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About the book
  • Published: 15 January 2012
  • ISBN: 9780099506157
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 256
  • RRP: $29.99

The Stranger in the Mirror

A Memoir of Middle Age




A Diana Athill for the middle years …

'I looked in the mirror one morning, and saw the face of a stranger. Who was she, this haggard, bun-faced woman with the softening jawline, the downturned mouth, the world-weary air of a woman who hasn't had what she wanted from life, and knows she isn't going to get it now? Why, it was no one else but me, myself and I.'

Middle age took Jane Shilling by surprise. She hadn't seen it coming, and she certainly wasn't ready for it. Living a flawed, bittersweet version of the idyll she dreamed of in her twenties, in a tumbledown urban cottage by the Thames, with a son, a cat and a horse in a livery fifty miles away, she wondered whether middle age was the beginning of the end. Or was there one last great adventure to be had? The Stranger in the Mirror is one woman's attempt to understand what middle age means for her and whether, as a new generation of women turns fifty, a revolution is under way. It definitely won't reverse the signs of ageing – but it will make you laugh, it will make you think and it could just make you look in the mirror in a slightly different way...

  • Pub date: 15 January 2012
  • ISBN: 9780099506157
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 256
  • RRP: $29.99

About the Author

Jane Shilling

Jane Shilling writes on books for the Daily Telegraph, Sunday Telegraph and Daily Mail, and on television for the Evening Standard. Her first book was The Fox in the Cupboard, a critically acclaimed memoir about her mid-life love affair with fox-hunting. Her second book was The Stranger in the Mirror: A Memoir of Middle Age. She lives in Greenwich with her son.


Praise for The Stranger in the Mirror

“Shilling's thoughts on love and ageing are so wise and so memorably expressed that they would grace a literary novel... Shilling's mild obsession with control and with the delicate, the exquisite and the theatrically miniature almost makes her into a latter day Jane Austen”

New Statesman

“I loved this book so much I gulped it down in just two sittings... Jane Shilling is a peerlessly elegant and evocative writer”

Libby Purves, Mail on Sunday

“Shilling is a gorgeous writer and there are chunks of this book that I would happily steal... If this woman wrote a novel I would buy it in a heartbeat... Shilling puts the ageing process under the microscope and, as we read, we squirm”

Jenny Eclair, Observer

“Jane Shilling is an outstandingly good writer...she also has emotional and intellectual courage”

Spectator

“Wry, quietly fuming and often moving memoir of a midlife cri de couer... exceptionally companionable, occasionally bejewelled and richly sustaining broth of a book”

Sunday Telegraph

“Shilling's style, dashingly cavalier and artfully artless, bubbles with wit and brio”

Independent

“Imagine Montaigne as a thoroughly modern unmarried mother and freelance journalist living in south London... Everywhere there is detail, and nuance, and care about others, and about words”

Guardian

“Shilling is brave and endearingly frank”

Scotsman

“An intelligent discursion on what it means to be a no-longer-youthful female in a world obsessed with staying young ... Her thoughts are refreshing, provocative and a pleasure to read”

Metro

“Jane Shilling is an excellent writer...this is detailed, personal and memorable”

William Leith, Evening Standard

“The essay form, with its drifts and lurches, suits Shilling's purposes perfectly as she catalogues her experience of middle-ages confusion and loss... all with detail, nuance, enthusiasm and care”

Ian Sansom, Guardian

“The usual stereotypes about grumpy old women are jettisoned in favour of ironic and nuanced observations about sexuality, identity and death in this crisply written memoir about middle age”

Benjamin Evans, Daily Telegraph

“An honest midlife memoir of ageing, false expectations and unrealised dreams”

Michael Binyon, The Times

“Detailed, personable and memorable”

William Leith, Scotsman

“Her story may not be unusual, but the elegance and range of her writing most certainly is. The journey is a delight”

Daily Telegraph

“Fans of this beautifully crafted, critically acclaimed memoir of middle-age might well take the view that it should be distributed free on the NHS to all women over 50... a penetrating analysis of the challenges and heartaches of life's middle phase”

Katherine Whitbourn, Daily Mail

“Shilling casts a self-critical eye over the events that have shaped her life”

Emma Hagestadt, Independent


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