Woman Last Seen in Her Thirties by Camille Pagán

Genre: eternal musings of the confused mind. ⭐️Stars from Goodreads: 3.79. ⭐️Stars from me: 2.

About the book

There’s no book. Woman Last Seen in Her Thirties is a sort of container which keeps Maggie in. She’s like a jinn in an oil lamp. You touch the container, you let Maggie out, and she starts complaining about her life.


I’ve never felt like a therapist to a fictional character before, but Maggie made this experience possible. She entered my reading life, made herself comfortable and for the next several hours relayed each and every thought and trouble of her first year as a divorcee.

About Maggie

Her husband is divorcing her. She’s devastated. For years her life orbited around her family only, but now her husband is swooshed away by a midlife crisis, and her adult kids have their own lives. She’s lost, confused and grieving. She doesn’t feel noticed or needed. The last time she did feel noticed was when she was thirty (hence the title).

Maggie is mainly fixating on

  • why her husband left her. Was it her body? Was it his work? Was it the way she kissed? Was it the was she didn’t kiss?
  • what others think about her. Do they notice her? Who noticed her? Why did they notice her?
  • what she did to others. How could she? Could she? Was it ok then? Is it ok now?

Maggie is full of doubts, whether she’s in Rome, or in a new house, or at work. Her mind is full of “maybes”. Here’s what it looks like:

…maybe he, like I, was bereft over our children leaving home.

Maybe he really had changed… Maybe we both had.

Maybe it was not the autumn of my romantic life. Maybe there was some spring left in me after all.

But maybe, I thought – just maybe – …

So you did, Maggie. There are 112 “maybes” (on 254 pages).  And I haven’t even calculated all instances of “probably” and “perhaps”. Maggie is full of uncertainties and she knows it.

I know I’m overanalyzing it, but that’s kind of what I do.

The only breathers happen when Maggie is having conversations with somebody other than herself. But even then, for god knows what reason, Maggie interrupts the dialogues in order to inform us what a cup looks like, or how many dandelions she has picked already.

Anything about the book?

No, there’s NO book! There’s no plot! It’s a year in a woman’s life during which she takes a trip, talks to her kids, meets friends, makes some changes. Sometimes she goes shopping, sometimes she tries new make-up. She changes her hair colour (oh no, is this a spoiler? 😱 ) She cuts tomatoes. In fact, when I was 94 percent into the book and Maggie was still just cutting tomatoes, I braced myself for the book to end on her picking up a cucumber to cut next. Thankfully, it ended on a nice closure of one major question. I’m glad that was the moment I last saw Maggie, and that I didn’t have to say goodbye to her when she was just making a salad.

Final thoughts about Maggie

Maggie is the only reason I’m giving this text two stars. I like her, even though she often sounds like a friend who gets drunk and then goes on and on about her ex. Maggie is still fun. She can joke. She would make a good book reviewer!

Jean [Maggie’s friend] has shelves full of apocalyptic-type novels. Some of them are strangely good, though the main takeaway is that if you manage to survive the beginning of the end of time, your reward is prolonged misery, and maybe the occasional roll in the hay with some survivor who’s even more screwed up than you are.

Would I recommend meeting Maggie?

If you are looking for an imaginary friend, but the one who wouldn’t really be there for you and instead would need you to be there for her, then you will love meeting Maggie.

11 thoughts on “Woman Last Seen in Her Thirties by Camille Pagán

  1. Hahaha I am not really sure I want Maggie as my imaginary friend. I have too many real friends who don’t actually care for me… Well they are not really friends are they?

    1. Shalini, what a wonderful attitude and sense of humour, thanks for the laugh. 😄 You are right, those probably aren’t really true friends and I totally know what you mean. With Maggie though, you also have to pay for the medium that will teleport her into your life.

      1. Yikes… Payment for a friend who wouldn’t be there… Now I have heard it all… My life is complete 😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂

  2. I don’t think this one’s for me… she sounds like the sort of friend who keeps you talking when you need to be somewhere doing something important! Also I notice things like repeated words, I don’t like the sound of all those maybes 🙂

  3. HA! This review is hysterical. I feel like I would not be able to be Maggie’s friend for very long; too needy. She sounds like she’d be a good best friend to herself. So, I think I’ll skip this book. 🙂 Too bad, because the premise (and the title) are intriguing. But meh, I have enough whiny people to deal with. 😉

    1. I’m so happy I can make people laugh! :))

      Well, I was stuck with Maggie. It was either her, or a total solitude with no alternative for a few hours. By the time I understood what I had gotten myself into I already knew Maggie quite well, so I decided to last through her monologues till the end. At least, this way I could make sure that my perception of what’s going on was right.

  4. I loved your review, although I think I may pass on the book.

    On a different topic – nothing to do with your fab post – I’m reading Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” for the first time. I love it! It’s been far too long since I’ve read Dickens.

    Have a wonderful Holiday Season! 🙂

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