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A Glorious Freedom: Older Women Leading Extraordinary Lives

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The glory of growing older is the freedom to be more truly ourselves—with age we gain the liberty to pursue bold new endeavors and worry less about what other people think. In this richly illustrated volume, bestselling author and artist Lisa Congdon explores the power of women over the age of forty who are thriving and living life on their own terms. Profiles, interviews, The glory of growing older is the freedom to be more truly ourselves—with age we gain the liberty to pursue bold new endeavors and worry less about what other people think. In this richly illustrated volume, bestselling author and artist Lisa Congdon explores the power of women over the age of forty who are thriving and living life on their own terms. Profiles, interviews, and essays from women—including Vera Wang, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Julia Child, Cheryl Strayed, and many more—who've found creative fulfillment and accomplished great things in the second half of their lives are lavishly illustrated and hand-lettered in Congdon's signature style. The perfect gift for women of all ages, A Glorious Freedom celebrates extraordinary lives and redefines what it means to gain wisdom and maturity.


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The glory of growing older is the freedom to be more truly ourselves—with age we gain the liberty to pursue bold new endeavors and worry less about what other people think. In this richly illustrated volume, bestselling author and artist Lisa Congdon explores the power of women over the age of forty who are thriving and living life on their own terms. Profiles, interviews, The glory of growing older is the freedom to be more truly ourselves—with age we gain the liberty to pursue bold new endeavors and worry less about what other people think. In this richly illustrated volume, bestselling author and artist Lisa Congdon explores the power of women over the age of forty who are thriving and living life on their own terms. Profiles, interviews, and essays from women—including Vera Wang, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Julia Child, Cheryl Strayed, and many more—who've found creative fulfillment and accomplished great things in the second half of their lives are lavishly illustrated and hand-lettered in Congdon's signature style. The perfect gift for women of all ages, A Glorious Freedom celebrates extraordinary lives and redefines what it means to gain wisdom and maturity.

30 review for A Glorious Freedom: Older Women Leading Extraordinary Lives

  1. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Lisa Congdon dedicates this to “all the late bloomers.” She herself didn’t take up drawing until age 31, and didn’t publish her first book until she was 44. This new work is a celebration of women’s attainments after age 40: second careers, late-life changes of course, and heartening achievements. It’s a lively mixture of interviews, first-person essays, inspirational quotes, and profiles of famous figures like Vera Wang, Laura Ingalls Wilder and Grandma Moses. The layout is varied, too, with th Lisa Congdon dedicates this to “all the late bloomers.” She herself didn’t take up drawing until age 31, and didn’t publish her first book until she was 44. This new work is a celebration of women’s attainments after age 40: second careers, late-life changes of course, and heartening achievements. It’s a lively mixture of interviews, first-person essays, inspirational quotes, and profiles of famous figures like Vera Wang, Laura Ingalls Wilder and Grandma Moses. The layout is varied, too, with the content sometimes in text blocks and sometimes in two columns, and Congdon’s whimsical drawings dotted throughout. Again and again, we hear from women who started pursuing their passions late because they didn’t know what they really wanted, didn’t believe in themselves, or thought they had to subordinate their desires to their family commitments. “It takes quite a long time to nourish whatever you want to do with your life,” ninety-five-year-old artist Ilona Royce Smithkin states. Often there is a misconception that art is not a proper career or that we should not seek to stand out. Many of Congdon’s subjects took up art/writing after a less fulfilling first career, or, like Cheryl Strayed, plugged away in relative obscurity before finding success in midlife. Nowadays, many people will face two decades or more of life after retirement, so another focus here is on “creative aging,” and especially keeping active. We meet women who have taken up surfing, marathons or triathlons after 40, and even a judo master who attained the highest possible rank at age 98. “Life is not over until you have your last breath, and youth does not define you,” collage artist Della Wells encourages. This beautifully produced book would make a perfect birthday or Christmas gift for any woman who’s feeling her age. It’s a valuable reminder that great things can be achieved at every stage of life and that, with the right attitude, we will only grow in confidence and courage over the years.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Taryn

    “There’s are no points in life when we need to give up things we love.” - Chrissy Loader, writer and filmmaker Youth is so valued in American culture that it can be easy to forget that there are benefits to aging too. A Glorious Freedom was compiled and illustrated by artist Lisa Congdon. It features interviews, essays, and profiles from extraordinary women over forty who found success during the second half of their lives. The benefit of experience has given these women the wisdom to know what t “There’s are no points in life when we need to give up things we love.” - Chrissy Loader, writer and filmmaker Youth is so valued in American culture that it can be easy to forget that there are benefits to aging too. A Glorious Freedom was compiled and illustrated by artist Lisa Congdon. It features interviews, essays, and profiles from extraordinary women over forty who found success during the second half of their lives. The benefit of experience has given these women the wisdom to know what they want and the confidence to go and get it. “The fear of getting older is about the false notion that one’s power was rooted in the things that youth offers us—namely, beauty. My advice would be to see that for the lie it always was. Our power is never about how pretty we are. Our power is about how we live our lives. Start living it.” - Cheryl Strayed, author of bestselling memoir Wild I’ll admit that at the second mention of "life coaches" I thought this book might not be for my demographic. But as I kept reading, I found relatable situations and wonderful advice. I haven't had children at this late point in my life, so I really appreciated the different approaches to family life: women who had their children when they were young, women who’ve had their children later in life, and those who decided not to have children at all. On that last point, one essay that really interested me was The Unexpected, Exhilarating Freedom of Being Single at 41 by Glynnis MacNicol. There are also stories of women who completely changed their careers, proving that it's never too late to pursue your dreams. One woman left her dentistry practice to become a writer at age 50, and another left her writing career to go to medical school at age 53! They talk about the pivotal moments that inspired them to alter their life's course and how they made it happen. “I think the biggest thing is not to compare yourself to your younger self. … You have to set new goals for yourself.” - Dara Torres, competitive swimmer and 12-time Olympic medalist One of the biggest inspirations to me was Betty Reid Soskin, who at 95-years-old is the oldest park ranger in the United States. In her interview, she speaks about the importance of staying active. She has been blogging about her experiences since 2003 (Why she started her blog). Many of the interviews and essays were from creatives, especially writers, so I enjoyed the profiles the most because there was a wider range of experiences: from Sister Madonna Buder, who at 82 years old become the oldest person to complete an Ironman triathlon, to Katherine Johnson (Hidden Figures), who against all odds became an indispensable member of NASA's manned space mission team at age 40. "The average life expectancy, especially for women, is between 80 and 90. I tell them, Some of you are 60, and what are you going to do for the next thirty years? Sit there and brood about what didn’t happen, or make it happen now?” - Zoe Ghahremani, author Middle age is not the end of the road—it’s just the beginning. As a woman in my mid-30s who’s starting to get a little nervous about what’s waiting for me around the corner, I found this book to be a source of comfort and inspiration. It made me see that some things that seem like flaws when you're young, such as invisibility or vulnerability, can become your greatest assets. This beautifully-illustrated book would make a great gift. I could see Oprah featuring it on one of her book lists! You can see Lisa Congdon’s artwork, including some illustrations from this book, at her website. I recommend checking out Chronicle Books catalog, because they publish a ton of unique, giftable books. ___________ I received this book for free from Netgalley and Chronicle Books. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. It will be available on October 3, 2017!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    This was a heartening read. Congdon profiles thirty-eight women who have achieved (or did achieve) great success late in life. This sort of thing is always cheering for those of us unquestionably in the second half of life with the message that anything is possible with the right mindset and ‘it’s not over till it’s over!’ A small ointment fly is Congdon’s definition of ‘old’ as over 40 (cough, splutter), which is a little galling for those of us quite a bit further along the road than that but This was a heartening read. Congdon profiles thirty-eight women who have achieved (or did achieve) great success late in life. This sort of thing is always cheering for those of us unquestionably in the second half of life with the message that anything is possible with the right mindset and ‘it’s not over till it’s over!’ A small ointment fly is Congdon’s definition of ‘old’ as over 40 (cough, splutter), which is a little galling for those of us quite a bit further along the road than that but perhaps that makes the book all the more relevant and, heaven knows, she includes plenty of women hitting their stride in their 70s or even their 80s. Inevitably, success falls into two camps: creative achievement and athletic achievement. The creatives include the likes of Laura Ingles Wilder, Julia Childs, Louise Bourgeois, Vera Wang and Cheryl Strayed. The athletes include several women running marathons or teaching black-belt judo into their 90s. I especially enjoyed the section about the late Katherine Johnson, an outstanding mathematician who was the only woman, and only African American, on the top-rung team at NASA from the 1960s (see excellent film, Hidden Figures). The strong message is that ‘oldness’ is, in large part, an attitude of mind even if the body is not as spritely as it once was. One of my favourite late-bloomer quotes (not in the book) came from French artist Louise Bourgeois who died in 2010 at the age of 99 and whose work only came to prominence in the last twenty years of her life. When asked what advice she would give to struggling, young artists, she replied, “Never forget that your career may take off when you’re 80.” Indeed. I would recommend this book as a pick-me-up to anyone (female or male) who is fighting ageism, especially when self-inflicted, or feels that their creative work is like wading through treacle, as it inevitably does from time to time. The book is also delightfully illustrated by Lisa Congdon and is sweet to the eye throughout.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Sandra The Old Woman in a Van

    I really wanted to like this book. I mean, what is not to like about women over 40 living extraordinary lives? I am almost 60 and I want some of that Kool-Ade too. But as I read the 38 biographies/interviews I realized this book did not deliver. Of the women profiled 22 were writers (many contemporary and so it felt like they were plugging their work), 12 performers/artists and 10 claim tt extraordinariness was through athletic accomplishment over 40. One profile was about a woman that stopped d I really wanted to like this book. I mean, what is not to like about women over 40 living extraordinary lives? I am almost 60 and I want some of that Kool-Ade too. But as I read the 38 biographies/interviews I realized this book did not deliver. Of the women profiled 22 were writers (many contemporary and so it felt like they were plugging their work), 12 performers/artists and 10 claim tt extraordinariness was through athletic accomplishment over 40. One profile was about a woman that stopped dying her hair (glad to know I am also extraordinary for that oh so difficult accomplishment!). Another is included because she found love at 40; likewise one woman is extraordinary because she had children over 40. (Some numbers add up funny because the woman fit greater than one category). From reading the bio's I concluded that ~ 25 were affluent to begin with. Almost all were white (2 Asians, 1 Hispanic, 1 Aboriginal, 1 Iranian and 3 African American). Of the AA's two were one page bios comparable to a 6th grade report. Only one was an actual interview of one of the only truly interesting women - one who became a National Park Ranger at age 85). And get this -- TWO had their future's foretold by a PALM READER! If reading scanty information about affluent white women who took up art, started writing or began an endurance sport later in life then you may like this book. I Bought the hard cover and can only regret all the coffee's I could have purhased with that money.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Katherine Baldwin

    This is a beautiful book but a lot of the stories are quite privileged, not so inspiring to someone in challenging circumstances with finances and health or suchlike.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    A glorious book celebrating women who had the audacity to continue in pursuit of their dreams guided by their curiosity and new sense of freedom!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Society is not kind to late bloomers, especially women, who tend to be valued for youth and beauty above deeds and accomplishments. I've never forgotten the hope I felt when I learned that Julia Child didn't even go to France until she was 37. The author, illustrator Lisa Congdon, didn't start painting until her 30s. It's never too late, and these profiles provide a welcome and much-needed celebration of that fact. Society is not kind to late bloomers, especially women, who tend to be valued for youth and beauty above deeds and accomplishments. I've never forgotten the hope I felt when I learned that Julia Child didn't even go to France until she was 37. The author, illustrator Lisa Congdon, didn't start painting until her 30s. It's never too late, and these profiles provide a welcome and much-needed celebration of that fact.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Gail Grow

    As a 70 year old dabbler in the arts this book made me alternately excited and depressed. Am I wasting my life if I don’t follow my muse with a vengeance? Or is living well(by my definition) the goal? Life is so short. I think I’d rather celebrate than strive.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Danielle

    "You already know what you have, you already know what to do, so speed it up, don't slow it down." Jennifer Hayden "Take the criticism that you need, discard the other criticism, and don't let the criticism define you. Don't let other people define you. You can define yourself." Della Wells "...it takes quite a long time to nourish whatever you want to do with your life." Ilona Royce Smithkin "You already know what you have, you already know what to do, so speed it up, don't slow it down." Jennifer Hayden "Take the criticism that you need, discard the other criticism, and don't let the criticism define you. Don't let other people define you. You can define yourself." Della Wells "...it takes quite a long time to nourish whatever you want to do with your life." Ilona Royce Smithkin

  10. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    i wanted to love this book, badly. this is a book i've been searching to read. it did not deliver. 38 women profiled. 25 of them were obviously affluent. I think less than 8 were not white? All of them had jobs in the arts or were athletes. Mostly, independently, well off white women. I wanted to hear about the every lady. What does the lady who is 55 and worked at Wal Mart in Kansas do? What does the lady who is 70 in Idaho do? I wanted to see more salt of the earth, i guess. I didn't really fe i wanted to love this book, badly. this is a book i've been searching to read. it did not deliver. 38 women profiled. 25 of them were obviously affluent. I think less than 8 were not white? All of them had jobs in the arts or were athletes. Mostly, independently, well off white women. I wanted to hear about the every lady. What does the lady who is 55 and worked at Wal Mart in Kansas do? What does the lady who is 70 in Idaho do? I wanted to see more salt of the earth, i guess. I didn't really feel connected to these stories. I want to know what happens to the women around me as we age. What happens to us?

  11. 4 out of 5

    Katie Hanrott

    I'm turning 40 next month and this was exactly what I needed to read. I'm turning 40 next month and this was exactly what I needed to read.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Natalie Marion

    Awesome, beautiful and inspiring book!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kris Springer

    Uplifting, charming--I met a lot of inspiring older women and want to get on with the 2nd half of my life. Dream big you awesome women you!

  14. 5 out of 5

    ML Rice

    This sums it up for me. Betty Reid Soskin is a national parks ranger at age 95. “I have lived my complete life in a total state of surprise. I’m still having first experiences.”

  15. 5 out of 5

    Story Circle Book Reviews

    Author, illustrator and fine artist Lisa Congdon has created a gorgeous book dedicated "to all the late bloomers." Her beautiful full-color illustrations accompany essays, profiles and interviews with women who have become bolder and happier as they age. The variety of writing forms makes the reading a pleasure. The women featured are over 40 and include artists, writers, athletes, scientists, activists, thinkers, designers and feminists. The title of the book, A Glorious Freedom, comes from Carol Author, illustrator and fine artist Lisa Congdon has created a gorgeous book dedicated "to all the late bloomers." Her beautiful full-color illustrations accompany essays, profiles and interviews with women who have become bolder and happier as they age. The variety of writing forms makes the reading a pleasure. The women featured are over 40 and include artists, writers, athletes, scientists, activists, thinkers, designers and feminists. The title of the book, A Glorious Freedom, comes from Caroline Paul, who wrote a memoir about being a San Francisco firefighter (Fighting Fire) and decided she wanted to be good at surfing at age 49. Her essay is "The Swell," accompanied by one of Congdon's whimsical illustrations of a woman in the water with a surfboard. In "True Roots," Ronnie Citron-Fink realizes she had colored her hair for more than twenty-five years. She had spent thousands of dollars and many hours attempting to have "natural-looking" hair. As an environmental writer she researched the chemicals in hair dyes. Approaching 60, she stopped coloring her hair and found the transition meant "facing a litany of truths and consequences—straddling the precipices of age, beauty, and health." Profiles accompanied by drawings of the subjects include Louise Bourgeois, who didn't garner the world's attention for her drawings, painting and evocative sculptures until she was 70 years old, and Sensei Keiko Fukuda who became the highest-ranked female judo master in the world at the age of 98. Sister Madonna Butler, at the age of 82, became the oldest person to complete an Ironman triathlon. She began running at age 48 with encouragement from a priest who saw the activity's benefits for mind, body and spirit. Angela Morley was born Walter Stott in 1924 in England. In 1972. At the age of 48, she had sex reassignment surgery and changed her name to Angela Morley. She created "some of the most memorable musical scores of the late-twentieth century television and was the first openly transgender woman to win an Emmy Award." She passed away in 2009. Anna Arnold Hedgeman is described as "a lifelong advocate for social change" and in 1954, was appointed to the New York City mayoral cabinet, becoming the first woman and also the first African American to hold the position. She died in 1990 in Harlem, New York. Among the interviews in the book is one with Llona Royce Smithkin who was 99 years old at the time, an impressionist painter and art teacher who made the famous paperback portrait of Ayn Rand. "And I painted Tennessee Williams, did you know?" she says in her interview. Designer Debbie Millman, in her interview, says she came out as a lesbian at age 50, at which time she "started to feel even more open to the possibilities of my life." The final interview in the book is with Betty Reid Soskin who is the oldest national park ranger in the United States, at age 95. She is stationed at the Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, California. Following a short film about Rosie the Riveter, Soskin continues the story "by adding a woman of color's history, which is my own." It's fascinating to read that Betty Reid Soskin is still having "first experiences" and wondering what she's going to be when she grows up. The spirits of all these women come through in their words and the images Lisa Congdon created of and about them. The book is one to be appreciated by women of all ages. There is an abundance of encouragement to follow one's passion. by Mary Ann Moore for Story Circle Book Reviews reviewing books by, for, and about women

  16. 5 out of 5

    Tracy D

    I absolutely LOVED the book. It is all about women who discovered something about themselves, or who wanted to break free, or do something they had always wanted to do, and how they pursued that. There are stories of women in their 40s-90s, and even into their early 100s that just kept living and learning and growing and becoming these incredible people they wanted to be--living their dreams in ways expected and unexpected. Some of these women completely changed career tracks, or started careers I absolutely LOVED the book. It is all about women who discovered something about themselves, or who wanted to break free, or do something they had always wanted to do, and how they pursued that. There are stories of women in their 40s-90s, and even into their early 100s that just kept living and learning and growing and becoming these incredible people they wanted to be--living their dreams in ways expected and unexpected. Some of these women completely changed career tracks, or started careers after not having one, overcame huge personal obstacles and setbacks, started new hobbies and skills, or just flat out did something totally new. There are women married, unmarried, divorced, remarried and widowed. There are women with children, without children, women who wanted children and women who did not. You will find women with varied upbringings, from different countries, cultures, ethnicities, races, different belief structures, different lives but all doing one thing that is the same-->they are seeking to continue becoming who they are meant to be, continuing along the path of self discovery and exploration, continuing in their personal development. In some of these stories their people were encouraging of these endeavors and came along their journey with them, in some of them, they did not. These are all unique, interesting lives, just like each one of us. You have a life's canvas--paint on it! You may not like every story. You may not relate to, or even like, every woman. You may think whatever it is that you will think about the women in the book, or the agenda of the writer...who knows? We all come at books with our own perspectives, opinions and baggage...but I will tell you this, I marked up my book with highlights and notes and thoughts and ideas something fierce, because it added to the fire that was already inside. This book inspired me, gave me new things to think about, new ideas to marinate upon, new dreams began to germinate... I have purchased multiple copies and gifted them to the wonderful women in my life who I thought might love it too. I talk about the book incessantly to anyone who will listen. My mother is 71 years old and I gave her a copy and she is going through it for the second time, talking about the new things she wants to pursue, and the old things she wants to pick back up. My sister just turned 40 and I gave her a copy, and she said that she loves the perspectives that are opening new thoughts and ideas for her, that she is loving the freedom that she is finding. We read this for a local women's book club that I belong to, and we talked about our "Big, Fat Dreams" and who we are and where we want to go, what we see ourselves doing, things that some of us had never really voiced before. Life is for living, for finding joy, accomplishment, for seeing color and light and beauty, it is for solving the problems that are most important to us, for making a difference in the world around us that we live in. This book showed so many different ways that some very normal, everyday, incredible women, decided to do this.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Devin

    A collection of short bios about and essays from living and deceased older women defying cultural expectations by being active in their own lives. The goal of the book is to encourage other older women to take their own risks and reach for their own goals. Since this premise of living throughout your life, despite your age, is already one that I have identified with before I didn’t get very much new insight from this book. If you’re looking for a feel good, easy to read and beautifully put toget A collection of short bios about and essays from living and deceased older women defying cultural expectations by being active in their own lives. The goal of the book is to encourage other older women to take their own risks and reach for their own goals. Since this premise of living throughout your life, despite your age, is already one that I have identified with before I didn’t get very much new insight from this book. If you’re looking for a feel good, easy to read and beautifully put together book on vibrant older women this is a good book for you. However I was hoping for a more nuanced portrait of the women. I feel particular political realities were glossed over or omitted. For instance, the overt sexism these women faced is mentioned only in passing. I would have liked to read more on how they feel sexism impacted/impacts their lives. Next, Laura Ingalls Wilder is a problematic older heroine because of her ties to white supremacy. In fact, her writing of the little house books was done explicitly to mythologize the white settler narrative. Including this information about Wilder would likely have disqualified her from this book. Finally, the book fits nicely into the dominant culture’s narrative of success. This book presents only conventionally successful older women. I think the book would have been improved by discussing how success can be defined in different ways. Doing so would have brought a more diverse group of women to these pages.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Hartfiel

    This is another book I started in 2018 and got about 10 pages in and somehow got distracted and never went back to it. But I think now, that maybe that was serendipitous because when I picked it back up again yesterday, it was like the universe knew that this was the book I needed to read right now. I've been a big fan of Lisa Congdon for years - since she started posting photos of her collections of things online and then of her art and then of her book on being a working artist and now this th This is another book I started in 2018 and got about 10 pages in and somehow got distracted and never went back to it. But I think now, that maybe that was serendipitous because when I picked it back up again yesterday, it was like the universe knew that this was the book I needed to read right now. I've been a big fan of Lisa Congdon for years - since she started posting photos of her collections of things online and then of her art and then of her book on being a working artist and now this this wonderful collection of essays, biographies and interviews of or with women on the other side of 40 who are living remarkable lives. Many of them only found their true calling after they turned 40. It's inspiring and shines light on a group that are often invisible. This lifted me up at a moment when I needed it and for the first time in a while, I felt like I was reading stories of people that I related to. A true gift of a book.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Darcysmom

    I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley for free in exchange for an honest review. A Glorious Freedom is aptly named. It is Glorious, Inspiring, and Eye-Opening! Sometimes a book finds you exactly when you need it. I needed this book. I needed to read about women reaching for their dreams and exceeding them as they enter their 40s, 50s, 60s, and beyond. The women profiled in this book are diverse and each one has a story worth reading. I especially love that the profiles included women who I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley for free in exchange for an honest review. A Glorious Freedom is aptly named. It is Glorious, Inspiring, and Eye-Opening! Sometimes a book finds you exactly when you need it. I needed this book. I needed to read about women reaching for their dreams and exceeding them as they enter their 40s, 50s, 60s, and beyond. The women profiled in this book are diverse and each one has a story worth reading. I especially love that the profiles included women who are not famous - we all need the reminder that our lives can be extraordinary without beciming a household name. I loved A Glorious Freedom and cannot recommend it highly enough.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Liz Sawyer

    A book of simple, short snapshots of women over 40 who are killing it in all different ways, most of whom started what they are known for well after the magic 4-0. A great nightstand linger to pick up here & there. A fabulous book for a household of young women who maybe want a discussion prompt or little reminders that “success” is defined by yourself and is never a final destination but rather a journey. A great gift for any friend dreaming of her next act and needing the courage to leap.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kandice

    If you are an older woman and feel like the future holds no new possibilities then this book is for you. Stories in this book cover women in their 40’s all the way to women in their 100’s. If this book doesn’t inspire you to keep following your dreams and living your life then I don’t know what will. Read the book then take a chance. You will be glad you did!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Rhonda Lomazow

    A gorgeous book a collection of grown women over forty still adventurous creative brave living life to its fullest.A book that should be shared woman to woman.So much to discuss enjoy strive for .In every sense a beautiful book,

  23. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne Gibbs

    Happy to have purchased and read this book. Not a deep read, but I did have more pleasant dreams on the nights that I read it at bedtime. I also think I will find myself referring back to the essays when I need a lift.

  24. 5 out of 5

    KC

    A lovely collection of stories, interviews, and antidotes of extraordinary women!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ann Douglas

    A beautifully illustrated book that celebrates the achievements of older women. Think "gift book" as opposed to sociological text. A beautifully illustrated book that celebrates the achievements of older women. Think "gift book" as opposed to sociological text.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Katrina

    I heard about this book through a coworker who periodically has extended conversations on her desk phone about how she plans to go back to school and transition into a different career path. Since I am a nosy eavesdropper, I looked up the title of the book she mentioned as one of her inspirations. I love the concept: sharing inspirational stories about women who achieved great things later in life - past the point when women's lives are considered "over" by traditional society, especially if they I heard about this book through a coworker who periodically has extended conversations on her desk phone about how she plans to go back to school and transition into a different career path. Since I am a nosy eavesdropper, I looked up the title of the book she mentioned as one of her inspirations. I love the concept: sharing inspirational stories about women who achieved great things later in life - past the point when women's lives are considered "over" by traditional society, especially if they're not centering their lives around their family and children. The execution is unfortunately iffy. A lot of the stories are very privileged. Yes, if I came from a wealthy family or a decades-long career at the absolute top of my industry, I could also take a year off to travel the world or live off my savings for the rest of my life while dipping my toes into surfing or painting or yoga or writing a blog or whatever else half of these women are being celebrated for. I don't see how that's an achievement, and it's certainly more about having had success early enough in life to indulge in dreams in later decades. That's the opposite message from the one I'd been expecting (hoping) to find in these pages. Other stories, though, are much more in line with what I was looking for. Had I taken better notes while reading, rather than lying on my couch with a hot water bottle across my lower abdomen because I haven't hit that particular stage of my womanly life just yet, I would stick a series of quotes here that made me stop and murmur in agreement. Here's one passage, though, that I pulled out for a friend who's in my age range - not quite 40 yet, but old enough to be wondering what we're doing with our lives, if we should know and have a plan by now, and if it's already a bit too late to be getting started: "Women, meanwhile, are taught that their value lies in their use to other people: their husbands, their children, or, barring these, society at large. (For so long, implicit in the choice not to have children has been the sense that women are obligated to justify this decision by articulating how they will then devote their lives to otherwise making the world a better place.)" This is absolutely a struggle I have. This book focuses on 40+ because that's generally the cutoff for women's childbearing years, and thus for their traditional value to society. Once you can no longer produce a child from your body, who are you as a woman? Fortunately, this is never a struggle I've gone through; I do not envy the women who desperately want children in their lives and panic as their biological clocks tick away. (There's one story about a woman who had both a biological child and an adopted child in her 40s - not relevant for me, but still an interesting and worthwhile read.) But the rest of that paragraph still resonated with me. Because while I don't appear to have been born with a maternal bone in my body, there is still a drive to make a mark on the world, to leave something behind so people will remember me. To make a difference so my life has meaning and a purpose and some sort of value. A lot of people achieve this through children (which I think may be why a lot of children grow up to resent their parents and the burdens placed on their shoulders). Back when I was still in my early 20s, one of my friends had just gone through another rough breakup and told me that if she didn't settle down with a guy in a few more years, she'd adopt just so she wasn't so alone. I thought at the time (and still think now, a decade and a half later) that it was both a weirdly selfish and fully understandable reason to want a child. Books are my children; like children, there's no guarantee that they'll love or care for me in my old age, but I can't help pouring everything I have into them, because I was born wanting this in my life. And as I move into my late 30s, it gets more discouraging to hear all these stories about people who had their big breaks "later in life" - by which they usually mean late 20s or early 30s. It's really not that inspiring anymore. What about the people who take longer? What happens with them? Is it still possible? There are some of those stories in this collection, including the example everyone knows, Grandma Moses. There are others that I found equally comforting, because maybe it's not all about leaving a mark on society or the world. Maybe just living - being yourself, as happy and genuine as you can - is worthwhile, too. Maybe you don't have to be "successful" as a mother or in a career for your life to hold value. And one path may not define you, or may not hold true for your entire life. A lot of the stories include divorce after 40 as a transition, as women discovered that being married wasn't the end of their journeys and that they weren't happy and weren't being true to themselves. It's something that's often seen as selfish and privileged in its own way - one of the women dropped her young children with her husband and went off to find herself - and perhaps that's true, but would it be seen in the same way if it was a man's story? I wish there was more to this book. I'd like to dig into more of these questions and toss aside the self-important stories from people who think that being a yogini and a vegetarian is something wildly innovative (seriously, why were some of these people chosen??? you had space for 38 and these are the women you profiled?). I'm also not really sold on Lisa Congdon herself, whose art isn't terribly polished or unique, and who is listed as the author, despite having done very little of the work herself. Many of the entries are essays by the featured women, and in the acknowledgments at the close of the book, Congdon says that her sister wrote several of the profiles - yet isn't credited as an author? Instead of Congdon's illustrations, I would've liked to have seen photos of the women being featured, or in many cases, of their artwork. If you're including a woman who made exceptional pottery, or who invented a new art form, your readers are likely to want to see that incredible work. Not Congdon's drawing of a lemon meringue pie. Strange choices. Fascinating concept, though, and one step towards figuring out what life can be for a woman heading towards 40.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Torina

    I enjoyed reading this book. It was quick and easy and happy. However, I had to knock off points because there is an extreme lack of diversity. Almost everyone was white and there was not one person with a disability. Also, the focus was centered on careers, except for one story about hair dye and maybe one about love or kids or something. There is a lot more to life than work, whether you love your work or not.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I bought this book by one of my favorite artists, Lisa Congdon. I really enjoyed the short stories of how women suceeded in life later in what most would call "middle age". I am currently in my own struggle to find my "next" role and as I try to find a new job and define what I'm passionate about. It was nice to be inspired by other women and to enjoy the beautiful artwork in this book. I'm happy I can re-read it in the future. I bought this book by one of my favorite artists, Lisa Congdon. I really enjoyed the short stories of how women suceeded in life later in what most would call "middle age". I am currently in my own struggle to find my "next" role and as I try to find a new job and define what I'm passionate about. It was nice to be inspired by other women and to enjoy the beautiful artwork in this book. I'm happy I can re-read it in the future.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Emma Farley

    I can remember turning 25, admittedly a few years ago now, and being shocked to find that I was no longer classed as a young creative – that label is for the 18-24 bracket. But what if you’re in your 30s, 40s or 50s and still haven’t found your life’s calling or true passion? What if you’ve gone from job to job, trying to make ends meet, raising your children, with no time to explore your creativity? A Glorious Freedom by Lisa Congdon is a stunning collection of profiles, interviews and essays by I can remember turning 25, admittedly a few years ago now, and being shocked to find that I was no longer classed as a young creative – that label is for the 18-24 bracket. But what if you’re in your 30s, 40s or 50s and still haven’t found your life’s calling or true passion? What if you’ve gone from job to job, trying to make ends meet, raising your children, with no time to explore your creativity? A Glorious Freedom by Lisa Congdon is a stunning collection of profiles, interviews and essays by older women who know what it’s like to grow old gracefully, graciously and to stick their middle finger up to society’s norms and stereotypes while they’re at it. Can we just take a minute to appreciate how freaking gorgeous the cover is? And the contents are so beautifully illustrated and designed. It’s definitely a book to savour. A Glorious Freedom features so many inspiring stories, including women who found their passion late in life, embracing being single in your forties, going au natural and even a woman who became the highest ranked female judo master in the world at 98! When you’re a kid your parents tell you that you can be whatever you want to be but as you get older you become a bit more realistic – you take less chances and settle cos girl gotta pay dem bills. But A Glorious Freedom is a much-needed reminder that, actually, you can do anything. You’ve just gotta have a bit of patience, determination and a whole load of passion. This is definitely a book I’ll be sharing with friends and family and it makes a great Christmas gift, encouraging bad-ass women to start the new year with some fantastic goals. If this is what it means to grow older, to feel confident, empowered and give less fucks, then bring it on! I was sent a copy of this book for review purposes but all thoughts are my own. This review first appeared on A Cornish Geek on 24 October 2017. https://acornishgeek.com/2017/10/24/a...

  30. 4 out of 5

    Deborah Davis

    Some fabulous excerpts of lives well lived. Not certain how people were chosen. Mistakenly thought it was about creatives but it was good to read anyway.

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