Alex Comfort: The Process of Ageing. Weidenfeld and Nicolson. 27s. 6d. Robert A. Wilson, md: Feminine Forever. W. H. Allen. 18s.

An earlier gerontologist, Ponce de Leon, in search of the Fountain Youth, stumbled upon Florida; his successors can hardly claim as much. Although most men today will live on into old age, no greater proportion of these will live into great old age. Fantastic reports from Georgia notwithstanding, there are no well substantiated reports of men living more than 113 years. In the state of our knowledge there are few reasons to believe we shall change this situation soon. As Comfort stresses, therefore, our priorities must be refashioned to enable men to enjoy the lagniappe years as fully as they may. As the average age of the population increases, it will have less and less patience with stairs, punitive pensions, compulsory early retirement, which are physical, social and welfare provisions designed for a community whose expectation was shorter.

Wilson’s thesis is that the menopause is a completely preventable evil and that by the administration of feminine hormones almost all its symptoms, except infertility, disappear. This is well known and is plainly desirable to some women. It is too soon to know what are the risks and whether they are justifiable. The preoccupations and intentions of the book are sympathetic; the more pity that the style is chatty and the text over-loaded with clinical office confidences.