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Thoughts From a Queen- Sized Bed
by Mimi Schwartz
(University of Nebraska Press)

This collection of essays will resonate with any woman over fifty. Schwartz writes with honesty, humor, and clear vision about her life and the kinds of crises and choices that many of us have shared. Her strength and good humor are a delight.

The child of immigrants fleeing from Nazi Germany, she recounts her childhood and adolescence with amused hindsight and a fondness that will be easily recognized by many of us. Her family stories are classics: aunts and cousins and mother and father, all are limned with respect and love and often with rollicking fun.

Most vivid is the portrait of her 40-year marriage to Stu, her high school sweetheart. Married young and a mother soon after, Schwartz writes with clarity about her attempts to create a storybook marriage beset by reality. She is honest about temptations, boring lulls, and angry moments, but she also manages to convey the depth of commitment and love that have pulled them through.

Like many of us, her consciousness was raised by the feminist movement in the late '60's and early '70's. Schwartz enrolled in college and stuck with her studies so successfully that eventually she navigated both undergraduate and graduate schools, and became a professor of writing at Richard Stockton College in New Jersey. The new career entailed a commute of 72 miles, and considerable effort by her husband and two children to keep the home running smoothly. She is happy to give them credit, but she also writes of enjoying the drive, speeding alone in the dark at the wheel of her beloved red Honda.

Schwartz writes movingly about the double blows of discovering her own breast cancer and undergoing a mastectomy at virtually the same time that Stu experiences a heart attack. The tale of their difficulties and the shared determination of their recoveries is woven throughout the book. Theirs is a remarkable record of will power and support as they dance lightly around each other's fears and angers.

The universal emotions touched on in this book make it accessible and heartening to all readers. One does not have to be Jewish to be touched by Schwartz's description of a Passover dinner soon after her illness; one does not have to be a parent to share her joy and pride in her children, or a grandmother to recognize the eager anticipation of her first grandchild.

Thoughts From a Queen- Sized Bed can be read whole at a sitting or dipped into for a few short minutes and picked up later without having to back-read to catch up on plot. Each essay stands alone, but strung together they give us a vivid picture of the person who is Mimi Schwartz. She is someone whom this reviewer, at least, would be happy to know.

Julia Sneden

Excerpt>>> Changing Lanes

 

©2002 Julia Sneden for SeniorWomenWeb
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