In Their Blooming Sixties: Aging as Awakening in Amanda Cross’ The Imperfect Spy and The Puzzled Heart

Emma Domínguez-Rué


Although the writer and Columbia professor Carolyn Gold Heilbrun (1926-2003) is more widely known for her best-selling mystery novels, published under the pseudonym of Amanda Cross, she also authored remarkable pieces of non-fiction in which she asserted her long-standing commitment to feminism, while she also challenged established notions on women and aging and advocated for a reassessment of those negative views. Taking her essays in feminism and literary criticism as a basis and two of her later novels as substantiation to my argument, this paper will try to illustrate the ways in which the aging female characters in her Kate Fansler series became an instrument to reach a mass audience of readers who might not have read her non-fiction but who were perhaps finding it difficult to reach fulfillment as women under patriarchy, especially upon reaching middle age. My aim is to reveal the ways in which Heilbrun’s seemingly more superficial and much more commercial mystery novels as Amanda Cross were used a catalyst that informed her feminist principles while vindicating the need to rethink about issues concerning the cultural and literary representations of mature women.


Heilbrun, Cross Aging, Gender, Detective

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Copyright (c) 2015 Emma Domínguez-Rué

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European Journal of Life Writing - ISSN 1876-8156 - is an open access initiative supported by the VU University Library.