Coming of Age: My Journey to the Eighties

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

Listen to Madeleine interviewed by Jane Lindholm on Vermont Edition.

Former Gov. Madeleine Kunin discusses her new book about aging, how age changes us in body and spirit, and women in politics.

Burlington Free Press Interview:
“I’ll be honest: I wasn’t sure what to expect from a book about aging. But Madeleine Kunin’s new memoir made me cry.” —April McCullum, Vermont politics and government reporter for BFP News

VT Digger:

“With Coming of Age, Madeleine May Kunin continues in her role as bearer of light for women everywhere. This time, she holds the lantern while walking gracefully, passionately and authentically toward her final years. Like the woman herself, Kunin’s memoir is exquisite.” —Vermont Woman (link to full article)

WCAX Channel 3 Newshour Interview:

Madeline Kunin has done it all. Three terms as Vermont Governor, stints as U.S. deputy education secretary and ambassador to Switzerland.

Her latest achievement is a new book, “Coming of Age: My Journey to the Eighties.” It looks back at her life as a leader in state and national politics.


“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

“With this deeply personal and heartfelt memoir she tells a private story that feels like our own.” —Liz Bankowski, managed Madeleine’s campaign for Governor

“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

“Once again, Madeleine Kunin breaks ground for us. Among her many titles, we can also add: wise woman with a poet’s soul, a writer’s art.” —Julia Alvarez

“We are lucky to have such insight from this author in her highly readable and relatable book. . . . From her we garner lessons such as cherishing the moments we have left, letting go of things, of vanity, of grudges, and smiling. Smiling like her photo that adorns the book cover, displaying the proud wrinkles of her time and life.” —NY Journal of Books

“In this slender volume, former Vermont governor and U.S. diplomat Kunin contemplates the process of aging, its physical and emotional tolls and its surprising joys. She reflects on a life’s accomplishments and offers a wise woman’s meditation on dying and living.”  —Ms. Magazine


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.


200 pages; 5 x 8 / Hardcover with dust jacket
ISBN: 978-0-9994995-9-7 (Cloth)
ISBN: 978-1-7328540-8-6 (PBK)
$21.95; Hardcover with black & white photos
$18.95; Softcover with black & white photos
E-book: Available on NOOK, Amazon, Overdrive & at your local bookstore
Publication Date: October 2, 2018 (Cloth)
Publication Date: November 22, 2019 (Paperback)
Distributors: IPG/Independent Publishers Group
Rights sold: All rights available.
Rights Contact: Dede Cummings,

Distributor: IPG; also available through Follett/Baker & Taylor, Ingram, and other wholesalers.
Individuals can pre-order directly from, or contact your local, independent bookstore.
Booksellers, libraries, colleges/universities, gift shops, etc., can order through IPG:
Independent Publishers Group
814 N. Franklin Street
Chicago, IL 60610
Order Placement: (800) 888-4741

To request an advance reader copy—digital or print—email