Coming of Age: My Journey to the Eighties

Coming Fall 2018

Twenty-five years ago, Madeleine Kunin became the first woman to be elected governor of Vermont. She was U.S. ambassador to Switzerland and U.S. deputy secretary of education. This is her personal story.

Many readers are already familiar with Madeleine Kunin, the former three-term governor of Vermont, who served as the deputy secretary of education and ambassador to Switzerland under President Bill Clinton. In her newest book, a memoir entitled Coming of Age: My Journey to the Eighties, the topic is aging, but she looks well beyond the physical tolls and explores the emotional ones as well. And she has had an extraordinary life: governor, ambassador, feminist, wife, mother, professor, poet, and much, much more.

As recently reported in the New York Times, a girl born today can expect to live to the age of ninety, on average (boys, on the other hand, can expect to live until age eighty-five). Life expectancy, for many, is increasing, yet people rarely contemplate the emotional changes that come alongside the physical changes of aging. Madeleine wants to change that. Coming of Age: My Journey to the Eighties takes a close and incisive look at what it is like to grow old. The book is a memoir, yet most important of all, it is an honest and positive look at aging and how it has affected her life.

Praise for the work and writing of Madeleine Kunin
“As one of the first woman governors, Madeleine Kunin knows how to make history and chart a positive course for women.” —Ellen Malcolm, founder of Emily’s List

Advance Praise
“This book makes an important contribution to the literature on aging—and an original one.  It’s  unsurprising, somehow, that Madeline Kunin, so often a trailblazer in the public world, would mark new paths and stopping points down the path to a private old age. She’s an excellent guide and companion on our shared winding road.” —Nicholas Delbanco, author of Lastingness: The Art of Old Age

“When little girls visit the Vermont Statehouse at least they see one portrait that looks like them among those of Vermont’s Governors. Madeleine’s entire public life has been about making women’s experiences visible, inspiring the possibilities. With this deeply personal and heartfelt memoir she tells a private story that feels like our own. What it’s like as a woman to get old. It is full of humor, honesty and meaning. She is as good a poet as she was a politician. As readers, we experience the affirmation of sisterhood.” —Liz Bankowski, managed Madeleine’s campaign for Governor and has served in leadership positions in business and government

Coming of Age: My Journey to the Eightiesprovides a fascinating glimpse into the private thoughts and feelings of one of Vermont’s most distinguished public figures. Using a brilliant alternation of poems and essays, Madeleine Kunin manages to express the poignant emotions that many of us, her companions in the aging process, have been experiencing in silence. She portrays this final phase of life as one characterized by losses of all kinds, but illuminated by love of a profundity and complexity that would have seemed unfathomable to one’s younger self.  Anyone currently in this state of “coming-into-old-age” will find solace and new insights in this candid and moving memoir of a remarkable life, one lived largely and deeply.” —Lisa Alther, author of Kinflicks and Other Women

About the author

Photo by Paul Boisvert

Governor Kunin has written three previous books: Living a Political Life (Knopf), and The New Feminist Agenda: Defining the Next Revolution for Women, Work, and Family (New York Times Editor’s Choice) and Pearls Politics and Power. She has more energy than two 40-year-olds. She is currently James Marsh Professor-at-Large at the University of Vermont where she gives guest lectures on feminism and women and politics. She also serves onf the board of the Institute for Sustainable Communities (ISC), a nongovernmental organization that she founded in 1991, and she recently launched Emerge Vermont to encourage and support women in politics. She lives in Shelburne, Vermont.
Cover photo © Todd Lockwood.


180 pages; 5 x 7 / Hardcover with dust jacket
ISBN: 978-0-9994995-9-7
$21.95; HC; E-book/Audio to come

Publication Date: October 2, 2018
Distributors: Midpoint Trade, Ingram,  Baker & Taylor.
Rights sold: All rights available.
Rights Contact: Dede Cummings,

Advance reader copies, digital or print, available in April 2018.