Ladies’ Lunch: And Other Stories

Highbridge Audio. Oct. 2023. 2:51 hrs. ISBN 9781696613651. $10.99. F
Pulitzer Prize finalist and celebrated writer, teacher, and translator Segal (The Journal I Did Not Keep) pens a short story collection about five women friends who have been lunching together for over 40 years. As they enter their ninth decade of life, the women find that things that seemed important in their youth don’t matter so much anymore. Though there’s some talk of aches and pains (“Sans Teeth, Sans Taste”), their conversations focus on friendship, family, and the future. Throughout the book’s 16 stories, listeners are treated to humor, heartbreak, resourcefulness, and grim determination as the friends try to avoid assisted living, figure out how to travel, and brainstorm ways to keep the whole gang together. The collection is narrated by Callie Beaulieu, who infuses the women’s aging voices with wisdom, humor, and grace. Though some stories shine more than others, Segal brilliantly showcases incredible sharpness and wisdom in characters who sometimes forget names and misplace medications, with a perspective that cannily reflects her own lived experience.
VERDICT An unforgettable short story collection, with witty and poignant insights and a deeply relatable depiction of women approaching older age with wit and forthrightness.
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