No One Tells You This

A memoir by Glynnis MacNicol.

Glynnis MacNicol

If the story doesn't end with marriage or a child, what then?

This question plagued Glynnis MacNicol on the eve of her 40th birthday. Despite a successful career as a writer and an exciting life in New York City, Glynnis was constantly reminded she had neither of the things the world expected of a woman her age: a partner or a baby. She knew she was supposed to feel bad about this. After all, single women and those without children are often seen as objects of pity, relegated to the sidelines, or indulgent spoiled creatures who think only of themselves.

Glynnis refused to be cast into either of those roles and yet the question remained: What now? There was no good blueprint for how to be a woman alone in the world. She concluded it was time to create one.

Over the course of her 40th year, which this memoir chronicles, Glynnis embarks on a revealing journey of self-discovery that continually contradicts everything she'd been led to expect. Through the trials of family illness and turmoil, and the thrills of far-flung travel and adventures with men, young and old (and sometimes wearing cowboy hats), she is forced to wrestle with her biggest hopes and fears about love, death, sex, friendship and loneliness. In doing so, she discovers that holding the power to determine her own fate requires a resilience and courage that no one talks about, and is more rewarding than anyone imagines. (From Simon & Schuster)

From the book

Eight hours before my fortieth birthday, I sat alone at my desk on the seventeenth floor of an office building in downtown Manhattan, unable to shake the conviction that midnight was hanging over me like a guillotine. I was certain that come the stroke of twelve my life would be cleaved in two, a before and an after: all that was good and interesting about me, that made me a person worthy of attention, considered by the world to be full of potential, would be stripped away, and whatever remained would be thrust, unrecognizable, into the void that awaited.

It was ridiculous. Deep down, I knew it was ridiculous. However, knowing this did not keep me from anxiously glancing at the clock out in the hallway as if the hands on it were actual blades.

I thought of my mother, of course. Whether or not we actually resemble the image we see, our mothers are our first, and most lasting, reflection of ourselves: a mirror we gaze into from birth until death.

From No One Tells You This by Glynis MacNichol ©2018. Published by Simon & Schuster Canada.


In her memoir, No One Tells You This, Canadian author Glynnis MacNicol reflects on turning 40 and the endless societal expectation that women be married and have children by that age. 9:42