Yes, says novelist Phyllis Gebauer, and here’s why...

Grief. Women’s sexuality. Aging. Self-actualization. If you have any doubt that these are hot-button issues in today’s culture, browse the women’s studies and/or psychology sections of any bookstore. Pay attention to what’s on the docket of so many afternoon television talk shows. Read the “life” section of the newspaper or of any magazine that covers contemporary society and culture, from Psychology Today to AARP The Magazine. Or, best of all, talk frankly with any widow who’s as honest—and as entertaining—as Phyllis Gebauer, author of Hot Widow.

Phyllis began her widowhood, as she puts it, “hot off the press,” cast into adventures of the mind, body, and spirit for which she’d had no previous training. She had to live with the painful memories of her husband’s final days while bombarded by obligations and challenges. She found herself “hot and bothered,” flummoxed by her feelings, delving into therapy to understand her weaknesses and appreciate her strengths. One thing she found out: to men she was “hot stuff.” How to live with that when she had so little past experience? Perhaps she had to learn to enjoy her solitude. Perhaps, but by this time she was “hot and heavy” with a grief that wouldn’t leave and a depression that threatened her sanity and her life. Still, she weathered the storm and has now recovered her spirit to the point that she can say—in spite of or because of all she’s been through—that she is up for life and “hot to trot.”

Hot Widow
is a different kind of coming-of-age story. It’s about a woman who married right out of college, who never had children, and who suddenly—after forty-seven years of being treated like a princess by her adoring husband—finds herself on her own. The story follows her first two years of widowhood, during which she changes from sheltered (aging) child to grown-up, independent woman. In the course of various sexual, therapeutic, and travel adventures she encounters major highs and crippling lows, but her courage and pluck pull her through, and by the end of the book she has finally become whole without her other half.

Phyllis Gebauer teaches fiction at UCLA Extension and leads workshops throughout Southern California on memoir writing and writing one’s way through grief and loss. She is the author of the novel The Pagan Blessing (Viking Press 1979, Fithian Press 2006).


Hot Widow
A Memoir
Phyllis Gebauer
ISBN 978-156474-471-5
ISBN 156474-471-X
296 pages, paperback, $16.95

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