Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own by Kate Bolick
You know a book is bad when so close to the end you simply cannot bring yourself to finish it. It becomes too tedious and you find yourself thinking ‘why am I wasting my life reading something that just leaves you more annoyed than anything else?’ Well. That was exactly what happened to me when it comes to “Spinster”. I managed to get to page 250 and I simply couldn’t go on. As much as I wanted to say I finished it, I feel like I’d read enough to give a full review of it despite not finishing it. After all, I took three pages of notes on just those 250 pages. None 0f which was good notes. And as I promised to give a honest review, I’m not going to pretend this is anything but honest.
The title of this book is a lie. The author goes on and on that Spinster is a horrible word that makes picture old crones of women. Well, maybe it does, but lets be honest in saying it at least means single women. Which two of the five women weren’t. They talked about wanting to be single but married and died married. All were at least shortly married. Some divorced and continued on with their lives. I believe at the very least these women should have been single for at least half of their lives to be considered in this category. Instead of the author just wanted strong women that talked the talk about being single while not actually being single themselves. That being the case, she probably should have named this book something else and gave it a different theme instead of Spinster. Maybe just ‘strong women that believed being single isn’t a bad thing’.
Title aside, that first chapter was a complete mess. It changed it’s thought process again and again and again and left you complete confused what the author was even doing. You go from her going to one of homes of one of the women she tells us about in the book to 40th birthday party back to this journey and then to these women. The imagery about the party was pretty but the writing was simply sloppy for someone claiming to have written for so many magazines and papers and having been an editor. It simply wasn’t enjoyable to read at all. It did improve, but just barely. It still continues to be messy and when it’s not, it reads very much like a textbook you’d read for school. I felt like I had to re-read things again and again in hopes to actually grasp the reading. But some times the sentences were just a complete mess, not me.
She liked to give statistics of single women at the times, but instead of taking in consideration that some of those women might have been gay and not just women that didn’t want to marry. This irked me to no end. She did finally admit that there were some gay women, but only to say that it was hard to tell which were gay and which weren’t due to the free love movement. All the same, it was almost like she didn’t want to admit such a possibility because it didn’t add to her story.
The author simply isn’t likeable. Maybe she actually is in life, but in her book, she truly isn’t. She liked to talk about herself as if she wasn’t part of the white and rich when she’s exactly that. She’s clearly from the higher middle class if not the lower upper class (her house is described as three floors). Her family vacationed in Maine by the ocean. Being from Maine I can tell you that only outer-staters that have money do this. We talk about these people and call them yuppies. And in her book she spoke in a very yuppie manner. She lived in good places in New York City, got jobs that only the rich can get. She talked about mental illness in a very ignorant manner of those who think when they’re blue is depression and want sympathy. I came to utterly dread reading the sections about her as a person. Because it became so cheesy there was no way that it was real, only re-imagined in way to sound more intelligent. No one quotes ‘Emma’ from memory word for word. Or qu0tes a ridiculously long poem from memory just because. It simply made the author seem like she was truly trying way too hard at that point and all it was resulting in was making me dislike her more. She pretended not to care about something such as home decorating only to spew about it for three (boring) pages and got a job in the field. The only person she was kidding was herself.
The women mentioned in this book are interesting women who produced interesting works in their own rights. If the book had focused solely on them, maybe I would have liked it. But it didn’t and there was too much in-between that made me give up on this book. I honestly got too tired to keep reading it, too frustrated. Maybe I’ll come back to them and read their histories somewhere else. But it’s not worth it in this book itself.
Rating – 1.5 stars (for the history sections)