Women Writers On Living Alone
Some books I've read on women living alone show such different lifestyles that they encourage the reader to find her own best life and live it. They go from living solo in the sprawl of 1936 New York, to a widow who sells her home in 2000 Bridgeport, Connecticut, to make a new life in a Paris apartment. How to live alone with style? Check them out.
LIVE ALONE & LIKE IT: A GUIDE FOR THE EXTRA WOMAN by Marjorie Hillis.
In 1936 this Vogue editor, preacher's daughter, and spinster had a twenty year career with the magazine which was unprecedented for that era. From this life she wrote a book challenging the prevailing social norm that a normal woman desired marriage. And would only live alone if left a spinster with no close family to serve as unpaid caretaker. This small book gave advice on how a woman living solo could make a very satisfying life for herself.
Her opinions were so unusual for the time that the delighted shock of women and stunned backlash of men and ministers made her famous. In the Thirties women were still expected to be married and be quiet. Marjorie spent her life living alone in a comfortable apartment, writing more books, and lecturing. And she had a good time doing it all.
THE EXTRA WOMAN by Joanna Scutts.
This cultural critic discovered Hillis's 1936 book and in 2018 published her own exploring "the revolutionary years following the Live-Alone movement". The Extra Woman reads easily as it traces Marjorie's busy life and its influence on writers through the next four decades.
Live Alone & Like It gave birth to bestsellers encouraging women to take charge of their own life, even while homemaking. Like Irma Rombauer's popular The Joy Of Cooking, also in the thirties, contrasting with Betty Friedan's decades later,The Feminine Mystique, both of which took for granted women's right to make their lives what they wanted them to be. Scutts shows how these four decades gradually grew into the women's social norm of choice in the modern world we live in today.
C'EST LA VIE by Suzy Gershman.
Gershman's experiences as a professional shopper for New York stores and her love of Paris shops and flea markets gave her the courage to sell her house and move there after her husband suddenly died. She discovered that visiting Paris and living there were two vastly different approaches to life. With finding an apartment and living there the hard part.
Her French was inadequate, her cooking in a ramshackle kitchen difficult, and her one sexual adventure with a French count not romantic or worth her effort at being a middle aged Cinderella. Suzy's C'Est La Vie is funny, her new Parisian life a parable of caution, and her admission that she skipped the depressing parts makes one wonder what was even worse.
LIVING ALONE & LOVING IT: A Guide to Relishing the Solo Life by Barbara Feldon.
This small volume, published in 2003, by Agent 99 of TV's Get Smart and the earlier Laugh-In ensemble is a step-by-step formula for growing out of a life dependent on having a man at the center of a woman's life for contentment.
She points out that marriage is not always the solution to loneliness. And sometimes is quite the opposite. Feldon gives practical ways to make connections with people other than romantic and advice on how to enrich a single life by balancing the social times with home alone solitude.
She also mines her over twenty years of singleness for the financial advice given her along the way by a savvy friend so that the later years of her life are comfortable and without worry. Her version of Living Alone & Loving It is worth reading as a blueprint for being smart and ending up laughing all the way to the bank.