My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Sum it up in a sentence (or two): Kate Bolick explores the dynamic of being single v being married while delving into five of her "awakeners," women who have guided her on her "spinster wish" quest.
First thoughts: This book wasn't what I was expecting. I wanted more of the preface/intro and less of the history lessons. (A common theme I've been noticing in my reading habits: I like the intros and the conclusions, but the bodies get too technically involved. Does this say more about me as a reader? Probably.) Hearing about Bolick's "awakeners" was interesting, but I didn't necessarily need/want to to know their life stories, I wanted hers.
Reflections: It's interesting to read how another person connects with literature (and to know I'm not the only one to feel such connections). I found myself continually comparing my feelings on being a single woman (albeit one in a committed relationship) to Bolick's desire for spinsterhood (which she redefines in order to include, yes, all women).
"Besides, I decided, isn't that how falling in love so often works? Some stranger appears out of nowhere and becomes a fixed star in your universe. My susceptibility to the seeming poetry of random chance is both blessing and curse." p9
"As always, the buildings of my youth were exactly where I'd left them." p9
"If you're lucky, home is not only a place you leave, but also a place where you someday arrive." p40
"Very deep down there was a kernel in me that thought maybe someday far in the future I'd want to read these failed attempts - as if they weren't trying to be poems after all, but cryptic letters to a version of myself I'd yet to meet." p45 (On poetic endeavors of her youth, and how I feel about the binders of old poems/stories I have.)
"How do you embark on your adulthood when you don't know where you're headed?" p45 (YES, EXACTLY! HOW?)
"Sharing an apartment with a roommate had at first felt refreshingly temporary, and then, eventually, unnervingly so, as if it were a way station to some indefinable, always-distant destination rather than an actual home." p188 (How does she know exactly how I'm feeling?)
"...everyone in my life had convinced me that you don't turn down a job until it's offered." p191
"When you're insecure about your appearance, trying to make yourself look better is a fraught endeavor. The home is a blank canvas, or empty vessel - a place where the will toward beauty can be expressed unchecked, without the messy complications of the self." p227
"When you're a writer, you don't want to waste your time or energy on people who require you to be social. She never sought that comfort. She sought independence, experience, and observation. She wanted to experience the world." -Yvonne Jerrod, Maeve Brennan's niece, on Brennan, p267
Awakeners: I love that Bolick has a "secret coven" of women writers to converse with. I do too, in my own ways. But that's not what I wanted to read about when I chose this book. I'm more interested in the personal aspects of the book - Bolick's own relationships, feelings on single life, hesitations about marriage, and the ways being single is challenging and different for women versus men, the same way marriage is also challenging and different for wives versus husbands.
Recommended for: Women, both single and coupled, writers and readers, champions of women's rights.
Final thoughts: Hmmm. Bolick makes me think. I definitely have my own "spinster" time (like right now, as I eat breakfast, read, and write this) and I love it, but I know that I'm meant to be with someone, to share a home and a life with someone (a man, my husband). I think the world needs a mix of both, really, and I say you go girl to all the self-chosen spinsters out there.
Editor's Note: I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.
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