Germaine Greer's books include The Female Eunuch; The Obstacle Race; Sex and Destiny; The Madwoman's Underclothes; Daddy, We Hardly Knew You; The Change; and Slip-Shod Sibyls. She has had a distinguished career in academia, including as professor of English and comparative literary studies at Warwick University, England.
Greer ( The Female Eunuch , LJ 4/14/71; Daddy, We Hardly Knew You , LJ 1/90) turns the clear light of her ferocious intelligence on what she calls ``the undescribed experience,'' the female climacteric--menopause. She has read everything : medical treatises, herbaries, historical letters, the few literary works that treat this universal aspect of female experience. At last, she says, women get to decide: Whether they wish to spend the second half of their lives in a ghastly re-creation of culturally approved youth, or whether menopause ``marks the end of apologizing'' and the beginning of a search for deep joy for and in oneself. She notes that the pitifully small amount of research done does not yet indicate the real causes for menopausal distress such as hot flashes, nor does it untangle the symptoms of plain aging from the cessation of monthly periods. She decries the lack of role models for the aging woman but does find us a few: the courtesan Ninon de Lenclos, whose intelligence charmed male and female alike into her advanced age; Karen Blixen (Isak Dinesen), who wielded her old woman's power into lapidary prose; Jane Digby El Mezrab, who at 47 enchanted a sheik, who rode by her side for 30 more years. Not the least of models is Greer herself, whose fine and hard-edged voice makes life after the cessation of childbearing sound, if difficult and harrowing, also joyful and rich in reward. Far superior to Gail Sheehy's The Silent Passage ( LJ 4/1/92), this is highly recommended for all collections. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/1/92.-- GraceAnne A. DeCandido, ``School Library Journal''
Menopause, Greer believes, should be a time of stock-taking, of spiritual as well as physical change, when the middle-aged woman, rejecting the roles held out by patriarchal society, attains a mature serenity and power. In a wise, witty and inspiring book, she rebukes doctors, psychiatrists--and women themselves--who blame the aging female for her menopausal distress. Skeptical of hormone replacement therapy, which she views as a boon to the pharmaceutical industry, Greer asserts that the ``climacteric syndrome,'' marked by depression, fatigue and irritability, is treatable by holistic medicine. Tweaking ``hardy perennials'' like Joan Collins and Helen Gurley Brown who, in Greer's opinion, refuse to grow old gracefully, she urges women to devise their own private ways of marking the menopause and puts forth the Witch and the Crone of history and literature as role models. Greer dispels all manner of myths and misconceptions about menopause. 50,000 first printing; Literary Guild alternate. (Oct.)