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The Panic Years Reviews

The Panic Years by Nell Frizzell

The Panic Years: 'Every millennial woman should have this on her bookshelf' Pandora Sykes

Nell Frizzell

3.50 out of 5

5 reviews

Imprint: Bantam Press
Publisher: Transworld Publishers Ltd
Publication date: 11 Feb 2021
ISBN: 9781787632837

This maddening period of transformation and personal crisis is recognisable by the myriad of decisions we make - about partners, holidays, jobs, homes, savings, friendships - all of which are impacted by the urgency of the single decision that comes with a biological deadline, the one decision that is impossible to take back;

4 stars out of 5
Sarah Gilmartin
19 Feb 2021

"a raw, affecting and important book on what it means to be a woman in today’s society"

We know from the beginning that she eventually becomes a mother, but the journey along the way makes for fascinating reading. Her writing style tends towards excess. Frizzell gives an extraordinary amount of detail about everyday events. For the most part this works to bring us a fresh and heartfelt account of one woman trying to stay sane in the pursuit of something that everyone else around her seems to be able to do.



3 stars out of 5
Sarah Ditum
13 Feb 2021

"Frizzell writes frankly about the raw experience of maternity"

But these are tolerable annoyances and towards the end, where Frizzell writes frankly about the raw experience of maternity, the prose becomes fresh and incisive. Maybe that’s because she’s honestly writing about herself in this section, rather than offering herself as a stand-in everywoman. Unfortunately it’s also where the book stops because by positioning the panic years as singularly important — by suggesting that “huge things” cease to happen to us once our egg store has expired — Frizzell merely puts a fashionable new spin on the old idea that a woman is only as interesting as her reproductive potential.

3 stars out of 5
Eleanor Halls
13 Feb 2021

"one of the most gripping, beautiful and euphoric glimpses of motherhood that I have ever read"

Frizzell is at her best, however, when getting right under her own skin and digging out the twisted feelings of resentment, jealousy and shame that gnaw at so many women going through The Panic Years. She tells of how she howled with tears while watching the first dance at her best friend’s wedding and admits posting a glossed-up version of her child-free life to Instagram in the hope that exhausted new mothers would turn green with envy. Some women will shudder to see their darkest thoughts exposed so plainly on the page – but I imagine most will breathe a giant sigh of relief.

4 stars out of 5
11 Feb 2021

"Frizzell's book doesn't offer solutions to all the problems women face during their 'panic years'. But she does offer thoughtful companionship to those entering them."

Frizzell is great on the stress — and grief — felt by single, childless women when their friends get married and become pregnant. She got so drunk at one friend's wedding that she heckled the speeches and decided not to drink any more. She even cycled 20 miles out of London — in a suit and bright orange high heels — to another wedding before smoking on the lawn and cycling the 20 miles home. Her troubles didn't end when she fell in love with a wonderful man. It turned out he didn't want children. Eventually she talked him round, but it was a tearful process.

4 stars out of 5
3 Feb 2021

"compassionate and compulsive"

Frizzell’s compassionate, compulsive prose fizzes with imaginative humour and metaphor (although her careful citation of every possible perspective makes for an excess of lists). Yet I question the book’s timing. If you’re involuntarily single and child-free in lockdown, it may stoke rather than assuage anxiety, the danger of all fertility-lit – a thriving mini-genre, from Emma Gannon’s Olive to Sheila Heti’s Motherhood and Elizabeth Day’s How to Fail, the book that first set off my biological alarm clock.