PERFECT HUSBANDS AND OTHER FAIRY TALES by Regina Barreca

PERFECT HUSBANDS AND OTHER FAIRY TALES

Demystifying Marriage, Men and Romance
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 A sassy gazetteer by Barreca (English and Feminist Theory/Univ. of Connecticut; They Used To Call Me Snow White, 1991) that explores the modern matrimonial state from all angles, kicking up plenty of facts, fictions, and jokes along the way. Barreca's avowed purpose here is to discover the ``differences between men's and women's beliefs concerning marriage, and, specifically, the role played by the husband.'' She starts by noting that, traditionally, ``becoming a wife was the most a woman could hope for in life whereas remaining single was more than a man could hope for,'' and she contends that most married men loathe Sundays (because it's the domesticity day). Men, Barreca says, haven't really changed much lately--for them, marriage still means bartering their freedom for ``a permanent address, regular sex, and home-cooked meals.'' Meanwhile, many men still lose interest in their wives as sex objects, seek younger wives (since women supposedly age faster than they do), and feel trapped by the sense that women like them best when they're invulnerable and evasive. And women, Barreca adds, also continue to marry for old-fashioned, unhealthy reasons--to find out who they are or to be taken care of. But ``monogamy doesn't mean loving your husband instead of yourself,'' quips the author, who goes on to say that the romantic myths that women cling to (like the Heathcliff/Linton dichotomy) prove to be inadequate equipment for real-life relationships. So what are a man and woman to do? Stop fantasizing and recognize that marriage isn't perfect, Barreca suggests. But her real purpose here isn't to prescribe or analyze deeply--it's just to hold the mirror up to marriage, which she does with good nature and her trademark wit. (Thirty-fived b&w photographs; ten line drawings)

Pub Date: Oct. 13th, 1993
ISBN: 0-517-59538-9
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Harmony
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1993