Meh. Collection of essays from women aged 39-69 about their experiences with love, sex, marriage, children; a reprisal from the original The Bitch in the House which was a similar collection of essays fifteen years ago. It was fairly tiresome to read essay after essay about how women felt so great when they left their husband, and then oh joy! found love again with another man, or how their children mean so much to them but they are strong independent ladies, yadda yadda.
The only essay I really enjoyed was Pam Houston’s Five Crucial Things the Fifty-Three-Year-Old Bitch Knows That the Thirty-Nine-Year-Old Bitch Didn’t (Yet). I mean how could I not when she starts off the list with “One: I really like (crave, need, require) being alone.” She also gives a killer line about misanthropy: “It strikes me that I sound a little misanthropic, but mild misanthropy may simply be a thing intelligent women of a certain age grow into.” #2: Being smart isn’t the only thing or really much of a thing at all. Wisdom/being present is more important. “Three: I don’t care what men think of me anymore.” Hells to the yeah, Pam. She elaborates:
This is the most surprising and most drastic change of all, and my sudden lack of interest in what a man, in what any man, thinks of me is such a profound and complete change from earlier in my life that I have to believe it is hormonally assisted… Where did all those desperate longings [to have men love me] go? Down the dark disappearing rivers of estrogen and progesterone? Or did the life lessons accumulate to some critical mass where it finally sank in that men, by and large, demand more care and attention and daily propping up than dogs, and only the very best of them give a dog’s worth of love back?
She has an eight year relationship via long distance with a man that she also says helps her in this regard. #4 is that wanting to stay alive is the world’s most powerful motivator (she lost weight & got healthy during a cancer scare). Last, #5: generosity is its own reward. Fantastic essay, and almost worth me slogging through the rest of the book to see if there were any other gems (there weren’t).
Northampton, MA’s local slogan, “where the coffee is strong and the women are stronger” makes me want to check it out (it’s near Smith College, lots of strong ladies).