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Gifts of Age: Portraits and Essays of 32 Remarkable Women

by Charlotte Painter, Pamela Valois (Photographs)

Writer Charlotte Painter and artist/photographer Pamela Valois have combined their impressive talents to present these intimate glimpses into the lives of thirty-two remarkable women, each of whom has discovered in maturity the opportunity of exploring new and exciting challenges. These are the Gifts of Age: the time, the freedom, and hopefully the wisdom to develop creative new images of oneself and one’s place in the complexities of a long life. All of the women in this book are more than sixty-five years of age, and included are such well-known personalities as Julia Child, M.F.K. Fisher, Joan Baez Senior, and Louise M. Davies. No two have followed the same path, but each has been successful in achieving some new, frequently unanticipated distinction in her latter years. Gifts of Age is a fascinating insight into just how productive one’s extended life can be, and inspiration for anyone who believes that the creative talent for living need not diminish with the passage of years.


S.F. Focus magazine, Oct. 1985: “Valois…has presented us with a gift of role models who explode some of the myths about aging and give us a new image of wisdom and power.”

People magazine, Dec. 2, 1985: “These are not fascinating old women; they are fascinating women. Valois’ photographs are models of clarity; They achieve the considerable feat of doing justice to the marvelous women they portray.”

Ms. magazine, Feb. 1986: “But it is the courage and faith with which all these women meet their individual challenges that ennobles their talent for living. Gifts of Age restores that true perspective.”

Artweek, Jan. 17, 1987: “The book is a gift of courage and hope for those in the transitional midlife period. We are all in this together – growing old, too often alone. I found myself responding to the vitality, grace, and life spirit of each.”

Washington Post: “This handsome volume is a paean to older women. . . their attitudes toward aging are fascinating. Their stories are tales of strong wills and minds.

Library Journal: “This is a beautiful (and successful) effort by photographer Valois and writer Painter to praise, through portrait and vignette, the lives of a group of older women, some well-known, some not. Eloquently presented is the concept that “old” age for these women has not by any means brought an abandonment of vitality, commitment, and sense of purpose. Indeed, for many, an intensification and expansion of these attributes has occurred. Although these are particular women, they are clearly representative of the strength of the human will to “survive,” with integrity, for the duration of one’s life span. Visually attractive in format and content, stimulating of thought, this book should be savored. Highly recommended to a broad audience.” Suzanne W. Wood.

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