‘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 experience as a starting point, Kate Bolick invites us into her carefully considered, passionately lived life, weaving together the past and present to examine why she – along with millions of women, whose ranks keep growing – remains unmarried. This unprecedented demographic shift 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 has emboldened Bolick to fashion her life on her own terms essayist: journalist Neith Boyce, essayist Maeve Brennan, social reformer Charlotte Perkins Gilman, poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, and novelist Edith Wharton. By narrating their unconventional ideas and choices, Bolick shows us that contemporary debates about settling down and having it all are timeless – the crucible upon which women have tried for centuries to forge a good life.
Intellectually substantial and deeply personal, Spinster is a new kind of unreservedly inquisitive work of memoir and broader cultural exploration that asks us to acknowledge the opportunities that exist within ourselves to live authentically, unbounded – and to be savoured.
This is a very difficult review to write. On one hand, I loved Spinster; the historical element and the attention to detail is flawless. It is entertaining, bittersweet and a document that should be used in gender studies. I learned so much about key items in the evolution of women’s independence i.e. – the typewriter.
However, I found the premise that Kate Bolick felt akin to the five women that she admired a little annoying. She constantly went on about how she felt that they were her kindred spirits and how she wished for a life like her heroines. She portrayed herself as a little girl lost, trying to find some understanding about what she wants; she wants to be a spinster but she keeps falling for inappropriate men or she falls for the right one but then pushes him away because the relationship doesn’t live up to the literary ideal that she has created in her head.
You want to scream at Bolick that real life isn’t like that. Relationships aren’t like that. You can’t have it both ways. She came across as selfish and also like a self-saboteur.
The thing is that I really liked Kate Bolick’s writing style. I thought it was a really clever and interesting book. I think that Bolick chose some really interesting women to worship. I just didn’t like the ‘grasping at straws element’ to make her life exactly like those that she revered.
Overall, Spinster is an interesting read but the biographical element was a bit too much for my personal taste.
Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own by Kate Bolick is available now.