A New York Times Book Review Notable Book"Whom to marry, and when will it happen--these two questions define every woman's existence." So begins Spinster , a revelatory and slyly erudite look at the pleasures and possibilities of remaining single. Read more...
A New York Times Book Review Notable Book"Whom to marry, and when will it happen--these two questions define every woman's existence." So begins Spinster, a revelatory and slyly erudite look at the pleasures and possibilities of remaining single. Using her own experiences as a starting point, journalist and cultural critic Kate Bolick invites us into her carefully considered, passionately lived life, weaving together the past and present to examine why- she--along with over 100 million American women, whose ranks keep growing--remains unmarried. This unprecedented demographic shift, Bolick explains, is the logical outcome of hundreds of years of change that has neither been fully understood, nor appreciated. Spinster introduces a cast of pioneering women from the last century whose genius, tenacity, and flair for drama have emboldened Bolick to fashion her life on her own terms: columnist Neith Boyce, essayist Maeve Brennan, social visionary Charlotte Perkins Gilman, poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, and novelist Edith Wharton. By animating their unconventional ideas and choices, Bolick shows us that contemporary debates about settling down, and having it all, are timeless--the crucible upon which all thoughtful women have tried for centuries to forge a good life. Intellectually substantial and deeply personal, Spinster is both an unreservedly inquisitive memoir and a broader cultural exploration that asks us to acknowledge the opportunities within ourselves to live authentically. Bolick offers us a way back into our own lives--a chance to see those splendid years when we were young and unencumbered, or middle-aged and finally left to our own devices, for what they really are: unbounded and our own to savor.
- ISBN-13: 9780385347136
- ISBN-10: 0385347138
- Publisher: Crown Pub
- Publish Date: April 2015
- Page Count: 308
- Dimensions: 1 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.15 pounds
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-02-16
- Reviewer: Staff
In this powerful memoir, Bolick, a cultural critic and contributing editor to The Atlantic, takes an unusual approach to telling her life story, by focusing on her five “awakeners”: great women of the past whose work and experiences inspire her to build the life she wants. Bolick learns from the example of essayist Maeve Brennan, columnist Neith Boyce, poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, novelist Edith Wharton, and social visionary Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Bolick delves into the history of her awakeners while rounding out each of their individual narratives with her personal experiences. She also reflects on current expectations of women and marital status, backing up her musings with a handful of statistics and facts. Bolick’s intense and moving combination of personal, historical, and cultural narratives will inspire readers—especially women—to think about what they want their own lives to be, and how close they are to their goals. Agent: Tina Bennett, WME. (Apr.)
Solitude and the single woman
More people live alone in America and more American women identify as single than ever before. Kate Bolick’s blockbuster 2011 Atlantic cover story, “All the Single Ladies,” ignited a conversation about how unmarried women are changing contemporary culture. In her thoughtful follow-up to that article, Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own, Bolick considers the deeper questions emerging from the statistics on single women. How do women (like Bolick, like this reviewer) who are working, living and aging alone construct meaningful, loving lives? How do we negotiate between solitude and community?
Spinster addresses these questions through a lively mixture of memoir and biography. Like many young bookish women, Bolick migrates to New York and journalism. In the aftermath of her mother’s early death, she finds female role models in a group of women she calls her “awakeners”: Edna St. Vincent Millay, Neith Boyce, Maeve Brennan, Edith Wharton and Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Each of these women struggled to become a writer, a struggle that sometimes felt like a stark choice between being professionally successful and being married. If the choice is less stark these days, the stakes are still high.
While the stereotypes of spinsters are mostly unflattering—cue the cat lady, the bag lady and Grey Gardens—Bolick’s Spinster offers a corrective through nuanced portraits of women who love and are loved, and who choose to place their work and their friends at the center of their lives. Engaging and informative, Spinster offers a decidedly non-“Sex and the City” portrait of the challenges and opportunities of single life.
RELATED CONTENT: Read a Q&A with Bolick about Spinster.