5 Reasons Kate Isn’t Married
- As a child, her mother told her to wait to get married – do the things she wanted to do with her life, unencumbered by the responsibility of a family. But her mom died before giving her the directive to stop waiting.
- She’s convinced that she’s living the life her mother (and those who came before her) didn’t get to experience
- Her role models are single, or they were for some time, and she focuses on that part of their life to inspire herself.
- She thinks marriage and children will erase her identity – not based on her own experience but what she sees around her
- There’s a theory that most single people are really miserable and Kate is determined to prove them wrong.
Is Kate deluded? Or justified. After all, it’s her life, and she’s living the life she chooses. And isn’t that the point?
Kate is Kate Bolick, author of the part memoir, part novel, part history book called Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own.
Kate is in her forties, has had several boyfriends, some of whom she’s even lived with for several years, but she’s never filed for a marriage license, never registered for plate settings, never said “I Do”, never checked Married box on her tax return. So Kate considers herself a spinster, and sets out to convince the reader that she’s living on her own terms, fulfilling the dream of the women in previous generations who married early even if it wasn’t what they wanted.As a memoir, it is sufficient but not one I might have gravitated towards since, prior to reading this book, I didn’t know who Kate Bolick was (She’s the executive editor of Domino magazine, which I use to subscribe to).
As a history book, it’s a page turner for feminists. Bolick waxes poetic on real heroines, women who directed their energies at making the world a better place for other women, and this book brings to light many facts I wouldn’t otherwise know, like how the words Bachelor and Spinster has changed over the centuries.
But as a discussion of single women, and in fact centering on five well-known women who were single for a part of their lives but who did go on to marry, the subject seems incomplete.
In fact, as Ms. Bolick pulls quotes from journals written in her earlier life and compares her former thoughts to her present, Spinster reads as a woman’s act of self-discovery, finding her self in the middle of what she’s been taught, what she’s learned from her experiences, and coming to terms with the fact that she can choose something different from what she’s always wanted. Except, throughout the book, the writer doesn’t seem to change. She starts at nine with the message from her teacher that she’s not pretty, not pretty enough to be happily married, perhaps. The book ends with her in a long-term relationship with a younger man who doesn’t pressure her to do something she’s still not ready for. Marriage? Children? Moving on? And again, she’s following the physical footprints of one of the women who’s (temporary) singleness fascinates her. But she doesn’t seem to change from the knowledge that many of the women, after spending time singly, went on to get married. That singlehood is a temporary phase. That true companionship should enhance, not squelch, your life.
Spinster is, by no means, a complete discussion of all the reasons women remain unmarried in this generation. But Kate Bolick’s treatment of the subject, and her style of using her own experiences to illustrate the book, makes it a wonderful read from the opening line, which reads:
Whom to marry, and when it will happen – these two questions define every woman’s existence, regardless of where she was raised or what religion she does or doesn’t practice… these dual contingencies govern her until they’re answered, even if the answers are nobody and never.
Kate answers the questions herself in the final few chapters, saying her research on spinsters revealed that the question was no longer binary – whether to be married or single. Instead, she rejects the notion that the modern single woman, the present day spinster, lives within these poles, but rather beyond them, inhabiting a place no one knew existed, or acknowledged as a real place. If, indeed, Kate is making that life of her own in this newly-established country, this book is a hotel brochures, inviting women to vacation in spinsterhood to remember and reclaim the happiest times of their lives. That’s quite an invitation.
My 5 favorite quotes from Spinster: Making A Life Of One’s Own
- It never ceases to astonish me how readily we presume to know ourselves, when in fact we know so little. p.13
- If you’re lucky, home is not only a place you leave, but also a place where you someday arrive. P. 40
- I was elated and miserable simultaneously, laughing in the morning, crying by afternoon p.139
- When you find yourself at at yet another crossroads, sorting out your next best step, it’s as useful to know what you don’t want as what you do. P. 257
- We become adults by learning how to be responsible to ourselves, whether or not we’re married or have children. P.258
Note: I received a copy of Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. This gift, however, did not influence my perspective. I, myself, am unmarried and a few weeks ago, a man who didn’t like the way I failed to respond to his advances on the streets, got upset and called me a spinster. This book addresses a topic of great personal interest to me 😐
If you order a copy of Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own on Amazon, I also make a small commission, at no extra cost to you. Thanks in advance for your purchase 😀