Summary and book reviews of Revenge Of The Middle-Aged Woman by Elizabeth Buchan

Revenge Of The Middle-Aged Woman

By Elizabeth Buchan

Revenge Of The Middle-Aged Woman
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  • Hardcover: Feb 2003,
    368 pages.
    Paperback: Jan 2004,
    352 pages.

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Book Summary

For twenty-five years, Rose Lloyd has juggled marriage, motherhood, and career with remarkable success. It has been a life of family picnics, books and wine, a cherished house, and her own exquisitely designed garden—sunny and comfortable. But then the carefully managed life to which Rose has become accustomed comes crashing down around her when—over the course of a few days—her marriage and her career both fall apart.

Can Rose, whose anguish is barely softened by the ministrations of friends and grown children with their own problems, ever start over? Not easily. But it's amazing what prolonged reflection, the slimming effect of a lost appetite, a new slant on independence (and a little Parisian lingerie) will do. Especially when an old flame suddenly reappears.

Full of humor, clever insight, and a whimsical sense of the absurd, Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman is an irresistible and finely written fantasy for anyone who ever wondered what a certain age would look like from beyond the looking-glass - and who will find it ripe with promise that the best days are yet to come.

Revenge Of The Middle-Aged Woman

'Here,' said Minty, my deputy, with one of her breathy laughs, 'the review has just come in. It's hilariously vindictive.' She pushed towards me a book entitled A Thousand Olive Trees by Hal Thorne with the review tucked into it.

For some reason, I picked up the book. Normally I avoided anything to do with Hal but I did not think it mattered this once. I was settled, busy, different, and I had made my choice a long time ago.

When we first discussed my working on the books' pages, Nathan argued that, if I ever achieved my ambition to become the books editor, I would end up hating books. Familiarity bred contempt. But I said that Mark Twain had got it better when he said that familiarity breeds not so much contempt but children, and wasn't Nathan's comment a reflection on his own feelings about his own job? Nathan replied, 'Nonsense, have I ever been happier?' and 'You wait and see'. (The latter was said with one of his lovely, strong-...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. Do you think the young Rose should have stayed with Hal or did she make the right decision to marry Nathan?How would you describe Minty's relationship with Rose? Were there definite indicators something was amiss that Rose might have noticed sooner?

  2. Do you think that Rose was complacent in her marriage and career? What have you learned from her journey toward self-exploration?

  3. What do you think of Minty? Did she really want Rose's life all along and just pretended to be independent or do you think something changed her?

  4. Rose sought friendship and solace with friends to help her through the depression. Are there other ways she might have helped herself? What would you have done?

  5. The novel was written from a wife's point of ...
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Revenge of The Middle-Aged Woman turned out to be far better than I expected it to be based on the jacket blurb and title, which led me to believe that this would be another tired story of mid-life crisis and extra-marital affairs culminating in a vindictive revenge in which the husband gets humiliated and everything ends happily ever after.

On the contrary, Buchan's book is literary proof that it is possible to take a tired old storyline and create a charming, poignant, believable tale replete with life's wisdom, and happily bereft of cliches or cute and tidy endings.

Recommended reading for the majority of women (and if they could be persuaded to read it, it would probably hit a nerve with many a middle-aged man), especially those who enjoy writers such as Elizabeth Berg and Christina Schwarz.  

Media Reviews
Minneapolis Star Tribune

The revenge of an abandoned spouse is a dish best served in the company of her or his long-lost love. And in fairy tales (or novels such as Elizabeth Buchan's Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman) that's exactly what happens.

USA Today

This ‘Middle-Aged' woman's revenge is delightfully dishy. The 'revenge' in the title has little to do with getting back at people. Rather, Buchan celebrates the patience and wisdom that only age brings. While middle-aged women will relish the novel, it's a cautionary tale for husbands with eyes glued to the pertly twitching buttox of that office minx. Beware. Better that aging first bride than the girlish tendril you seduced. She just might start craving what you thought you had escaped.

Rocky Mountain News

an eye-catcher of the first degree—even if most of those eyes are starting to disappear into the folds of their faces.... I raced through [the book] like a woman two weeks late for her hair-color appointment...[it] is a guilty pleasure.

Denver Post

It is a nicely written piece of chick lit that ends up being thought-provoking in its restraint.... This is a novel that is about a three-dimensional woman, not a stereotype, and she's a character that grows on the reader while she grows into a new stage of her life.

People (Page-turner of the Week)

Middle-aged or not, readers will find this book funny and sad, serious and light. Bottom line Get REVENGE.

Publishers Weekly

Living wisely is the best revenge for a London book review editor who loses both husband and job to her conniving assistant in this sophisticated and satisfying novel.

Library Journal

A best seller in England that's slated for the post-Bridget Jones crowd.

Kirkus Reviews

A wry and elegant tale about a woman of a certain age fighting back and winning unexpected victories.

Booklist - Carrie Bissey

[Buchan's] latest sensitive, satisfying tale is a most untraditional exploration of the landscapes of love and grief that refrains from shortcuts and cliches.

The Times, London

Wise, melancholy, funny and sophisticated.


A gorgeously well-written tale funny, sad, sophisticated.

Author Blurb Joanna Trollope
An excellent story…strong, imaginative power…wonderful atmosphere

Reader Reviews

Age 22 - I was a little disappointed by the anticlimactic ending to this book and the spelling errors. The character development was pretty good though.


Very engaging as an entertaining, empathetic diversion, this wee little novel was frothy and satisfying all at once. Certainly, it's a plot line we've come to expect - though the characters are richer and deeper than your generic chick-lit offering. ...   Read More


Very enjoyable! There was great depth to the characters - which is nice to see for a change. The author did a wonderful job showing everyone's point of view. There was growth and change and a believable 'happy' ending.

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