Review: Daring: My Passages, by Gail Sheehy (@Gail_Sheehy)

About the book, Daring: My Passages Daring: My Passages

• Hardcover: 496 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow (September 2, 2014)

The author of Passages, a book that changed millions of lives, now lays bare her own life passages in a captivating memoir that reveals her harrowing and ultimately triumphant path from groundbreaking 1960s “girl” journalist to fearless bestselling author who made a career of excavating cultural taboos—from sex, menopause, and midlife crisis to illness, caregiving, and death. Daring to blaze a trail in a “man’s world,” Gail Sheehy became one of the premier practitioners of New Journalism at the fledgling New York magazine, along with such stellar writers as Tom Wolfe, Gloria Steinem, and Jimmy Breslin. Sheehy dared to walk New York City’s streets with hookers and pimps to expose violent prostitution; to march with civil rights protesters in Northern Ireland as British soldiers opened fire; to seek out Egypt’s president Anwar Sadat when he was targeted for assassination after making peace with Israel; and to break the glass ceiling in a media world fueled by testosterone, competition, and grit.

Daring: My Passages is also the beguiling love story of Sheehy’s tempestuous romance with Clay Felker, the charismatic creator of New York magazine and the mentor who inspired her to become a fearless journalist who won renown for her penetrating character portraits of world leaders, including Hillary Clinton, both Presidents Bush, British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, and Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev, among others.

Sheehy reflects on desire, ambition, and wanting it all—career, love, children, friends, social significance—and coming to terms with waiting until midlife to achieve it all. With candor and humor, she describes her early failures; the pain of betrayal in a first marriage; her struggles as a single mother; the flings of an ardent, liberated young woman; the vertigo of becoming an internationally bestselling author; her adoption of a second daughter from a refugee camp; the poignant account of Clay’s decline; and her ongoing passion for life, work, and love.

Fascinating and no-holds-barred, Daring: My Passages is a testament to guts, resilience, and smarts, and offers a bold perspective on all of life’s passages.

Buy, read, and discuss Daring: My Passages

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

About the author, Gail Sheehy Gail Sheehy

Gail Sheehy is the author of sixteen books, including the classic New York Times bestseller Passages, named one of the ten most influential books of our times by the Library of Congress. A multiple award-winning literary journalist, she was one of the original contributors to New York magazine and has been a contributing editor to Vanity Fair since 1984. A popular lecturer, Sheehy was named AARP’s Ambassador of Caregiving in 2009. She lives in New York City.

Connect with Gail

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My Thoughts:

I remember being six or seven years old and hearing my mother talk about this book called Passages with her girlfriends. “Read it,” she would tell them, “and make it your Bible.”

While I often stole reading material from my mother, even then (by the time I was ten we would be in a monthly race to see who got first crack at Redbook and Ms.), I confess, Passages was not one of the books I ‘borrowed.’ I think I was a little too young, and more interested in getting to the part of The Hardy Boys novel where Frank and Joe find out why the room had no floor.

I also confess that for some time I thought Passages was one of those nice-lady inspirational books, never mind that my mother is – and always has been – a fierce woman who would often remind me that, “Ladies are women who don’t have to work,” and who gave me her original copy of Our Bodies, Ourselves when I turned sixteen, following up with the then-current version when I turned twenty-one. I mean…this was not a woman who would read and respond to some namby-pamby nice-lady book.

But the title stuck with me, in the back of my head, so when the awesome women at TLC Book Tours invited me the chance to review the memoir of the author of the book that had so influenced my mother’s life, I HAD to say yes.

Wow! Am I glad I did, because Gail Sheehy has had a really interesting life, and she tells her story with a voice that is both strong and confident as well as witty and wry, all qualities that she’s obviously honed through her incredible career. I sat down with this book at the beginning of the week, and read it as if it were a novel. I was gripped. I was hooked. I wish Gail Sheehy would live to be a thousand so that she could write fifty more amazing memoirs. (Can you tell I was a Theatre major and am not so good with the math?)

Daring: My Passages is more than just one woman’s memoir. It’s a glimpse at the early days of American feminism, at the civil rights movement, and at how our society continues to change and evolve. And for the sense of history alone, it’s worth the read, especially for women, and most especially for young women, who are being told that feminism means hating men (it doesn’t) or that it’s somehow wrong (it’s not.)

As well, though, it’s the poignant story of a woman, who shares the universal struggles we all share – finding her voice, finding her place in the universe, growing up, growing older, dealing with parents who are human and flawed and inconsistent…as well as those struggles that are uniquely her own: making a name in journalism, and later as an author of books, navigating workplace romances that become life-long relationships, and dealing with a partner whose health is being eroded away.

It is the combination of the universal and the unique, the public and the personal that make Daring: My Passages such a compelling read. And read it you simply must.

As an aside, one of my favorite novels as I was growing up (around the time I was fourteen or fifteen, I think) was Allen Drury’s Anna Hastings: the Story of a Washington Newspaperperson, and there were times when I wondered if Gail Sheehy might have been one of the people who inspired Anna’s character.

Goes well with a perfectly cooked steak with sauteed mushrooms, potatoes mashed with gouda, and an endive salad, and either a J&G or a glass of Scotch.

TLC Book Tours

This review is part of a blog tour sponsored by TLC Book Tours. For more information and the complete list of tour stops, please click HERE.