About Woman Last Seen in Her Thirties
At fifty-three, Maggie Harris has a good marriage and two mostly happy children. Perpetually anxious, she’s also accumulated a list of semi-reasonable fears: falling air conditioners, the IRS, identity theft, skydiving, and airbag recalls. But never once did Maggie worry that her husband of nearly thirty years would leave her.
On the day Adam walks out the door, everything that makes Maggie secure goes with him. Only then does she realize that while she’s been busy caring for everyone else, she’s become invisible to the world—and to herself.
Maggie cautiously begins to rebuild her life with a trip to Rome, a new career, and even a rebound romance. But when a fresh crisis strikes and an uncertain future looms, she must decide: How much will she risk to remain the woman she’s just become?
What Camille had to say about writing Woman Last Seen in Her Thirties
“Established writers are known to tell new and aspiring writers to write what they know. It’s good advice. But on the verge of the publication of my fourth novel, I’ve begun to realize my own pattern veers left of this suggestion: I don’t so much write what I know as what I’m afraid of. Broken friendships that reveal deep secrets; an incurable disease and the dissolution of an anchoring relationship; leaving the world before my children have grown. And now, with my latest novel, Woman Last Seen in Her Thirties, the fear that as a woman turning the corner on her youth, that the world will soon render me irrelevant.
At first glance, it’s a ridiculous worry: as long as you’re alive, you can be useful, needed, and seen. But ads for wrinkle creams and articles for rejuvenation regimens and a daily onslaught of various memes suggesting a woman’s worth lies in youth and beauty say otherwise. One can barely turn on the television without being reminded that a woman over 40 seems to have but two options: turn to the scalpel and syringe and stay in the scene; or accept her cellular fate and fade into the background as an extra.
The fear of irrelevance must have been lurking in my subconscious for some time, but an incident one afternoon brought it vividly to light. I was standing in Whole Foods when a college-aged man bumped into me. He was busy talking to the friend he was shopping with, and glanced up at me with a look that said he had just looked right through me. Then he continued on his way. Maybe he was simply rude, but it made me wonder if I had just been given a glimpse of my future. In that moment, the premise of Woman Last Seen in Her Thirties was born.
Over the following months, I began to examine the world around me more closely. Not always, but often enough, I saw women of a certain age overlooked and undervalued. A cashier chats up a middle-aged man—but not the same-aged woman who checks out just after him. Doors are held open for the young and the old—but rarely for women in the middle. Job postings tout a desire for candidates with experience, gravitas, and knowledge—only to be filled by bright young men clutching degrees whose ink has not yet dried.
As a journalist, though, I knew that if you only look for one thing, that’s all you’ll see. So I challenged myself to look again, deep and wide, and this time I saw women of all ages doing incredible and exciting things. Women who refused not to be seen. Women who didn’t care if they were. Smart, savvy, wonderful women making waves, loving and being loved, and living damn good lives.
Those latter observations informed the slow and steady rebirth of Maggie Halfmoon Harris, the protagonist of Woman Last Seen in Her Thirties. As Maggie mustered the courage to reinvent herself and draw boundaries in the new life she never saw coming, I realized—as is so often the case when I write my books; writing is nothing if not a form of therapy—my fears of irrelevance had disappeared. Like Maggie already knows but finally learns to put into practice, you can’t control the actions of those around you, but you can control your own reactions—and in doing so, craft a life with meaning and purpose.”
What people are saying
“[Pagan’s] writing is fun and engaging. Maggie is a wonderful character, and readers will identify with her struggles and successes in rebuilding her life.”—BOOKLIST
“Pagán has created a winning character in Maggie. Watching her wake up to the world around her and realize that there’s more to life than a dull marriage is exciting and relatable. Women’s fiction readers will find a lot to like in this book.” —Library Journal
“Pagán does a wonderful job of bringing us a character that is so believable you feel like you know her. You can relate to many of her problems and concerns, as well as understand just how easy it is for some to find themselves in the same situation. With her usual precision, Pagan breaks down the barriers of thought and how we can find the strength that is within everyone of us … If you enjoy family drama and stories of growth you will find this a terrific addition to your library.” —Seattle PI
“It’s no surprise that I loved every page of this book … the story flowed smoothly without feeling rushed and never feeling too slow. Woman Last Seen in Her Thirties is a feel-good novel with likable characters. It’s lighthearted at times and poignant at others. I definitely recommend this one.” —Roundtable Reviews
“Camille Pagán knows women, relationships, and the complexity of the push-pull involved when a love is both old and new. In Woman Last Seen in Her Thirties, Pagán writes with the kind of confidence and warmth that makes you feel like you are in very good hands all the way to the final word. Do yourself a favor: take a deep breath and dive into her world. You won’t regret it.” —Ann Garvin, author of the USA Today bestselling novel I LIKE YOU JUST FINE WHEN YOU’RE NOT AROUND
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Camille Pagán is the author of four novels: Woman Last Seen During Her Thirties, Forever is the Worst Long Time, The Art of Forgetting, and the #1 Kindle bestselling novel Life and Other Near-Death Experiences, which was recently optioned for film. Her books have been translated into ten languages.