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Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake

by Anna Quindlen


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Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake

by Anna Quindlen

Reviewed July 9, 2012.
Random House, New York, 2012. 182 pages.
Starred Review

Anna Quindlen is just a few years older than me. So I love reading her musings on turning 50, on aging, on being the mother of young adults. Because she tells me what's to come. I feel for her, but I can tell myself that is still far in the future, but as I read, I begin to look forward to it.

Anna Quindlen wrote a "Life in the 30's" column when she was in her 30's. She wrote about everyday things, and people wrote back to her. In her foreword, "Life in the 50's" she talks about those letters:

"I feel like I'm not alone," some of those who wrote to me said, and that sentiment changed my life. That's what's so wonderful about reading, that books and poetry and essays make us feel as though we're connected, as though the thoughts and feelings we believe are singular and sometimes nutty are shared by others, that we are all more alike than different. It's the wonderful thing about writing, too. Sometimes I would think I was the only person alive concerned about some crazy cul-de-sac of human behavior. Then I would get the letters from readers and realize that that was not the case, that we were not alone, any of us.

I love Anna Quindlen's outlook on aging. She makes it sound so much fun! And she makes me so ready for it.

Many of us have come to a surprising conclusion about this moment in our lives. No, it's not that there are weird freckly spots on the back of our hands, although there are, or that construction guys don't make smutty comments as we pass, although they don't. It's that we've done a pretty good job of becoming ourselves, and that this is, in so many ways, the time of our lives. As Carly Simon once sang, "These are the good old days." Lots of candles, plenty of cake. I wouldn't be twenty-five again on a bet, or even forty. And when I say this to a group of women at lunch, everyone around the table nods. many of us find ourselves exhilarated, galvanized, at the very least older and wiser.

So take a ride along with Anna Quindlen, a superb essayist, as she explores thoughts about life, aging, growing, learning, being a friend, and living well.