FABULOUS AT 50...REALLY!

ISABEL ALLENDE, 55

The most recent book of the Chilean-born author (The House of the Spirits) is Paula, a memoir based on the death of her only daughter at age 28.

When I reached 50, I couldn't celebrate. It was the same year that my daughter was dying. I was totally absorbed with what was going on, and I didn't even notice my birthday. But when we reach this age, we become witches in a way, good witches. We have wisdom, we have a network, we have a sort of secret strength that we can use for good causes. We...