Optics: A Novel About Women and Work and Midlife Muddles

Gail Reitenbach (Author)


Nobody prepared Kris Wright and her friends for the toughest trial of adulthood: unemployment after age fifty.
All her life, Kris assumed that working hard and doing the right thing would ensure a full and satisfying career. When she unexpectedly loses her job as marketing director for Klassik Eyewear, she's forced to reexamine those assumptions, reinvent herself, and regain control of her identity.
Kris quickly learns that unemployment is a scary state for a middle-aged woman. Job postings all seem written for younger candidates. Networking proves a dead end. Suddenly she no longer feels herself a role model for her college senior daughter or an equal partner in her marriage. For the first time ever she's not in control-of her career or her emotions. Meanwhile, a midlife crisis is threatening most of her closest friends, known as the G7.
In this tightly written coming-of-middle-age novel set in Albuquerque, New Mexico, female friendships and changing family dynamics provide the backdrop for a second act no one-least of all Kris-anticipated.
While providing a cautionary tale about the perils facing midlife women in the job market, this feel-good career reinvention novel serves up realism with a side of humor and a sliver of revenge. Fans of Allison Pearson's How Hard Can It Be? will enjoy this examination of the multiple challenges facing women determined to prove that age should never be a job disqualification.

Product Details

Moonsong Press
Publish Date
September 01, 2020
5.24 X 7.99 X 0.62 inches | 0.69 pounds
BISAC Categories:

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About the Author

GAIL REITENBACH is an award-winning professional writer and editor living in Santa Fe, New Mexico. While working in academia, publishing, and corporate America she wrote and edited everything from tweets to books. This is her first novel. She holds English degrees from St. Olaf College and Boston College. Hiking and gardening have enhanced her strength, resilience, and humility.


Optics is a charming novel about the challenges and possibilities of women's middle years.

In Gail Reitenbach's warm and funny novel Optics, a close-knit group of middle-aged gal pals navigate ageism and turn setbacks into comebacks.

Kris could be having a midlife crisis; her baby girl is grown, her husband is talking about early retirement, her wrinkles are more prominent, and she's suddenly found herself unemployed after a long-term career. Instead, Kris is having a midlife glow-up-reframing the glasses game in her own vision. With a support team of friends and family who are there for venting and advice, Kris decides to fight society's expectations and make sure that her second act is even better than her first.

-Foreword Clarion Reviews

The best stories are always rooted in truth. Optics is an engaging novel that starts with the reality of ageism and how it impacts the lives of many compelling and easy-to-cheer-for characters. I've always felt that the tragedy of ageism in the workplace is that far too many glorious careers end in inglorious ways. Through Kris's story we learn it doesn't always have to be that way.

-Patti Temple Rocks, Author of I'm Not Done: It's Time to Talk About Ageism in the Workplace

Reitenbach's smoothly written debut novel follows seven friends and their struggles navigating the professional world as middle-aged women. ...

Fans of older women fighting to have their talents recognized will cheer for this novel's charming heroine as she reinvents the company she loves and her own future in the business world.

-Booklife, by Publishers Weekly