Cover image for The middle ages
The middle ages
Fields, Jennie.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : William Morrow, [2002]

Physical Description:
276 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
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X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
X Adult Fiction Open Shelf
X Adult Fiction Open Shelf

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From the acclaimed author of Crossing Brooklyn Ferry comes a sexy, witty urban love story for the ages.

For architect and single mom Jane Larson, life has become a numbing routine. Each morning she ascends from the subway to face the same job she's had for eighteen years: designing chain banks, grocery stores, and dry cleaners. In the evening she goes home to her teenage daughters who are increasingly critical of her. She's lost all interest in relationships and love, and her whole life feels frozen. But when she is suddenly let go from her firm, disaster turns into opportunity. She is forced to muster the courage to pursue her career dreams. And she begins an exhilarating, long-distance correspondence with Jack, her college flame.

Before long, her intimate conversations with Jack turn passionate, and Jane discovers that life after forty can be thrilling after all. But will the distance between Jack and Jane keep them apart? Can happily-ever-after be a reality for people who've done it all before?

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

A 40-something New Yorker gets a second chance at love and life in this warm-hearted if wandering third novel by Fields (Crossing Brooklyn Ferry; Lily Beach). Divorced and the mother of teenaged twins, Jane Larsen has worked for the same Manhattan architectural firm for 18 years, designing for chain businesses rather than the dream houses she'd prefer. Disenchanted with men, equally disenchanted with her own overweight and over-the-hill appearance, she's given up on finding love again. But when she's downsized, she takes that as an opportunity to return to her dream of designing houses (the Brooklyn brownstone she renovated for herself is lovingly described), and using the Internet she locates Jack Crashin, her true love whom she hasn't seen in nearly 30 years, the man who first inspired her to become an architect. Sparks begin to fly long-distance he's in Nashville and eventually the two reunite. Will Jack and Jane be able to make it work the second time around, despite many complicating factors? Their e-mail exchanges become maudlin, and Jane's view of herself as an unattractive, "cellulitic" woman past her prime is hardly uplifting, all of which is a shame since the author's message about the need to rearrange one's life in order to avoid regrets is resoundingly positive. If readers can get past the flaws, Jane's story may resonate with those looking for midlife inspiration. Agent, Lisa Bankoff. (Aug. 1) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

From the author of Crossing Brooklyn comes a sophisticated urban love story that will appeal to readers who have reached their own "middle ages." Amicably divorced from the father of her twin teenaged daughters, Jane Larsen lives well on her architect's salary from the prestigious New York firm where she has spent her entire career. Yet she finds herself bored with the commercial building assignments and longs for some excitement. On a lark, Jane searches the Internet for her first real love, a long-lost college boyfriend who also stirred her early interest in architecture. She finds him living in Nashville, and they reconnect over the distance by sustaining an increasingly intimate e-mail correspondence. Meanwhile, when her firm is faced with trimming costs, Jane is fired with only a five-month severance package. Although concerned about her financial future and her ability to find an equally good position at her age, Jane realizes that this setback frees her to pursue her dream of designing houses. She jumps at the offer of a commission from a handsome stranger, who also threatens to become a less distant lover. The complexities make for very enjoyable reading. Highly recommended for all fiction collections. - Sheila Riley, Smithsonian Inst. Libs., Washington, DC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



The Middle Ages Chapter One Men used to follow me. They did. Honest to God. Right up out of the subway like rats following the Pied Piper. I know you're looking at me and wondering, What the hell is she talking about? She's ordinary. She's overweight. She's old ! She's panting as she climbs the subway steps. Fifty-four. Fifty-five. Fifty-six. How many steps does it take to kill a middle-aged woman? Okay. In this ivory coat, I know I look like a jar of mayonnaise. I saw myself in a store window yesterday. I glanced fetchingly into the window and thought, What the hell is that? It wasn't always like this. In the early eighties, construction workers used to annoy me with obscenities. "Hey, baby, those forty Ds ya got?" In the early eighties, I could sit between two fat people on the subway and still have room on either side. In the early eighties, I was twice mistaken for Andrea Marcovicci. Remember her? No. Okay. I know you're saying, "Time passes. We get older every single second. Get used to it." Believe me. I'm trying. Rising from the subway, I view the world above, and sigh. Another Times Square morning. The neon signs blink on and off and on again. Except they're not neon anymore. They're TVs the size of the Parthenon. And diodes and readouts. The sky above Manhattan is that shade of blue pink that smells of New Jersey. And here I am, yet again, on my way to my job as an architect. I have been toiling at architecture for twenty-three years now. And lately, it's as if I've been pricked and all the juices have run out. It's 1999, and the architecture portion of my psyche is beginning to resemble beef jerky. Dried and cured. I design chains of banks, chains of supermarkets, chains of dry cleaners. I find myself tellingmy friends , Well, I didn't really design that. Committee influence. You know." I have begun to think that if I ever was any good, I've lost touch with it. I worry that perhaps creativity is the exclusive domain of the young. (The majority of the people we hire these days were in diapers and banging their heads against the bars of their cribs in the early eighties.) Walking down Broadway, I try to refute the power of youth. Great geniuses in later life ... ummm ... (1) Georgia O'Keeffe; (2) Grandma Moses; (3) George Burns. There must be more ... They were no longer juicy. Nobody followed them. And yet, look at the impact they made, so late in life! Georgia O'Keeffe. Have you ever seen a picture of her in her later years? She was beautiful. Beautiful as driftwood tossed for years in the surf. Character. She had character like nobody's business. And George Burns. He still made movies till the end. He still made people laugh, into his nineties, for God's sake. And Grandma Moses. Well, I don't know much about her. She became famous for painting like a child. Maybe she shouldn't count. A mother with two young girls is passing me in the opposite direction on Broadway. Oh, yes. I recognize her. That was me too. It's only nine-forty-five A.M. and the girls, all blond and flyaway, are already sticky with purple lollipops. Their dark-haired mother looks haggard, worried, miserable. The girls are yanking her forward, their tongues and faces slathered with goofy grape. For one brief second, she catches my eye. The look she gives me is complex and affecting. On one hand, she is screeching for help; on the other, she is smiling lopsidedly. "How funny that I should be at the mercy of all this," her look says. "Me, Elise Farcus, once beautiful, once desired. These wonderful little girls. These sticky little lollipops. This is my life." Ah yes. I recognize her. Come the late eighties that was me. A woman with small children. Too tired to care that my breasts were nominally still pointing upward. Too involved with my twin daughters to feel sexual when men smiled at me, which they did less and less. Daniel, their father, never seemed to. In my twenties, I was desirable but insecure. In my thirties, I was covered with spit up or had toddler bags of Cheerios edging out my pockets, and living with a man who'd lost all interest in sex with me, let alone romance. In my forties, I'm free of all that: the toddlers are grown, the man is gone, but where the hell did my beauty go? On this ordinary morning, this strikes me as a cruel joke. I pull my ivory coat around me, cross Broadway to my office building, just avoiding getting run down by a bicycle messenger with a whistle and a yellow jacket. He is free, this bike messenger, and wild, and appears as though he doesn't care who he runs over. I, on the other hand, am an indentured servant. Indentured to my mortgage, my daughters' private school tuition. I am about to walk up the steps to the plaza of my office building yet again, and then I stop. People pile up behind me, there in the middle of the sidewalk. I am shoved, cursed at. The crowd flows around me as if I were a rock in a stream. Still, I can't seem to move forward. It is a Thursday. An ordinary Thursday. Yet my office building looms like the monolith in 2001. Frightening, ominous. Must I go there? I have a bank drawing laid out on my computer likea patient on an operating table. But I simply can't move forward, or rather, I can't move forward up the stairs to Paramount Plaza. "Lady. What the hell you doin'?" "For Chrissake, move!" It's rather exciting to be shouted at, to call attention to myself at all. But I can't go in. I really can't. The Middle Ages . Copyright © by Jennie Fields. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from The Middle Ages by Jennie Fields All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.