A debut autobiography commemorates a four-decade marriage that ended in divorce but opened the way for a new relationship.
Raised in 1950s Quebec, Bruce had romantic notions about marriage. At McGill University, she went on a blind date with Peter Scott, whom she would marry in 1968, at age 22. As sexually liberated as the ’60s are reputed to be, Bruce was sheltered and didn’t know what to expect. “Having married at such tender ages, we basically grew up together,” she explains. Within three years, they had two children. The family moved from Canada to Sydney, Australia, for Peter’s work. Bruce undertook graduate studies in counseling and intermittently served as a research assistant or math and physics teacher. Peter’s drinking was a persistent, low-lying worry, eventually landing him in rehab. However, it hit her with the force of an earthquake when Bruce saw her husband with another woman in 2009. This was Serena, an Alcoholics Anonymous friend, and despite marriage counseling, he left to be with her. At the time of their separation, the couple had been married 41 years. While earlier sections seem like mere rundowns of facts, the book comes alive at this point, as Bruce explores her loneliness and midlife re-creation. “I felt like a toddler, learning to walk and figuring out my identity,” she writes. She captures her situation with insightful details that might not occur to outsiders, like the challenge of cooking for one. Her adventures in online dating become repetitive, but before long she met Chris, who proposed on a trip to Arizona in 2013, exactly three years after she signed her separation agreement. Rather than the expected bitterness or gloating (when Peter split from Serena after a few years), Bruce expresses gratitude for her ex-husband’s actions because she has now found “the love of my life and—even more importantly—myself, my own strength.” But she is realistic about life’s imperfections as well as her own and her new partner’s shortcomings.
Impressively down-to-earth and upbeat, this memoir recounts making the most of disappointments.