I recently purchased The Bitch in the House, by Cathi Hanauer. It is a collection of essays by women writers about marriage, motherhood, children, sex, and a myriad of other topics. Before I bought the book (it was an Ebay purchase) I checked out some reviews online; many were positive, but there seemed to be a common theme: most reviewers were disturbed by the fact that the book presented so many issues without offering possible remedies or solutions. I duly noted that fact and bought the book anyway. Now, halfway through it, I am glad that is doesn't attempt to offer advice or answers. For one, I wasn't looking for a self-help book, and for two, it leaves you free to draw your own conclusions, to form your own opinions. To freely compare these situations with your own. Some of the writers will note that they could have done things differently, offering hindsighted alternatives that might have eased matters. Others are decidedly unapologetic, simply stating the facts of their lives, unabashed and unembarrassed.
I won't say the book is good - not yet, anyway, but I will say that it is interesting. Some of the essays start to wear on you after a few pages, but I learned that you can't take that at face value - you never know what a page turn will bring. The scope of age, sexual preference, economic status and marital status varies from essay to essay (one of the authors is a Nobel-prize winning scientist). There are single women living alone, women living with men, women with multiple divorces under their belt, women married with children and staying at home, mothers working out of the home. This is not a good selection for the Baptist Women's Book Club - some of the tales shared include discussions of sexual relationships with other women, and lots of sex with men, some of them married (and not the to the author). There are women who became mistresses, women who have affairs, women in open marraiges. Of course, it isn't all about sex, but there's certainly a lot of it going on. Or, there's a lot of thought and discussion going on about it.
Even though some of these talented ladies have made decisions that I wouldn't necessarily have made, I still found myself identifying with many of them. I recommend the book, if you have time. Like I said, it's not great, but it's very thought provoking. Unless you are perfectly content and madly in love with your husband/wife/whatever, and have no qualms with your life or any aspect of it. Then you'll probably just find it bitter and whiny. And parts of it are bitter and whiny, but some fine points are made throughout. It will make you think. You will run the emotional gamut - you will sympathize, judge harshly, feel superior, feel ashamed, commiserate, be baffled and then completely understand. Women rock. Men are great, too, of course. The tone of the book is almost like a good, gossipy lunch with a friend, where you eat and drink and talk about your husband and your children and how the new guy at the gas station was flirting with you.
There is an undercurrent of feminism, which I'm cool with. The point is made, multiple times by multiple authors, about the desire to "have it all" and how having it all (the career, the husband, the children, the house and white picket fence) can sometimes be waaaaaaay too much, something I've felt and expressed a few times myself. I think I want to write my own essay, and I will post if it it doesn't turn out to be too personal-information-overloaded. But now that I'm done with my book review, I had better get some work done. To the coffee maker, and then to work! Talk to you all soon.