Johnson, a contributing editor to New Woman, examines a question that many often answer with skepticism if not outright cynicism: Can a marriage be truly happy and remain so for a lifetime? Johnson claims to have been skeptical herself at first, though as a wife and new mother she wanted to be convinced. The 60 happy couples she found (out of 100 respondents) persuaded her that the dream was attainable. Here, she presents general characteristics common to most of these ``vital couples'' (``Happy couples establish and follow productive daily routines''; ``It is essential not to take any major action that you will have to keep secret from your mate''), which she then illustrates with examples from her interviews. These brief observations form a helpful checklist that readers can use to monitor the vital signs of their own relationships or to define goals for improvement. There are few real surprises in Johnson's findings; perhaps the most unexpected is the extent to which children, even wanted and loved children, can strain a marriage. Other revelations may, in the author's opinion, cause chagrin among feminists: that thriving romances seem to be built on a sense of the man's being ``superior,'' strong, and dominating—but only in the realms of sexuality and fantasy—and that, in a good marriage, distinctions between spouses blur as, in important ways, husband and wife meld into one entity. Fighting, sex and fidelity, work and finances, and coping with tragedy are other subjects on which Johnson sounded out her respondents. Anecdotal rather than scientific, and based on a limited sample of mostly white, middle-class, conventional people. Nonetheless, many should find this heartening.

Pub Date: March 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-670-84354-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1992

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

Did you like this book?


Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet