THE MIDDLEPAUSE, ON TURNING 50
(Scribe | Catapult)
Finalist for the Arts Foundtion’s Creative Non-fiction Prize
In a society obsessed with living longer and looking younger what does middle age nowadays mean? How should a fifty-something be in a world ceaselessly redefining ageing, youth and experience?
The Middlepause asks such questions, and offers unexpected answers. Spurred by my own brutal propulsion into menopause, I report from my sickbed, weighing the losses, joys and opportunities of the middle years. Tossing aside the self-help literature, I take inspiration from literature and philosophy; uncover the secret misogynistic history of HRT; explain why a dose of Jung might be better than a trip to the gym, and why Erik Erickson’s ideas about generativity offer the middle-aged options for mapping out meaningful new paths through life. Attending to ageing parents, the shock of bereavement, the in and outs of bringing up a teenager and my own health woes, I seek out new definitions of being a daughter, mother, citizen and woman.
An early draft of one of the book’s chapter’s, was published in Aeon as ‘My Daughter, Myself’
The Middlepause was published in Swedish and Norwegian in 2018, Danish and Korean in 2019, and German in 2020.
‘Women do a lot of things to mark turning fifty. Go to a resort! Have a bang-up party! Far, far better: read The Middlepause.’
— Jill Lepore, staff writer for The New Yorker and author of The Secret History of Wonder Woman
‘We are not supposed to beguile, we the middle-aged women. But with The Middlepause, Marina Benjamin does that: she beguiles and entrances with a lyrical, thoughtful, erudite, and always lucid exploration of the middle years of her life, and what they mean to her, and what middle-aged women mean to society.’
— Rose George, author of Ninety Percent of Everything and The Big Necessity
‘This tender and thoughtful book calls for an “invisible revolution” in our attitudes to women’s ageing. In a deeply personal meditation Benjamin places body knowledge and luck alongside grieving and family history; intimate reflection with literary exemplar: communion with ghosts sadly close to the painful real. The Middlepause is a wise, lucid and beautiful plea for more candid discussion of the time-wrought transformations of the female body.’
— Gail Jones, author of A Guide to Berlin
‘Intimate, open-hearted, clever and kind, this book is a companion which, by naming the shadow fears, find the truer gold.’
— Jay Griffiths, author of Wild and Tristimania
‘Beautifully written and so thoughtful, The Middlepause made me think about fleeting time and what is important to me. I couldn’t put it down.’
— Amy Jenkins, author of Honeymoon and creator of This Life
An abridged extract of the book appeared in The Telegraph Weekend.
Another abridged extract was published in The New Zealand Herald.
There’s an extract on the secret history of HRT (accessed by subscription) in Good Reading Magazine.
Isabel Berwick in The Financial Times
Sue Wright in The Malcontent
Valerie Grove in The Evening Standard
Melissa Benn in The Guardian
Anne Sebba in The Jewish Chronicle
Jane Shilling in Prospect Magazine
Erica Wagner in The New Statesman
Deidre Conroy in The Sunday Independent
Editor’s Choice in The Reader’s Digest
Pick of the Week in The Sydney Morning Herald
Blog review in Shiny New Books
Viv Groskop in The Sunday Telegraph