THE IMPROVISED WOMAN by Marcelle Clements

THE IMPROVISED WOMAN

Single Women Reinventing Single Life
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KIRKUS REVIEW

What could have shed light on changes in the lives of post-Cosmo girls instead gets mired down by a rather disjointed writing style. When Clements first began researching this book in the early 1990s, there were 38 million single women. Now there are nearly 43 million, making single womanhood one of the most significant social trends as America approaches the millennium. It’s a trend that if better understood could dramatically impact our politics, economy, and, most importantly, our view of the sexes. Unfortunately, essayist and novelist Clements (The Dog Is Us, 1985; Rock Me, 1989) doesn’t shed as much light on this subject as it deserves. True, Clements, herself a single mother, does interview scads of women on everything from their feelings on sex and creating a home for themselves to their fears of dying alone and their (possible) regrets about not having children. Her method of presenting her information, however, is off-putting and confusing at times. She’s at her best in the beginning of each chapter, where she puts forth her basic hypotheses in essay form. It’s the following subsections where Clements’s work falls apart, as she quotes from various women, using little descriptions that are too cute or, worse, make no sense at all. For example, Abigail, a 37-year-old architect, “is an emotional see-saw adept.” Evelyn B.’s introduction states: “Despite the fact that she is a respected mathematician, Evelyn once had all the attributes needed to be a Class-A wife.” This is then followed by Evelyn’s short comment on how her friends’ husbands hit on her after she got divorced. Huh? Though this work is generally frustrating to read, Clements’s best work deals fruitfully with evolving new family patterns and her tracing of various historical contexts in which single women have found themselves.

Pub Date: June 15th, 1998
ISBN: 0-393-04643-5
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Norton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1998




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