By Mary Pipher – Bloomsbury Publishing, 2019
Mary Pipher is a cultural anthropologist and clinical psychologist whose academic focus has been developmental psychology and trauma. She lectures and writes about cultural and social themes around women, drawing on her roles as a mother, grandmother, daughter, sister, wife and caregiver. Her bestseller Reviving Ophelia (1994) focused on the complex lives of teenage girls. Women Rowing North takes on older women, with a focus on those 70 and older.
Pipher leaves few stones unturned as she helps readers navigate upstream in the “river” of aging to a place of authenticity and self-acceptance. She’s gentle but candid: adapt or fossilize. If it’s bliss you’re after, there’s work to do. She looks at ageism all around us but also from within. Weaving individual stories of four women throughout the book, she writes about managing grief and loneliness, while illustrating the ways adversity has made us able to take the hard knocks. Pipher encourages us to really get to know ourselves, to express anger when appropriate and to say no when it’s in our best interests—and not feel guilty about it. The bottom line is that women need to cultivate resilience to flourish in later life. This book embraces the journey in a way that is truly inspiring.