Summer book club: What’s Wrong With Me?

Lorraine Candy’s warm, witty and well-researched book is part of a growing movement of midlife women who are speaking up. This is the first review in’s summer book club series.

What's wrong with me book cover


Early on in her book, Lorraine Candy describes her Whatsapp groups with her middle-aged female friends, to provide a snapshot of this often-tumultuous but often-overlooked stage in women’s lives. 

The women ping messages back and forth about divorces, career-changes, children leaving home, affairs, redundancies, reunions, cancer, sex-toys, and existential questions. The tone flips between wry and fraught. “There is so much going on now that most of us are in our forties and fifties that it is hard to keep up,” Candy writes.

Candy’s book ‘What’s Wrong With Me?’: 101 Things Midlife Women Need to Know explores the huge changes that come with midlife, a life-stage often viewed as staid until you’re in the middle of the storm yourself. This warm, witty, and well-researched book is a useful guide for women who are currently navigating this stage or have it on the not-too-distant horizon (like me).

Candy is well-placed to write about this – she co-hosts the Postcards from Midlife podcast, which has interviewed dozens of midlife experts, plus women who’ve shared their own experiences. And, as a former editor at top women’s magazines such as Cosmopolitan, she writes well too

Her book is also part of a growing movement of midlife women who are speaking up. From TV comedies such as The Change (great reviews) and And Just Like That (mixed-at-best reviews), to women taking legal action over menopause support and academics researching gendered ageism at work, women in their 40s and 50s are increasingly saying that they’re done with being invisible. 

Empty nests and death maths

Candy uses her own midlife experiences as a central narrative thread, talking openly about the “creeping sadness” and the “surprise feeling of loss” that hit her as pillars of her identity changed. She writes about her children leaving home, her changing appearance, friends falling ill, and a male GP being clueless about perimenopause. She also felt like time was running out to start something new.

Doesn’t sound much fun, does it? But luckily Candy has a sense of humour throughout, with references to doing “death maths” to work out how long you’ve got left, taking out menopausal rages on household objects, and hoping that you look like Carrie Bradshaw in your new reading glasses. She is especially funny when recounting interactions with her teenagers – and she writes particularly poignantly about them leaving home.

The book is squarely aimed at Gen X women in midlife now – perhaps too squarely. Candy stresses the specific pressures that have weighed on these women, such as 1990s “ladette” culture and the “having it all” myth for working mothers. But the book is also helpful for educating pre-midlife women on what lies ahead, as sadly many of those pressures remain. I would have enjoyed a few more insights on how things might be similar or different for millennials.

The secret weapon

In its most inspiring moments, What’s Wrong With Me? is filled with hope and female solidarity. Candy’s advice for “the messy middle” includes learning to soften – being kinder to yourself and letting your pace slow. She notes that many women finally come up for air in midlife, after juggling work and young children for several years, and they find it hard not to be manically busy. But some stillness is necessary for figuring out what you want next.

Candy also talks about finding your midlife tribe – other women at this stage of life to share experiences with and to boost you. She writes about her joy at making new friends in recent years, often through the new interests that she’s taken up in midlife. The book itself is a testament to such female solidarity as it is filled with women’s voices: expert interviews, references to female artists, snippets from Whatsapp chats with friends.

“These nourishing female friendships are the secret weapon of midlife, a silver lining,” Candy writes. “So I urge you to actively nurture the companions you have…and to find new ones to guide you forward.”

Post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your Franchise Selection

Click the button below to register your interest with all the franchises in your selection

Request FREE Information Now

Your Franchise Selection

This franchise opportunity has been added to your franchise selection



Click the button below to register your interest with all the franchises in your selection

Request FREE Information Now

You may be interested in these similar franchises