The word virgin, minus the suffix intacta, originally meant not a biologically immaculate female, but one who chose the psychological autonomy of the unmarried state. So writes Margaret Adams in this ebullient, enlightening study of those--and particularly those women--who choose singledom, not out of failure or inadequacy, but because for them it is a better temperamental fit. Adams wants to honor this option and to cleanse it of the stigma applied by a marriage-minded society and its psychological apologists. More, she wants to explore the practical possibilities for social support, living arrangements, recreational activities, and vital relationships which may in fact already exist for single people, but which have not fully emerged into awareness simply because society does not recognize the single state as anything other than an uneasy interregnum or a resigned cul-de-sac. Networks of friendship and mutual aid, joint living arrangements that respect the sharers' independence, educational activities, the followship of the workplace all can and do make single life emotionally rich without threatening the options that marriage often curtails--especially for women: the freedom to change, to travel, to pursue one's interests and develop one's self. Adams believes the single-by-choice are people for whom intellect, imagination, creativity, and solitude have primacy over emotional intimacy, and she cites precedents from Amazon legend to the satisfied spinsters of her native England. She believes single women can pioneer not only more autonomous identities for all women, but also new social forms for everyone. For writing this book, she herself should be hailed as just such a pioneer.