Author(s): Kate Bolick
'Whom to marry and when will it happen - these two questions define every woman's existence.' So begins Spinster, a revelatory and slyly erudite look at the pleasures and possibilities of remaining single. Using her own experience as a starting point, Kate Bolick invites us into her carefully considered, passionately lived life, weaving together the past and present to examine why she - along with millions of women, whose ranks keep growing - remains unmarried. This unprecedented demographic shift is the logical outcome of hundreds of years of change that has neither been fully understood nor appreciated. Spinster introduces a cast of pioneering women from the last century whose genius, tenacity and flair for drama has emboldened Bolick to fashion her life on her own terms essayist: journalist Neith Boyce, essayist Maeve Brennan, social reformer Charlotte Perkins Gilman, poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, and novelist Edith Wharton. By narrating their unconventional ideas and choices, Bolick shows us that contemporary debates about settling down and having it all are timeless - the crucible upon which women have tried for centuries to forge a good life. Intellectually substantial and deeply personal, Spinster is a new kind of unreservedly inquisitive work of memoir and broader cultural exploration that asks us to acknowledge the opportunities that exist within ourselves to live authentically, unbounded - and to be savoured. 'I wish I could give this wise and subtle book to my thirty-year-old self; she would have taken heart ...Bold and intelligent' Rebecca Mead, author of My Life in Middlemarch 'A triumph' Malcolm Gladwell 'Women of the world listen here: drop whatever you're doing and read Kate Bolick's marvelous meditation on what it means to be female at the dawn of the 21st century' Joanna Rakoff, author of My Salinger Year 'Moving, insightful and important' Elif Batuman, author of The Possessed
Spinster is a triumph, a provocative and moving exploration of what it means for a woman to chart her own course. -- Malcolm Gladwell Kate Bolick brings a bracing feminist consciousness to bear on the lives of five unconventional women of the past and on her own young life in the twenty-first century. She writes about the dilemmas of love and work - then and now - with rare perspicacity and poignancy. -- Janet Malcolm Kate Bolick's Spinster will take your breath away. Writing with a bold vision and in incandescent prose, Bolick gives us a user's guide to going solo - and a gorgeous work of cultural criticism. -- Susan Cain, bestselling author of Quiet In Spinster, her wise and subtle memoir, Kate Bolick explores that freighted term-and the often-maligned woman to whom it is attached - and deftly, persuasively reclaims it. In telling the stories of her literary 'awakeners' - five vividly conjured women who escaped the conventional ties of marriage and family-and in elegantly weaving cultural history into her own personal progress to maturity, Bolick shows by argument and example that the single life is not a predicament to be escaped, but a distinctive, demanding, rewarding form of freedom. I wish I could give this book to my thirty-year-old self; she would have taken heart and inspiration from Bolick's bold and intelligent self-examination - not necessarily to follow her path, but to be tenderly reminded of this simple but easily neglected truth: that there is another way to want to be. -- Rebecca Mead, author of My Life in Middlemarch What happens when you don't get married? Setting out to answer this question, Kate Bolick has written a moving, insightful, and important inquiry into how women's lives are narrated - not just in poems, novels, biographies, and memoirs, but also in our own heads, every day, as we make the constant stream of decisions that constitute a human life. Ambitious in the best way, Spinster made me think differently about everything from novelistic plot to the meaning of furniture. -- Elif Batuman, author of The Possessed Women of the world, listen here: Drop whatever you're doing and read Kate Bolick's marvelous meditation on what it means to be female at the dawn of the 21st century. Part self-investigation, part social history, this utterly singular book reminded me, in its warmth and wit, of Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat Pray Love and Rebecca Mead's My Life in Middlemarch, but ultimately Bolick's restless, razor-like intelligence calls to mind none other than Betty Friedan. And like The Feminine Mystique, Spinster will make you re-think your entire life, if not radically change it. -- Joanna Rakoff, author of My Salinger Year and A Fortunate Age [A] powerful memoir...Bolick's intense and moving combination of personal, historical, and cultural narratives will inspire readers-especially women-to think about what they want their own lives to be, and how close they are to their goals. starred Publishers Weekly review Refreshingly bold and incisive... As Bolick traces her evolution into a woman unapologetic for her choices and unafraid of her own personal freedom, she also reclaims the derogatory word 'spinster' for all females, married or not... A sexy, eloquent, well-written study/memoir. Kirkus Reviews [starred] What's surprising about "Spinster" is how, in its charmingly digressive style, the book sets forth a clear vision not just for single women, but for all women: to disregard the reigning views of how women should live, to know their own hearts and to carve out a little space for their dreams, preferably a space with 11-foot ceilings. New York Times
Kate Bolick is a contributing editor to the Atlantic. She was previously the executive editor of Domino magazine. She lives in New York.