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The Seasons of a Woman's Life

New or Used: $25.00
New or Used: $25.00

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About the Author

Daniel J. Levinson, a psychologist, was one of the founders of the field of positive adult development. Levinson's two most prominent publications were his series of books entitled, The Seasons of a Man's Life and The Seasons of a Woman's Life. Although controversy surrounds his publications, both books remain promising and highly influential within the field of psychology. Levinson died in 1994 shortly after finishing The Seasons of a Woman's Life which was then published in 1996.


Levinson's earlier work, The Seasons of a Man's Life (LJ 4/1/78), is a classic of adult development studies. It also has had a profound popular impact as the basis for Gail Sheehy's Passages (LJ 5/15/76), a reworking of Levinson's research. The current book is something of a disappointment. The main thesis‘that the 45 women interviewed, like the men in the earlier book, went through alternating periods of tumultuous "structure building" followed by relatively stable "maintenance" periods‘is not well supported by the extensive quotations from the women themselves. Instead, they seem to be constantly in the process of defining themselves and their needs and attempting to carve out space for self-expression in lives filled with heavy demands from work and family life. This is not as important a book as The Seasons of a Man's Life but much more thoughtful than Passages. (Sheehy's latest, New Passages, LJ 8/95, concerns the years beyond 50, which Levinson does not cover.) This title, flawed as it is, is recommended for most academic and public libraries since it has few competitors in an area of interest to many patrons.‘Mary Ann Hughes, Neill P.L., Pullman, Wash.

In his popular Seasons of a Man's Life (1978), Yale psychology professor Levinson (who died in 1994) postulated that adult men undergo a series of distinct developmental phases separated by calm periods. This sequel, a collaboration with his wife, focuses on women's psychosocial growth from the late teens to middle age (around age 45). It builds on interviews conducted in the early 1980s with 45 subjects-15 New Haven-area homemakers, 15 N.Y.C. corporate-financial career women and 15 academics in the New York-Boston corridor. Not surprisingly, the homemakers found traditional patterns difficult to sustain and often paid a big price in restrictions on self-development; career women experienced considerable stress and difficulty in breaking down barriers in formerly ``male'' occupations and in pushing for a more equitable division of housework. In contrast to the earlier book, this sequel's plodding, academic style and narrower focus may deter some readers, yet the outspoken oral testimonies convey a sense of women negotiating the challenges of career, love, marriage and family. 30,000 first printing. (Jan.)

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