER OF EACH OTHER
“An important book . . . Pipher shines high-beam headlights on the world of teenage girls.” Los Angeles Times on REVIVING OPHELIA
“A generous book conceived and executed by a compassionate . . . mind.” Starred review, Publisher's Weekly on SEEKING PEACE
“Serious and thoughtful material presented with the fluidity of good fiction.” Kirkus Reviews on REVIVING OPHELIA
“A must-read for all of us who care about young women in our lives . . . Reviving Ophelia arms us with information we can use in helping our daughters grow to adulthood with their strength intact.” Lincoln Star Journal on REVIVING OPHELIA
“A canny mix of optimism and practicality.” Newsweek on THE SHELTER OF EACH OTHER
“An absorbing chronicle of discovery.” Booklist on SEEKING PEACE
“A field guide to old age, combining personal stories with social theory.” The Boston Globe on ANOTHER COUNTRY
A distinguished clinical psychologist and bestselling author examines the personal and social issues that aging women face in modern American society.
For women in transition between late-middle and old age, life becomes more difficult. Loss, especially through death, becomes the new norm as women see their bodies and minds devalued by society. To help women navigate these late-life "turns in the river," Pipher (The Green Boat: Reviving Ourselves in our Capsized Culture, 2013, etc.) offers practical wisdom based on interviews, research, and her own experiences as a therapist and aging woman. In the first section, the author highlights "the challenges of the journey," which she illustrates with real-life anecdotes. As Pipher writes, TV, "movies, fashion, and advertising rarely reflect the needs and circumstances of older women." Women who formerly felt attractive experience a "crisis of confidence," and many women find their bodies becoming more limited due to illness or age. In the second section, Pipher focuses on "travel skills" women need to manage this part of the journey. The ability to accommodate change is key, as is creating a community of individuals with whom to communicate and deflect the isolation that too often comes with age. Reframing "situations in positive ways, being thankful, and giving to others" are also skills that can help ease the journey forward. In the third section, the author emphasizes the importance of relationships. Female friendships, in particular, can bring comfort and pleasure, and for those whose marriages have survived into old age, partners and families can become safe havens. But the most important relationship an aging woman has will always be with herself. As Pipher notes in the final section, one of the greatest gifts of old age is the loss of "false selves" carried earlier in the journey and the emergence of a whole and authentic self. Eloquently compassionate and sure to appeal to late-life women, Pipher's book draws from a deep well of insight that is both refreshing and spiritually aware.
Thoughtful, wise, and humane.