Women of a Certain Age is a jewel studded book sparkling with wisdom history love memory secrets burgeoning identities and the wonder of women in this complex twenty first century. The amazing strength resilience optimism and courage of women is honoured by these astute humble and intelligent writers.
Their stories spring from varied backgrounds and different intensely personal events. The authors have experienced first-hand the abhorrent and misinformed attitudes to our indigenous Australians, sadly instead of opinions that celebrate the oldest living culture on earth.
The suffering of illness, the stigma of violence, the agony of sexual abuse, the freedom of forgiveness, the pain of ethnic ridicule, the injustice of racism, and society’s degradation of women as low ranking on the equality status are among the encounters the writers have borne.
Yet their life stories herald an era of women who have steadfastly sought empowerment, deliberately seeking to make sense of their pasts, graciously seizing precious moments of the present and cautiously optimistic about the future.
“I try and live my life in the best way I can, helping others when they need it, bringing the strength of my past into the present; being strong” explains Tracey Arnich as she ponders about ‘memories’ that shaped her.
The writers embrace age with a wary but realistic trepidation. They are arming themselves with the necessary prerequisites for productive, creative and regal old age.
“I’m old now. I like being old because things that used to be sharp and painful have become blurry and soft.” Goldie Goldbloom’s knowledge of truth is a focus for discerning principles within the details of her life.
These women reflect the generosity of spirit that is embedded in the essence of female nature. They have raged loved contributed discovered shared cried and endured the misery and torture of abuse and survived. These protagonists are genuine, vulnerable and truly believable
The strength and power of their prose, literary prowess and unique and eclectic styles makes this collection of life tales a landmark in Australian publishing in 2018. These women from all walks of life and ages like Goldie Goldbloom’s father teach us over and over again that “words are delicious.”
You want to savour the simplicity yet universal truths of their writings like Maria Scoda’s luminous pearl of wisdom. “The human condition can be complicated, but we’re not overly mysterious in our desire for love, peace and purpose in life.”
These stories from the hearts and minds of women resonate with the reader. The clarity of purpose, the value of hindsight and the honesty of revelations connects details of writer’s lives with reader’s experiences and perceptions.
Charlotte Roseby writes “The small wonders still live large, and CF taught me those are the best ones. When I giggle with my son, it’s heaven.”
Women of a Certain Age as collection of stories is triumphant, it sings, it doesn’t miss a beat with a symphony of life, repeating a motif of survival that witnesses and holds dearly the marvel and instinctive perception of women.
According to Anne Aly “I needed to do that to survive, avoiding an inevitable clash of cultures that threatened to implode my world. Anyone who has never had to negotiate two identities – often with conflicting expectations – cannot possibly understand just how adroit young women can be at slipping in and out of identities: princess, queen, slayer, diva, damsel.”
Individuality is preciously guarded by these authentic and honest women writers. The discerning sequencing of their stories forms a literary harmony that communicates insight. These tales of affirmation honour the extraordinary resilience and potency of acceptance of self.
“The notion of a stereotypical Pakistani woman, or indeed a typical Australian women, of any age, is alien to me.
My life’s journey continues to be unconfined by labels” articulates Mehreen Faruqi.
Like her, Jeanine Leane writes “I dream on – outside the box.”
These authors write from their cores painting honest pictures of who they are and they generously invite the reader to share in the intimacy of their characters, ideas, philosophies and knowledge. They map journeys of discovery and track circumspection by going back and forth between internalized principles and specific facts and events that have shaped who they are.
The insight embedded in the writing is eloquent, substantial and meaningful with an unpretentious undercurrent of guidance and judicious counsel. Sincere strength and verification is concurred in Maria Scodia’s astute, compassionate advocacy.
“If that confidence doesn’t develop in us, or is lost to us as children we have to find other ways to build faith in ourselves and learn healthy or sustainable ways to manage difficult times.”
Some of these fifteen stories explore relationships including the co-dependency within abusive relationships. Also the inequality that has existed and continues to pervade the work place where power is unscrupulously used as a weapon by men making sexual advances and bullying women like Jenny Smithson who has “throughout most of my working life … been a woman in a man’s world.”
Anne Aly has “learned not to focus so much on being different but to develop relationships based on commonalities” and Brigid Lowry tries “to be harmonious with her friends, even and especially when it proves difficult.”
These women writers come from diverse backgrounds and have pursued a variety of careers and achievements, sometimes changing directions or renewing former ambitions.
Sometimes the ambition is simply surviving to a certain age, relocating to other states, cities and countries or adopting the challenges of academia. The possibilities for women taking charge of their own destinies and realizing their potential is inspiringly composed in this uplifting compilation.
Jenny Smithson writes “I understood that sometimes what you do in life makes a difference that is not always evident to you at the time; and that loving what you do, and participating in shared endeavour, can lead to unexpected, if not always tangible, rewards.”
I’m sure this medley of stories so thoughtfully selected by Jodie Moffat with Maria Scoda and Susan Laura Sullivan will touch the hearts and minds of readers. They will enhance, affirm, enlighten, comfort and guide all readers making slight, singular or multiple differences to their lives.
When you open Women of a Certain Age you will find it is a treasure chest of courage, fairness, justice, prudence, love, generosity, vulnerability, truth, discernment, intelligence and wisdom, which shimmers and twinkles effervescently.
Rose Niland, Special Features Writer NSW, The Culture Concept Circle, 2018