Season 7

Wednesday 22nd March  2023
Anya Bergman
The Witches of Vardø
They Will Not Burn 

To kick off the NEW season of The Merry Menopause Bookclub Podcast, I am delighted to have as my guest Anya Bergman author of best selling novel The Witches of Vardø. 

In this episode, Anya shares her fascinating research on the real-life accounts of three women – Ana, Ingeborg, and Maren – who fought for survival during the brutal Witch trials on the remote Norwegian island of Vardø. She gives us a glimpse into her research process, which involved living in Norway and studying the records of the Finmark Witch trials of 1662/1663 to gain a deeper understanding of what happened on Vardø at that time.

Anya sheds light on the tensions in Norway and Denmark in this period of history,  with much of the blame falling on the devil and his Witches for the economic situation and an explanation for violent and misogynistic behaviour. She explains how the masses genuinely believed in the devil and his Witches and how they were seen as agents of terror that needed to be eradicated.

We also discuss the link between Scotland and Norway and how Scotland ‘exported’ Witch hunts to Norway and Denmark and the brutality of the torture of women during the trials, which led them to denounce each other.

In her depiction of the fascinating Ana Rhodius, Anya challenges the Menopausal stereotype and portrays her as a complex and multifaceted character. Love her or hate her, you as the reader get to decide.

Finally, Anya tells us about the remarkable memorial to the Witches built and funded by the Norwegian state on the execution site in Vardø. This episode offers valuable insight into a dark chapter of history. It highlights the importance of reclaiming the voices of innocent women and the need to remember and acknowledge the atrocities committed against them.

To all my fellow Witches out there, I hope you enjoy listening. 
Jo 🙏🏻


Anya’s book choice

Devotion by Hannah Kent 


You can find out more about Anya Bergman here


Wednesday 29th March 2023
Fran Littlewood
Amazing Grace Adams
Grace Adams is One Bad Day Away From Saving Her Life 

My guest today is Fran Littlewood author of the best-selling novel Amazing Grace Adams. A story of the rollercoaster ride of Perimenopause which explores love, loss, motherhood, female rage, shame, self-blame, and the societal pressure of perfection.

Join myself and Fran, a former Times Journalist and mother of three teenage daughters as we discuss:

  • The plot of Amazing Grace Adams and how it relates to the experiences of women who feel overwhelmed by their many roles and responsibilities. Fran shares her personal experience with perimenopause, including the “terrible itch” and the importance of advocating for oneself in medical settings.
  • The clash of teenage and midlife hormones and the impossible standards women are expected to uphold. Fran talks about the almost “comedic clash” of these two hormonal stages and the societal pressure to be perfect.
  • The grief and past trauma that can surface during perimenopause.
  • The struggles of parenting a teenager caught between childhood and adulthood. Fran talks about the challenges of navigating this no man’s land when your child suddenly becomes a stranger.
  • Losing control or taking control? The differences in expectations for men and women and the legacy of our mothers.

Fran’s book choice is Wandering Souls by Cecil Pin which has been shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2023.

Want more Fran? You can follow her on Twitter

If you enjoy this episode please like and subscribe to the podcast and leave a review, it really does make a difference and helps other listeners to find me. Thank you, Jo.

Wednesday 5th April 2023
Matt and Sarah Davies
You, Me and the Space Between Us
How to (Re) Build Your Relationship

My guests for this episode are the authors of You Me and The Space Between Us, married couple Matt and Sarah Davies .

Matt is a marriage counsellor and psychosexual and relationship therapist, and Sarah is a movement and somatic coach.  

Combing both their areas of expertise, You, Me and The Space Between Us is a blend of personal narrative and expert advice, written with empathy and warmth. It is a book for anyone who is struggling with their relationship. I LOVED IT and would highly recommend whatever your relationship status, I guarantee you will learn something to make your relationships better. 

Join us as we discuss:


What is ‘the space between us’ and how working with it can improve our relationships

How the space between us, is about the ‘us’ not the ‘you or me’

Why relationships are difficult

Vulnerability in relationships

When to ask ‘what does the relationship need” rather than what do I need?

How we can lose sight of ‘we’

How to stop an argument – play the game of ’switching sides’

How to avoid your relationship becoming boring and sexless

Why people have affairs and the role of the patriarchy

How to sustain a relationship after the honeymoon period

How it’s possible to have both freedom and longevity in a relationship

Simplifying attachment styles – The Octopus and The Turtle

Why good conflict is vital for a long-lasting relationship

Stop looking for perfection – embrace the 80/20 rule 

Desire and sex in midlife

Are you a couple who has sex or a sexy couple?


Matt and Sarah’s book choice – Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski


If you enjoy this episode please like and subscribe to the podcast and leave a review, it really does make a difference and helps other listeners to find me. Thank you, Jo.

Wednesday 12th April 2023
The C* Word (Confidence)
Make Friends with Fear and Build Confidence from the Ground Up

I am joined for this episode by the fabulous Mel Schilling. Human behaviour and performance specialist and Married at First Sight relationship expert Mel Schilling talks to me about her new book The C* Word.

Mel draws on her 20-year background in psychology, with this empowering and practical guide to making friends with our fear, tackling imposter syndrome and building the skills of confidence to enhance every aspect of our lives. 

Join us as we delve into:-

  • How can we rebuild our confidence in midlife. 
  • Brain fog and hot flushes – two of the biggest reasons that so many of us lose our confidence. Mel openly shares her experience of both of these whilst filming live TV. 
  • How humour can be a great asset in re-building confidence 
  • Mel opens up about her own journey with brain fog and her decision to start hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to manage it.
  • We discuss coaching techniques that can help overcome brain fog, anxiety, and hot flushes, particularly when dealing with presentations or public speaking.
  • We explore self-worth in midlife and the feeling of invisibility that many of us experience during this phase of life. 
  • Addressing negative self-talk and techniques to re-wire our brains and be kinder to ourselves. 
  • Mel reveals how our body has an identical response to “I am scared” to “I am excited” and how to recognise these feelings and make them work to our advantage. 
  • Midlife dating advice from the expert! Mel gives me her expert advice on navigating midlife dating – which apps to use, getting clear on dating goals, recognising ‘red flags’, and the difference between ‘deal breakers’ for a relationship vs personal preferences. 
  • Are you dating un-cooked men too?!
  • Mel shares her own experience of online dating, where she met her husband. 

Mel’s Book recommendation – Great Sex Starts at 50 by Tracey Cox. 


Follow Mel on Instagram


Wednesday 19th April 2023
Kate Baily
Love Your Sober Year
A Seasonal Guide to Alcohol Free Living

For this episode I am joined by Kate Baily co-founder of the Love Sober platform and author of ‘Love Your Sober Year.’

Kate coaches women to feel empowered by their choice to stop drinking alcohol, harnessing their decision to go sober and pivot from surviving to thriving in all areas of their lives using a holistic approach to growth, mindset and wellbeing.

Join Kate and me as we talk about both of our sober journeys during Perimenopause including:-


  • Perimenopause and alcohol.
  • The important distinction between ‘what looks normal’ socially vs ‘what feels normal’ to us. 
  • Alcohol and motherhood.
  • Alcohol as a coping tool.
  • The mental impact of alcohol.
  • How we build better lives and get rid of alcohol if it’s costing us more than money.
  • Why  we need to be asking ourselves better questions so we can meet our own needs. 
  • The comparison between alcohol today and valium in the 60s.
  • The stigmatism around women and alcohol, but not so much men and alcohol.
  • Judgement
  • The marketing behind alcohol, it’s not a coincidence, that next to the back-to-school promotion there will be a wine promotion. 
  • Calling out social BS –  to access our personal power, we need to call out the cultural narratives around us.
  • Calling out brain fog! 
  • If you are struggling with alcohol you are not alone 25 billion people are also struggling with alcohol. 
  • What is sober curious?
  • How the language around alcohol and addiction has changed
  • Getting in touch with our values is the groundwork for a different relationship with alcohol.


Kate’s book choice  – If Women Rose Rooted, by Sharon Blackie


You can find out more about Kate here

Wednesday 26th April 2023
Kim Vopni
Your Pelvic Floor
A Practical Guide to Solving Your Most Intimate Problems

My guest for the final episode of S7 of the podcast is Kim Vopni aka @thevaginacoach. Kim is a speaker, women’s health educator, coach and Menopause support practitioner.

She is also the author of the bestselling book Your Pelvic Floor which was The Merry Menopause Bookclub pick in February. 

Menopause can bring several changes to the body, including pelvic health issues. Join us as we discuss:-

  • The Importance of Pelvic Floor Health: Kim emphasises the importance of pelvic floor health and how it’s often overlooked until something goes wrong. She encourages women to take a proactive approach to their pelvic health by seeking education and treatment early on.
  • Signs of Pelvic Floor Dysfunction: Kim explains common signs of pelvic floor dysfunction, including incontinence, prolapse, and pain. She stresses that these issues are treatable and encourages women to seek help from a pelvic floor physiotherapist.
  • The Link between Pelvic Health and Back Pain: Kim shares that 95% of women with lower back pain have a pelvic floor issue. She also shares her mother’s journey with pelvic floor issues and how working with a physiotherapist at age 77 avoided surgery.
  • Strategies for Proactive Pelvic Health: Kim suggests three strategies for proactive pelvic health during menopause: seeking treatment from a pelvic floor physiotherapist, doing pelvic floor exercises, and training the pelvic floor to respond to movement rather than static positions.
  • Understanding Overactive Pelvic Floor: Kim explains that pelvic floor dysfunction can also result from an overactive pelvic floor, which can cause tightness rather than weakness. She notes that seeing a pelvic floor physiotherapist can help women understand the status of their pelvic floor and develop appropriate treatment plans.
  • Living a Pelvic-Centric Lifestyle: Kim provides practical tips for living a pelvic-centric lifestyle, including staying hydrated, avoiding bladder irritants, and understanding the importance of vaginal PH and its relationship to UTIs.

Kim’s Book Recommendation – Next Level by Stacy Sims. 


You will find The Merry Menopause Bookclub on your favourite podcast platform. Please like and subscribe, it really does make a difference. 

Wishing you a Merry Menopause