Spinster. Bag lady. Cat lady. There’s a perception in society that these words and concepts are synonymous, but they’re really not. Particularly when you look at the definition of what a spinster really is. According to Merriam-Webster, a spinster is a) a woman whose occupation it is to spin; b) an unmarried woman and especially one past the common age for marrying; or c) a woman who seems unlikely to marry. While preconceptions of what a spinster is often has negative connotations, the reality of the word is simply factual and neutral.
Kate Bolick’s Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own is part memoir and part social edification/commentary on the topic of the unmarried woman in her various renditions as applicable to Bolick’s own life. Spinster explores the possibilities that exist when remaining single while drawing upon and educating readers about Bolick’s “awakeners,” women from the last century who provided inspiration for living the unmarried life: journalist Neith Boyce, essayist Maeve Brennan, social reformer Charlotte Perkins Gilman, poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, and novelist Edith Wharton.
The book has a good combination of personal narrative and information about the lives of the female writers who played an integral role in Bolick’s single life. Readers learn much about the five awakeners in a manner that is entertaining enough to keep attention from drifting–particularly with the first-hand experiences that Bolick shares to relate to the information that she presents. The statements that Bolick makes throughout the text easily resonate with her audience and had me nodding along and (mentally) saying “yeah!” enthusiastically since I, too, have no inclination to marry (and please spare me your “you’ll change your mind” refrain) and enjoy the freedoms and opportunities of single life. While I realize that I was reading an ARC, there were still plenty of typographical errors yet to be addressed to have a nice clean read. And on a related note, there were moments when it seemed as if Bolick was repeating information that she had presented before [indeed, there was an instance of a duplicated paragraph in immediate succession, which had me questioning my sanity briefly].
Overall, I’d give this a 4.5 out of 5 stars.