Middle age took Jane Shilling by surprise. She hadn't seen it coming, and she certainly wasn't ready for it. Living a flawed, bittersweet version of the idyll she dreamed of in her twenties, in a tumbledown urban cottage by the Thames, with a son, a cat and a horse in a livery fifty miles away, she wondered whether middle age was the beginning of the end. Or was there one last great adventure to be had?
The Stranger in the Mirror is one woman's attempt to understand what middle age means for her and whether, as a new generation of women turns fifty, a revolution is under way. It definitely won't reverse the signs of ageing - but it will make you laugh, it will make you think and it could just make you look in the mirror in a slightly different way...
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Shilling's thoughts on love and ageing are so wise and so memorably expressed that they would grace a literary novel... Shilling's mild obsession with control and with the delicate, the exquisite and the theatrically miniature almost makes her into a latter day Jane Austen - New Statesman
I loved this book so much I gulped it down in just two sittings... Jane Shilling is a peerlessly elegant and evocative writer - Mail on Sunday
Shilling is a gorgeous writer and there are chunks of this book that I would happily steal... If this woman wrote a novel I would buy it in a heartbeat... Shilling puts the ageing process under the microscope and, as we read, we squirm - Observer
Jane Shilling is an outstandingly good writer...she also has emotional and intellectual courage - Spectator
Wry, quietly fuming and often moving memoir of a midlife cri de couer... exceptionally companionable, occasionally bejewelled and richly sustaining broth of a book - Sunday Telegraph
Shilling's style, dashingly cavalier and artfully artless, bubbles with wit and brio - Independent
Imagine Montaigne as a thoroughly modern unmarried mother and freelance journalist living in south London... Everywhere there is detail, and nuance, and care about others, and about words - Guardian
Shilling is brave and endearingly frank - Scotsman
An intelligent discursion on what it means to be a no-longer-youthful female in a world obsessed with staying young ... Her thoughts are refreshing, provocative and a pleasure to read - Metro
Jane Shilling is an excellent writer...this is detailed, personal and memorable - Evening Standard
The essay form, with its drifts and lurches, suits Shilling's purposes perfectly as she catalogues her experience of middle-ages confusion and loss... all with detail, nuance, enthusiasm and care - Guardian
The usual stereotypes about grumpy old women are jettisoned in favour of ironic and nuanced observations about sexuality, identity and death in this crisply written memoir about middle age - Daily Telegraph
An honest midlife memoir of ageing, false expectations and unrealised dreams - The Times
Detailed, personable and memorable - Scotsman
Her story may not be unusual, but the elegance and range of her writing most certainly is. The journey is a delight - Daily Telegraph
Fans of this beautifully crafted, critically acclaimed memoir of middle-age might well take the view that it should be distributed free on the NHS to all women over 50... a penetrating analysis of the challenges and heartaches of life's middle phase - Daily Mail
Shilling casts a self-critical eye over the events that have shaped her life - Independent
About the Author
Jane Shilling writes on books for the Daily Telegraph, Sunday Telegraph and Daily Mail, and on television for the Evening Standard. Her first book was The Fox in the Cupboard, a critically acclaimed memoir about her mid-life love affair with fox-hunting. She lives in Greenwich with her son.