I first read about Jane Juska in the newspaper. She was being profiled - a full-page article plus photo. Why the fuss? A Round-Heeled Woman: My Late-Life Adventures in Sex and Romance is an autobiographical account of Juska’s adventures that started at age sixty-six when she placed a personal ad in The New York Review of Books requesting lots of sex before her sixty-seventh birthday, conversation optional. Juska confesses to enjoying sex, missing sex and wanting to experience it again. Amen, sister! The real nugget of gold lays in her frank retelling of the life-defining moments that relate to her sexuality. Juska writes in a light and breezy style about her journey across America in search of a man who can stimulate her body as well as her brain. Think, Our Miss Brooks meets Moll Flanders meets Fanny Hill.
Jane Juska leads a rewarding life: she volunteers, she sings, and she teaches part-time at a college. There’s only one thing missing: sex. Juska was brought up to believe that “good girls don’t.” With brutal honesty and an unflinching eye, she examines her innermost fears, confronts them head on and takes us on a journey that is at times both funny and painful. Juska describes her forays into intimacy, such as Danny, the blind date from hell whose idea of humour was to fake a psychotic episode in a restaurant on their first (and only) date. And then there was Jonah, her first lover, who said to her on their second night together “I no longer desire you” – and stole her new silk pyjamas and champagne flutes. Ouch! Juska is a woman who is very comfortable with her desire and so refreshingly honest that, while on tour promoting her book, she has been congratulated, propositioned and vilified. What is so controversial about a woman who says she likes sex?
What about the men Juska encounters? Who would reply to such an ad? Scruffy trenched-coated old coots? No. Her suitors are successful, intelligent men ranging in age from thirty-three (Graham) to eighty-two (Jonah). Jane is wooed by Graham who has magnificent legs (he sent her a photo) and a talent for excellent conversation. At first she resists because of the age difference, but then she reconsiders - thankfully. Juska’s story has everything: courage, sadness, triumph, failure, humour and, of course, sex. As Juska says, “Life just keeps coming at you…[b]ut every so often, you can catch a piece of it and make it do what you want it to, at least for a little while.” No truer words were ever spoken.
I’m the kind of reader who, when I come across something interesting in a book, likes to try it out for myself (which is why I don’t read true crime). I placed my own personal ad in a national newspaper after I finished the second chapter. Yes, that’s how inspiring this book is. This book is a five-star gem. Thank you, Jane.