cover image Cutting Loose: Why Women Who End Their Marriages Do So Well

Cutting Loose: Why Women Who End Their Marriages Do So Well

Ashton Applewhite. HarperCollins, $24 (320pp) ISBN 978-0-06-017455-2

Calling an end to a marriage--and, by extension, to any intense domestic relationship--is a frightening prospect. But women who are thinking of ""cutting loose,"" or who have already done so, will take heart from this inspirational and informative study by Applewhite (Thinking Positive: Words of Inspiration for People with AIDS). Most divorced women thrive rather than suffer, according to the author. She reports that 75% of all divorces are in fact instigated by women and points to her own divorce, after 10 years of unhappy marriage, as an example. For her book, Applewhite interviewed dozens of women who had initiated divorces. She reached them through word of mouth, notices in various publications and letters to women's and divorce-related organizations. These women, whose stories Applewhite reconstructs artfully through narrative and first-person accounts, present their thoughts on legal representation, money, children, sex, therapy and new relationships after divorce. Applewhite contends that so many of her subjects are happy with their post-divorce lives, despite the pain of separating, because marriage is an inequitable institution that prompts wives to accommodate their husband's wishes at the expense of their own identity. But she is not anti-marriage, and says that many marriages ""please and fulfill their partners."" One caveat is the author's source pool: her interviews were largely conducted with middle-class and more affluent women. Certainly for that market, however, the nuggets of practical information about child support, financial protection, custody arrangements, etc. seeded within its lively text could make this book the golden guide that many women in troubled marriages have been searching for. (May)