Sandra Tsing Loh is the Madwoman in the Volvo

With a hearty dose of humor, Loh discusses her experiences with middle-age and menopause

Published : Tuesday, April 22, 2014 | 2:45 PM

The Madwoman in the Volvo is the much-anticipated memoir based on the 2012 Best American Essay by Sandra Tsing Loh, originally published in The Atlantic Monthly. By turns hilarious, dark, candid, and surprisingly informative, Loh’s stream-of-consciousness account of her menopausal madness was virally Xeroxed and shared from woman to woman.

These women are part of a new wave Loh dubs “Generation Triple M” (Middle-Aged Moms in Menopause), which includes women who, while technically childless, are caring for someone, often an elderly parent. It’s a historically unprecedented phenomenon: at 48 million members, middle-aged women are America’s largest demographic group, and they are juggling caregiving, work and relationships while going through menopause, a time when ancient tribeswomen went alone to a cave. With such pressure, something will blow.

Loh’s own roller coaster included an affair with a married man who then left her, the explosion of her marriage to her partner of 20 years and father of her children, and a despairing withdrawal to a tiny cabin where, haunted by insomnia, she combined too much wine and Ambien, causing her right arm to paralyze into a claw. Surprisingly, deeper research into the biological science of menopause that this was all normal.

Loh chronicles utterly relatable, everyday perils: raising preteen daughters, weathering hormonal changes, and going through the ups and downs of a career and a relationship. She writes of keeping her daughters off Facebook while managing the legal and marital hijinks of her eighty-nine-year-old dad.

In this witty, humane and compulsively readable book, Loh eventually deduces that this midlife “madness” is less about menopause than the madness of the world and madness of trying to maintain appearances during an epic hormonal—which means physical, emotional, mental and even spiritual—change. The upbeat conclusion: it does get better.

Loh will be discussing her book at All Saints Church, 132 N. Euclid, on Thursday, May 1 at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are $27.00 which includes one copy of Madwoman in the Volvo: My Year of Raging Hormones and two tickets to the event. Because this event is being held right at the book’s release, paid reservations will be taken ahead of time and books and tickets will be handed at the venue the night of the event. Tickets are available through Vroman’s Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena. For more information call (626) 449-5320 or visit www.vromansbookstore.com.

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