Adorable, semi-witty book published in 1936 to help ladies live alone, either by choice or because of divorce/widowing/waiting for the right person. Hillis takes a scolding tone at times, “This business of making your own life may sound dreary–especially if you have a dated mind and still think of yourself as belonging to the Weaker Sex.” The entire table of contents looks like it’s written tongue in cheek: Solitary Refinement, Who Do You Think You Are?, Pleasures of a Single Bed, A Lady and Her Liquor, etc. There’s also a nice jab at the South, “There may still be those in Alabama who look upon an unmarried state as an affliction, but in New York it is at most a very minor ailment.”
Yes, you will have to figure out your bills, but you gain so much freedom! “You will be able to eat what, when, and where you please… The trick is to arrange your life so that you really do like it.” People won’t know what to make of you, what to do with you, so you’ve got to do it yourself and not wait for invitations. Most of the writing seems to be coaching unwilling ladies into the pleasures of living solo, including this list:
You don’t have to turn out your light when you want to read because somebody else wants to read. You don’t have to have the light on when you want to sleep, because somebody else wants to read. You don’t have to get up in the night to fix somebody else’s hot-water bottle, or lie awake listening to snores, or be vivacious when you’re tired, or cheerful when you’re blue, or sympathetic when you’re bored. You probably have your bathroom all to yourself, too, which is unquestionably one of Life’s Great Blessings… From dusk until dawn, you can do exactly as you please, which, after all, is a pretty good allotment in this world where a lot of conforming is expected of everyone.
Other advice includes saving money for a time when you won’t be working, use a budget, treat yourself to quality things especially when dining alone, if you’re interesting (or rich) you’ll have plenty of friends, how to entertain in a tiny space, and a variety of Q&As around the appropriateness of various actions (having a drink alone in a bar is acceptable but frowned upon). Oh, and a list of inexpensive things to do around NYC which hasn’t changed much in 80 years: movies, theater (well maybe ticket prices have skyrocketed), ethnic restaurants, poetry symposiums, organ concerts, skating in Central Park, swimming at the Y, Staten Island ferry, Bronx Park (botanical garden now?), walk the Brooklyn Bridge, Chinatown, library, lectures, The Met, The Museum of the City of NY, cheap opera tickets, art exhibitions.
Reco’d via the LA Review of Books skewering of Spinsters.