never married, over forty, a little bitter


In the end, however, perhaps the most compelling part of this long correspondence is de Beauvoir’s flawed humanity.  Already mid-life when her affair with Algren began, by the time the letters conclude, she is still a vibrant woman in possession of one of the greatest minds of her age, and yet she repeatedly dismisses her own sexuality as done-with, grandmotherly and passé.  Her insecurities about her womanhood play a far greater role than one having heard only the hype of this libertine trio might expect in limiting her future with Algren.

2012 in review

Thank you to my top commenters and to everyone who has been reading along!

If you feel comfortable doing so (and I understand if you don’t), in the comments section of this post please share your story, how long you’ve been reading, if you’ve found the blog helpful, if your feelings or situation have changed over the course of 2012, and/or anything else you think is relevant.


The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was viewed about 87,000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.


In preparation for reading The Horror of Love: Nancy Mitford and Gaston Palewski in Paris and London, I did a little research:

But why do the knives have to come out when it comes to the subject of maternity? Nancy’s “Waspishness” is attributed to her thwarting – she suffered miscarriages and a fertility-ending operation in her late thirties, at which time she divorced, moved to Paris, and became a fabulous success as a writer, fashionista and socialite. Debo dismisses this: “She didn’t have a real husband and children, just the writing, an empty sort of reward.”

Likewise, the married and childless-by-choice Woman, (Pam), took in two of Diana’s sons when their mother was in the lock-up. What thanks does she get? Honks attributes a completely unrelated perceived insensitivity (Pam “had no idea how ghastly prison really was, the lav, etc.”) to her lack of children. Diana sued Her Majesty’s Government for lack of heat, and with proceeds bought a mink coat to wear in jail.

Nancy comes in for the worst scalding. While I noted the novelist’s enthusiastic interest in her sisters’ offspring — full of praise, never jealous, sad or lamenting her own fate – the mothers cannot refrain from attributing her character flaws to barrenness. If she was difficult, my guess it was not due to Terminal Childlessness, but Oldest Girl Syndrome.

In the last batch of letters, Debo and Honks buck each other up, saying that they have their children, grandchildren and “greats” as comforts in old age. No doubt these offspring meant a great deal to the sisters at the end of their lives — they don’t get much mention earlier.

But Nancy left behind something to benefit the rest of the world — satire that transcends poisonous politics and laughs at her own snobbishness. Something, I’d venture, that continues to comfort quite a few other people in their old age. ~~~


‘If one can’t be happy one must be amused don’t you agree? ‘ Nancy wrote to a friend.  It could stand as the motto for her life.  She hid her deepest feelings behind a sparkling flow of jokes and witty turns of phrase, and was the star of any gathering.

Childless and unfulfilled in love she may have been, but Nancy found huge success as a writer. Her fifth novel, The Pursuit of Love (1945), was a phenomenal best seller and made her financially independent for the first time.


“Marriage has become a luxury good,” said Frank Furstenberg, a sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania.

Money helps explain why well-educated Americans still marry at high rates: they can offer each other more financial support, and hire others to do chores that prompt conflict. But some researchers argue that educated men have also been quicker than their blue-collar peers to give women equal authority. “They are more willing to play the partner role,” said Sara McLanahan, a Princeton sociologist.


I am a person who makes New Year’s resolutions, but they are not about improving myself per se as they are about things I want to try and do in the coming year.  One year, long ago, I resolved to make one new dish a week, which is how I taught myself to cook, creating a binder full of favorite recipes  along the way.  Another year, when I was growing tired of my city of residence, I decided I would go to at least one new place or event a week in order to make things “fresh” again.  I do find that the years can meld into one another with a “where did the time go?” feeling and that making resolutions helps me take advantage of the year ahead.

Taking pen to paper, I realized that I do have a year’s worth of “stuff” I’d like to do in this city, stuff that could keep me motivated and happy through next fall.  If I move back to my former city, I have a complimentary list of things I’d like to do there, but those things could wait another year.

I think whether I move this spring or the next fall now depends on how long I can cope with the workload at my job and whether things get better or worse in that area.  One thing it no longer seems to be depending on is whether I start dating someone or even if I do or don’t make more friends.  An interesting shift.