The Improvised Woman: Single Women Reinventing Single Life

Marcelle Clements, Author
Marcelle Clements, Author W. W. Norton & Company $26.95 (351p) ISBN 978-0-393-04643-4
Reviewed on: 06/01/1998
Release date: 06/01/1998
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-0-393-31953-8
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""Unmarried"" is an inadequate definition of the single woman, writes Clements in her well-grounded, seven-year study, which is sure to be much quoted. Single women, she concludes, ""are not only improvising their own present, and their own future, they are also role models for... nieces and nephews who can see now that there are alternatives to the Mom and Dad roles."" The 100-plus women Clements (The Dog Is Us) interviews from around the country range in age from their 20s to 90s; they include the divorced, widowed and never married, adoptive and birth mothers and those who have no children. The women work in a variety of fields and live in reasonable comfort. They are candid in discussing friendships that serve as family; finances; children; jobs; lovers or absence of (in this AIDS era, there seems to be minimal sex); and their homes (according to the U.S. Census Bureau, notes the author, 54% of single women living alone without children own their homes). Clements, a divorced Manhattanite with a 91-year-old mother and an adopted three-year old son, could have been more directive in some of her interviews and not allowed certain of her subjects to ramble, but she is wise, non-judgmental and patient as she gains the trust of these women, who appear to be as interested in this study as the author is--and as readers, especially other single women, will be. (June)
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