By Anna Quindlen
Random House, $26.00, 182 pages

Anna Quindlen has a terrific life.  A successful marriage and great career, self-sufficient and well-adjusted children, plentiful and supportive friends, and an affluent upper middle class lifestyle make the transition from middle-aged to older if not exactly saluted at least not entirely unwelcome. In this book of essays, the former New York Times columnist and best-selling author observes and considers among other things aging parents and unexpected changes in memory and physical appearance, the importance of girlfriends and faith,  and the quantity of material objects accumulated during the course of a comfortable existence. Unlike fellow writer Nora Ephron, who has also written on similar topics but with more self-deprecating humor, Quindlen approaches her subject with a sincerity and earnestness that is, at times, difficult to swallow. There are too many pat statements like “We understand ourselves, our lives, retrospectively” and “Progress is always relative” and, finally, “I want to be able to walk through the house of my own life until my life is done.” Although there are certainly readers who will appreciate, and perhaps even find inspiration in these superficial musings, I am not among them.

Reviewed by Linda Fredericksen