In a society paradoxically obsessed with living longer and looking younger, what does middle age nowadays mean? If we are forever being asked to strive to turn back the clock, and also to expect it to tick on almost forever, while constantly checking our progress in the mirror, what then of the present? How should a fiftysomething be in a world ceaselessly redefining ageing, youth and experience? In this subtle but scintillating, unblinking but unfooled exploration of the meaning of middle age in the modern world, Marina Benjamin looks at the evolution over recent decades of our understanding of the purposes and perils of this time of life, and examines her own sudden, brutal propulsion into menopause and into a new definition of herself as daughter, mother, citizen and woman. She deals with pinnacles and pain, mortality and the marginal, loss and lingerie, memory and milestones.