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Fifty is Not a Four-Letter Word

by Linda Kelsey


In this novel, Hope Lyndhurst-Steele faces a milestone birthday.  Not only is turning 50 memorable because it marks half a century, but because it officially begins her midlife crisis.  Suddenly fired from her glamorous job as a magazine editor, abandoned by her husband of 20 years, and fighting off new flab and wrinkles, she learns that her precious 18-year-old son is sleeping with the neighborhood floozy.  Her parents have their own problems and can offer no support at this time.  Likewise, her best friend finds her own life in turmoil, and vents her frustration on Hope.  It’s just too much for one middle-aged Jewish British woman to handle.

In an effort to overcome these obstacles, Hope travels, meets new people, visits a surgeon, and embarks on a long-distance hiking adventure.  Although none of her problems resolve themselves easily, quickly, or completely, during the course of her fiftieth year, she can finally gain proper perspective on what’s going on in her rocky little world.  Fifty is Not a Four-Letter Word takes place during that tumultuous year, with occasional flashbacks to fill in the blanks of Hope’s life.

With little touches of humor and sadness, the story takes the reader on one woman’s roller-coaster adventure in finding herself.  It’s an entertaining read, with former magazine editor Linda Kelsey’s casual writing style seeming to flow spontaneously from one chapter to the next. Sorting out the names of Hope’s many friends, relatives, and acquaintances feels overwhelming in the first few chapters, but becomes easier as the story progresses.  Following the text, a Reading Group Guide provides a dozen questions for readers to consider about the book’s characters, style, and structure.

The Book

Spot 5 / Hachette Book Group
March 2009
More at
NOTE: Profanity and Sexuality
Holiday read: Mentions New Year’s Eve and Christmas

The Reviewer

Leslie Halpern
Reviewed 2009
NOTE: Reviewer Leslie Halpern is the author of Reel Romance: The Lovers' Guide to the 100 Best Date Movies, Dreams on Film, A Writer's Guide to Fearless Interviews, and the co-author of Connections: A Collection of Poems. Coming Soon: Passionate About Their Work: Celebrities, Artists, and Experts Discuss Creativity.
© 2009