source: free review copy via LibraryThing
title: Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own
author: Kate Bolick
published: April 21st 2015 by Crown
rated: 4 out of 5 stars
“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.
Where to begin?
I acquired an ARC of Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own by Kate Bolick via LibraryThing back in 2015 and as I have mentioned on my blog recently, I am really trying to get through all my review books this year. So I happily grabbed this one off my shelves and I dove right in. Isn’t the cover pretty?
I have to say straight away that Kate Bolick is a talented writer and that I loved her writing style. She drew me right in, especially as she wrote about her love of being alone and of reading and of books and about her literary heroines. I enjoyed reading about her work as an editor and book reviewer and her New York City life as well.
“I’ve always known that a book will find you when you need to be found; in New York I learned that so did history.”
p.65, Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own by Kate Bolick
Bolick uses five authors who inspired her throughout her life. I could relate to her finding herself through her literary heroines. However, the title Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own is a little misleading because the author nor the five women she mentions remained single all of their lives and some were married at one point. She says she considers women to be spinsters if they are single because of divorce or being widowed and not just those who have never wed. The author uses examples throughout history about the struggles women have gone through. About the way some things have changed, yet how some things stay the same.
“The term spinster follows an inverse trajectory. It originated in fifteenth-century Europe as an honorable way to describe the girls, mos of them unmarried, who spun thread for a living-one of the very few respectable professions available to women. By the 1600s the term had expanded to include any unmarried woman, whether or not she spun.”
The five authors that inspired her are Neith Boyce, Maeve Brennan, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Edna St. Vincent Millay and Edith Wharton. I recognized all but Boyce and Brennan and I googled all five ladies to find out a little more. Bolick does a great job at writing about these women and some of the struggles they went through as well as their accomplishments and how they influenced her. She even visited some of the places these women frequented and she spoke to one of Maeve Brennan’s family members.
Bolick really followed her own path in life. It seems like she never let herself get too comfortable and I can respect her for that. She also candidly discusses her mother passing away from cancer and the role her mother played in her life.
“I’d never been alone in my life. As in, truly alone, made to reply solely on myself for a substantial stretch of time. Obviously I was independent; independence was my generation’s birthright. By the time my mother was my age, she was married with a full-time job and two small children and no time to pursue her hope of becoming a writer-in comparison, I was liberty incarnate.”
Overall, I enjoyed Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own very much. I didn’t care that the title mislead a little. It had me up late one night reading even though I had to be up early for work the next morning. I could have read this one in a single sitting if it hadn’t been for daily obligations. And speaking of spinsters, two of my favorite writers never married, Jane Austen and Emily Dickinson.
I found that the message the author was getting across here was that whether you are married or single, divorced or widowed, it doesn’t matter, follow your passion and make your own path in life. If something doesn’t feel right for you, then rethink it and don’t settle. I recommend this one.
Disclaimer: This review is my honest opinion. I did not receive any kind of compensation for reading and reviewing this book. I am under no obligation to write a positive review. I received my copy of Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own via LibraryThing.
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