Spinster, by Kate Bolick

-1Back in May I had the pleasure of meeting Kate Bolick, however briefly. She was one of 15 authors participating in Ladies First, an event organized by ladyfriend at this year’s Book Expo America . I wanted to meet Ms. Bolick because I had read her much-talked-about article All the Single Lades. I was intrigued by the article because I had long contemplated the single life from a male perspective—as you age, the stock character of the “crazy uncle” becomes ever more personal—and Bolick’s story about the female view inspired what has become a thread in the current draft of the sequel to HANGMAN’S GAME that I am currently (and optimistically) at work on.

In her new book Spinster Ms. Bolick goes deeper into the topic and, as the cover suggests (that is her in the photo), she aims to redefine the image of the single woman. Spinster is part memoir and part historical examination, as Ms. Bolick reports on American women writers who have, as far back as the late 1800s, fought against the notion that a woman’s life is defined by whom she marries, and when.

As I was reading Spinster, I shared notable moments or tidbits—and this book has many—with my lady friend. (This happens with just about every book I read, whether the ladyfriend likes it or not). As I approached the end of Spinster, I joked to her: “I can’t wait to find out if she doesn’t get married.”

I mention the joke not just because I found it amusing, but because I think it hits on something that will remain tricky for the spinsterish of either gender, and it is the stories that we tell ourselves. Whatever else marriage provides, it appears to tie up a narrative (“happily ever after,” etc.). Spinster is a thought-provoking attempt to build a counter-narrative, but it is a counter-narrative without an ending. The road goes on forever, and you end up as the protagonist in an Allman Brothers song.

That’s not for everyone.

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