WOMEN ON DIVORCE: A Bedside Companion by Penny & Susan Spano--Eds. Kaganoff

WOMEN ON DIVORCE: A Bedside Companion

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KIRKUS REVIEW

D-I-V-O-R-C-E. If Tammy Wynette left you aching for more on the subject, turn to this highbrow literary collection of 14 essays by survivors and observers of what one contributor likes to think of as a ""spectator sport."" Embracing the public aspect of modern American divorce, the women writers represented in this collection (among them Carol Shields, Francine Prose, and Ellen Gilchrist) share their personal experiences as current or soon-to-be divorces. The undivorced offer their observations on the divorces that orbit their own marriages like potentially deadly satellites from another planet. Several Jewish women are forced to obtain a get (a Jewish divorce), whose ""archaic ritual proves more debilitating than the antiseptic American version."" A Catholic writer, Ann Patchett, vividly recounts her shock at coming face to face with the reality of the indissoluble Catholic marriage. Her essay ends with a confession of her dreams of institutionalized forgiveness in ""an eighth sacrament, the sacrament of divorce."" It is unfortunate that the editors (Kaganoff, a former editor of Kirkus, is currently a senior editor at Simon & Schuster; Spano writes a travel column for the New York Times) did not break free from their generally narrow group of contributors whose r‚sum‚s echo one another; testimony from Muslim or Hindu women would have added fresh perspectives. Interestingly, several points recur from essay to essay. The writers fear that divorced people may be doomed to repeat their mistakes (""Between them my two brothers have married five women who look like my mother""). There is a consensus of sorts that romantic love has led these women astray. Among the most interesting is the opinion of several writers that arranged marriages might be the best solution to the question of finding a mate. These are disillusioned women. True to its subtitle, this reads like a chatty, intimate, and frank conversation among women. If half your mattress is empty, take this book to bed.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1995
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Harcourt Brace