“I’ve always known that a book will find you when you need to be found…”
When trying to pin-point how I came about this book, I decided to trace my internet searching steps back to a certain piece or key phrase I had found, but to no avail. The transient nature of a browser search should not be lasting, that might make life a little too convenient. Thus, all I can say is that I’m grateful I found this book and Kate Bolick’s writing. Though I am a happily married woman to a very lovable man, this book called out the the independent woman in me that has never been stifled by coupledom. I don’t mean this as an affront to the love I have for my life partner and our commitment to one another, but more as a compliment to the love I also have for myself and for the person I hope to be. The lifelong assignment of finding out what this life of mine means is a most unique gift and there’s not a day that passes wherein I don’t contemplate how I want to share it, who with, and what drives my mind and heart. Being cognizant of this, let’s take a look at Kate Bolick’s first book.
Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own by Kate Bolick
“In my early twenties, the “spinster wish” was my private shorthand for the novel pleasures of being alone. As I grew older, and felt more strongly the cultural expectation of marriage, the words became more like a thought experiment, a way to imagine in detail what it would look like to never settle down. The word wish is crucial. A wish is a longing, not a plan of action. It was perhaps precisely that I conjured such an escapist fantasy, not because I didn’t want such relationships, but because I also wanted to find other avenues of meaning and identity.”
Through honest yet discreet personal accounts, Bolick delivers a book that’s well-worth a read for anyone who’s ever questioned societal norms. It’s obvious from the carefully designed structure of her book that Spinster was a labor of love that flowed from a most genuine and natural place. Bolick utilizes different women writers–you’ll have to read her book to find out who they are–that she refers to as her ‘awakeners’ to unfold her thesis that a woman’s role in life is that for which she makes it, and the drudgery of societal impressions of marriage should never be a factor in marring your personal and artistic process of becoming a fully developed woman. What is more, though her text does speak directly to women, I happen to feel that her message could be palatable to any gender. Bolick embarks on a journey through this book that rarely transcends where she starts, but the text does anchor its message in taking comfort in one’s circumstance while being aware of its impact, be it good or be it bad, on one’s identity.
“The term bachelor girl was coined in 1895 to describe a specific breed of middle-class woman who chose to pursue the new educational and vocational opportunities opening up around her, which allowed her to live alone and support herself–so very unlike her sister the spinster, who was closely associated with the home, and the working-class women for whom work was an economic necessity.”
Is it all really just a matter of diction? What’s incredible about Bolick’s deductions about the term “bachelor girl”, versus “spinster”, is that she establishes the imposed separation of the terms while embracing a generalization that a woman in pursuance of her own life, independent of a man’s financial support, is whatever label she chooses for herself. Bolick does seem to struggle with absolving herself of guilt from passed relationships by qualifying her actions as those which were necessary to lead her on her path of independence. In this, I feel her concept is flawed. She posits that a woman must give something up in joining to a partner, yet bases this observation on her own experiences of becoming complacent in the routine of in-practice monogamy and her awakeners experiences. However, she juxtaposes this idea when speaking about becoming complacent and stale in her single life as well.
“How do you embark on your adulthood when you don’t know where you’re headed?”
“It was like looking into the future and discovering that my unremarkable self had somehow become a person of consequence.”
Finally, and what’s most moving about this book, is Bolick’s meticulous and attentive vision of the agony of self-discovery and the joy of finding one’s voice. She’s able to speak about feminine self-loathing without belaboring the point or projecting an heir of desperation, because, let’s be honest, if there’s one thing women need less of, it’s another voice that harkens negativity. Bolick’s well earned confidence is why she’s able to conjure a book that would surely have made her awakeners proud, and should make all of her readers grateful. Reading this book was a pleasure, and more than anything, it helped me understand that’s it’s okay to be joined in matrimony to someone and still have a singular identity. In fact, it’s imperative.
“It never ceases to astonish me how readily we presume to know ourselves, when in fact we know so little.”
As for edibles, I decided to utilize Sarah Britton‘s The Life-Changing Crackers to touch on the simplistic, yet enriching approach to food Bolick speaks about in her book. It’s not my intention to imply I think she would have any interest in preparing this cracker, but I do think this recipe represents an alteration in routine, which is just what Spinster speaks about. So here’s to crackers, life-changing crackers!
What are you thoughts on this text? Did you find that any particular yummy food ideas popped into your mind while reading? In the theme of changing routines, I am sad to say that the frequency of my posts has lessened as I’m sure you’ve seen, but please know that Connect a Bite is still very special and important to me. I have started a new and exciting job, and my routine has been sufficiently shaken. Fear not! Once the dust settles some, I hope to be back in full-force with content! And with that, I’ll leave you for now. Check out more Noshed in a Book posts and share some of your own #noshedinabook thoughts with me. Join me in my next reading selection, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. And remember…bite responsibly!