STARRED REVIEW
May 2015

Solitude and the single woman

By Kate Bolick
More people live alone in America and more American women identify as single than ever before. Kate Bolick’s blockbuster 2011 Atlantic cover story, “All the Single Ladies,” ignited a conversation about how unmarried women are changing contemporary culture. In her thoughtful follow-up to that article, Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own, Bolick considers the deeper questions emerging from the statistics on single women. How do women (like Bolick, like this reviewer) who are working, living and aging alone construct meaningful, loving lives? How do we negotiate between solitude and community?
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More people live alone in America and more American women identify as single than ever before. Kate Bolick’s blockbuster 2011 Atlantic cover story, “All the Single Ladies,” ignited a conversation about how unmarried women are changing contemporary culture. In her thoughtful follow-up to that article, Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own, Bolick considers the deeper questions emerging from the statistics on single women. How do women (like Bolick, like this reviewer) who are working, living and aging alone construct meaningful, loving lives? How do we negotiate between solitude and community?

Spinster addresses these questions through a lively mixture of memoir and biography. Like many young bookish women, Bolick migrates to New York and journalism. In the aftermath of her mother’s early death, she finds female role models in a group of women she calls her “awakeners”: Edna St. Vincent Millay, Neith Boyce, Maeve Brennan, Edith Wharton and Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Each of these women struggled to become a writer, a struggle that sometimes felt like a stark choice between being professionally successful and being married. If the choice is less stark these days, the stakes are still high.

While the stereotypes of spinsters are mostly unflattering—cue the cat lady, the bag lady and Grey Gardens—Bolick’s Spinster offers a corrective through nuanced portraits of women who love and are loved, and who choose to place their work and their friends at the center of their lives. Engaging and informative, Spinster offers a decidedly non-“Sex and the City” portrait of the challenges and opportunities of single life.

RELATED CONTENT: Read a Q&A with Bolick about Spinster.

This article was originally published in the May 2015 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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Spinster

Spinster

By Kate Bolick
Crown
ISBN 9780385347136

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