In Portrait of the Quince as an Older Woman, Ellen writes about her life in a world made alien with loss and absence. She acknowledges aging but also the pleasure of grandchildren and the recompenses of writing. Her poems explore the older woman's place in contemporary culture.
Reviewing the book in his Poetry Talk, Keith Parker wrote: "In many ways her new book is a hymn of praise to the older woman, toughened by the experience of life, but who can be burnished to rose. She exists, a contrast of sugar and pips, capable of enticing new forms, some with the promise of a 'honey kiss'. As you progress through the book so you progress through the stages of life that culminate in this woman of experience. ... Ellen Phethean has indeed the richness of the quince. This collection is generous, varied, intelligent, tolerant. But isn't this the Ellen Phethean we have come to know?"
Ellen Phethean's Portrait of the Quince as an Older Woman was picked by New Writing North for their Read Regional promotion 2015. "I'm absolutely delighted," she said at the time. "This is a great boost for my work and recognition for my publisher, Red Squirrel Press. I look forward to touring the region next year and meeting people who want to hear and talk about poetry and the writing process."
Portrait of the Quince as an Older Woman was reviewed for the Dundee University Review of the Arts by Beth McDonough, who said: "There are indeed big life and death issues here, but many of these poems also brim with sly humour, with witty observation. Consider the marvellous picture of the gathering of patients in the hospital grounds 'feet eaten by fluffy dogs', and again after all that fun, the delicious finish -
Imagine if one kept on wheeling
up the road, going home.
"Imagine indeed. Take that journey."