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Kings Mountain, North Carolina, United States
"A mind lively and at ease" is a blog by a first-generation Russian-Ukrainian immigrant Maria K. (Maria Igorevna Kuroshchepova). An engineer by education, an analyst by trade, as well as a writer, photographer, artist and amateur model, Maria brings her talent for weaving an engaging narrative to stories of life, fashion and style advice, book and movie reviews, and common-sense and to-the-point essays on politics and economy.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Book review for women of all ages

When you have a moment, go to YouTube and look up a wonderful little bit of animation titled Female Astrology by Soviet artist Rosalia Zelma. There are some Russian words in it, but for the most part you can make it out without translation, as this brilliant animated short walks you through various phases of a woman's life.

The two books below do much the same thing, albeit more extensively. Rona Altrow's Key In Lock is a collection of women-centered stories narrated in first person by female characters of all ages and walks of life.

Old women, middle-aged women, young women, teenage girls; women with jobs, women without jobs, housewives, business owners; women who want kids but can't have them; women who have kids but don't want them, women who love their kids but not their parents, women who love their parents but not their spouses; married women, dating women, divorced women, single women, widowed women; well-educated sophisticated women and women who can barely put two words together... For all you know, you may have passed some of them on the street, stood behind them in line at Starbucks or glimpsed them through a shop window on your way to work. Each story is something you might overhear while waiting at a bus stop or being a fly on the wall at someone's home.

All of them together make a delightful and intensely personal mix, proving once and for all that our lives cannot - and should not - develop according to someone else's time table. So, when something deviates from what is considered the appropriate course, making a new path is not only acceptable - it is encouraged.

The similar theme is picked up by Kim Johnson Gross in her What to Wear for the Rest of Your Life: Ageless Secrets of Style. The difference is that the author makes her point by weaving real-life statements and experiences into what is essentially a style guide book.

I want to be clear, I do not agree with her on everything. I am of the school of thought that black does not, in fact, go with everything (brown and charcoal gray are much softer, more versatile and do not kill the subtlety in other colors). I also vehemently oppose just about everything in the Fake It Till You Make It chapter. If you can't button your pants or skirt, and the button cannot be moved to make some room - they have to go. Hiking them up unbuttoned and hiding them under a tunic is just not acceptable to me.

That said, I still think it is a fantastic positive book, helping women realize that there is style after menopause and allowing those who have crossed that line see them in a new fun and feminine light, and those who have yet to come to that point to not be afraid of it.


Naomi Lewis and said...

Thank you so much for your generous review of my latest book, Key In Lock, Maria. You have certainly captured the flavour of the book and I hope the people who read your blog will check it out and get something out of it. Nothing makes me happier than a satisfied reader.

Maria K. said...

Naomi, I had a tremendous time reading your book. Very, very fine writing and the kinds of situations and characters I think we can all relate to.

In fact, during the last family dinner my husband and I had with the in-laws, we were discussing my little nephew's adventure, when he forgot to get off the bus on his first day of school and went on to the after-hours daycare while the entire family was going nuts trying to find him. That brough to mind some of the "small kids adventure" stories from "Key in Lock" - particularly the one with the two little boys supposedly swallowing a bunch of pills and the parents having to sit around the emergency room and wait for their pizza and for the kids to throw up. You just can't make up stuff like that - I know first-hand that it's always based on reality.

Congratulations on your book and keep them coming!