never married, over forty, a little bitter


Warner exquisitely captures the torture of wanting something different, something more, but being aware that anything “more” or “different” will only ensure that you find yourself completely shut out. And moreover, that you will feel bad about it yourself because you have failed in some way.

Being a person, in this world, is a failure. It is a failure to be always and ever living up to what one should be doing, which, after all, as Lolly achingly feels over and over again- isn’t such a problem when someone just wants you to wind the yarn, or just help mend this one sheet. But eventually the dust settles and Laura (who tries and tries again to emerge from behind Lolly) grows so tired of it that taking to her bed ill for two weeks is a blessed relief- all the understanding of her desire to do nothing (which is the only coded way she can express her real desire for independence) that would not have been there otherwise is hers. It offers even more understanding of the “fashionable” invalid of the era.

the secret advantage

I told myself I wouldn’t immediately begin dreaming of retirement after starting back to work, but here I am, dreaming again. I suppose, like the protagonist in Lolly Willowes, I want to stop having to do, do, do.

Helpful information here:

To answer Diane’s question, no, you can’t just take the numbers for couples and divide by two. That’s because singles don’t have the same opportunities to share costs for things like accommodation, vehicles, and running a household. The fact is, singles will have to save more for retirement on a per-person basis than retirees who can split the load with a partner.

But before you get too depressed, many singles do have a secret advantage that tends to level the playing field. If they’re not raising children, they have far more opportunities to save during their 30s and 40s, when couples are typically up to their necks in dirty diapers, daycare costs and monster mortgages.


Now that the art principles have been lost, has luring men become our only standard for beauty in dress? Young women may imagine that sex appeal is the single most important public identity a woman can attain. Living in an age when the only standard of female attractiveness is hotness, and when every detail of life is offered up on Facebook, young women find it normal that the whole world, not just their sweetheart, their gynecologist, and their mother, should know the exact shape of their bodies.

But if men do not feel compelled to have the world pass judgment on every inch, why should we? The early Dress Doctors were so pleased at the thought that the modern woman faced such a world of possibilities. No longer did she have to dress solely to attract a husband. If the Dress Doctors looked around at womankind today, they would wonder why so many of us are determined to appear ready to seduce at all hours of the day. Don’t we have anything else to do?

Today’s culture seems to have little appreciation for what years of living can do for you. We all know that growing older usually makes you less of an idiot. But there’s little sense today that age might endow you with sophistication, dignity, grace, stateliness, and wisdom. Or that we might aspire to dress in a way that expresses all these qualities.

— Linda Przybyszewski, The Lost Art of Dress, pp. 277-278

the unnoticed

And they think how they were young once, and they see new young women, just like what they were, and yet as surprising as if it had never happened before, like trees in spring. But they are like trees towards the end of summer, heavy and dusty, and nobody finds their leaves surprising, or notices them till they fall off. If they could be passive and unnoticed, it wouldn’t matter. But they must be active, and still not noticed. Doing, doing, doing, till mere habit scolds at them like a housewife, and rouses them up– when they might sit in their doorways and think– to be doing still!

–Sylvia Townsend Warner, Lolly Willowes, p. 240