story behind the book | kate tuttle

Into the tossed, uncharted waters of turning 40

david wilson for the boston globe

At the start of Pamela Druckerman’s new book, “There Are No Grown-Ups: A Midlife Coming-of-Age Story,” she recalls the moment she became aware that all the waiters in Paris, where she lives, began to call her “madame” rather than “mademoiselle.” It was unsettling and, she admitted, discouraging.

“I realized I was being a little bit ridiculous,” Druckerman said. “I consider myself a feminist, a modern person. I didn’t think that I was going to buy into this absurd cult of youth.” Still, she said, “I think I was buying the dominant cultural story, which is you should look as young as you can for as long as you can.”

In Druckerman’s previous book, “Bringing Up Bébé,” the American journalist wrote about the wisdom she’d gleaned from Parisian parents. French women provide inspiration in the new book as well — although Druckerman was quick to dispel the notion that aging is painless in Paris (“there’s Botox here, too”). Still, she added, “the French have this idea, which I find very powerful, that you should try to look like the best version of the age that you are.”


The book grew out of Druckerman’s 2014 column in The New York Times, where she is a regular contributor. “I filled so many notebooks with stray thoughts about what I was going through, what it felt like to be my age, and what people were saying to me,” Druckerman said. “I felt like I’d entered this slightly uncharted territory. I thought the forties were kind of funny, too. Someone said that humor is putting people in circumstances that they’re unprepared to handle, and I thought ‘Well, that’s the forties!’ ”

Druckerman will read at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Brookline Booksmith.

Kate Tuttle, president of the National Book Critics Circle, can be reached at