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Open: Love, Sex, and Life in an Open Marriage Hardcover – May 27, 2008

4.1 out of 5 stars 54 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jenny Block writes for Women’s Health, The Dallas Morning News, American Way, ellegirl.com, BeE, bRILLIANT, People Newspapers, Stone, Where, and D. She also has work in the books It's a Girl: Women Writers on Raising Daughters (Seal Press, 2006) and Letters to my Teacher (Adams, 2005), as well as in the forthcoming book, Have I Got a Guy For You: Fix-ups and Blind Dates Coordinated By Our Mothers (Viking, forthcoming 2007). In addition, her writing has appeared in Chow, Pointe, Virginia Living, Style Weekly, Tango, Richmond Magazine, and Literary Mama. The inspiration for Open stems from the piece, “Portrait of an Open Marriage”, which ran in Tango, and was reprinted by Cosmopolitan Germany and The Huffington Post. Jenny was also interviewed about the story on Chick Chat Radio, and for the daily newspaper a.m. New York.

Jenny holds both her Bachelor’s and her Master’s in English from Virginia Commonwealth University, where she taught composition for nearly ten years. She has also taught at the University of Richmond and Strayer University, as well as lectured at academic conferences across the country. Jenny has written numerous academic ancillaries for the Newsweek Education Program, Addison Wesley Longman, and Simon and Schuster.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Seal Press (May 27, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 158005241X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580052412
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #380,647 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jenny Block is the Lambda Literary Award winning author of "Open: Love, Sex, and Life in an Open Marriage" (Seal Hardcover, June 2008 and Seal Paperback, March 2009). She writes a weekly column for the Dallas Morning News publication Quick called "Sex Talk with Jenny Block" (quickdfw.com). Jenny holds both her BA and her MA in English from Virginia Commonwealth University and taught college composition for nearly ten years.

She writes for a wide variety of publications and websites, including huffingtonpost.com, yourtango.com, American Way, Veranda, the Dallas Morning News, the Dallas Voice, edgedallas.com, literarymama.com, Spirit, chow.com, and ellegirl.com. Her essay "And Then We Were Poly" is included in Rebecca Walker's book, One Big Happy Family: 18 Writers Talk About Polyamory, Open Adoption, Mixed Marriage, Househusbandry,Single Motherhood, and Other Realities of Truly Modern Love (Riverhead Hardcover, February 2009), which received a starred review from Kirkus. Jenny's essay "On Being Barbie" is included in book "It's a Girl: Women Writers on Raising Daughters" (Seal Press, March 2006) edited by Andrea Buchanan (The Daring Book for Girls).

Jenny has appeared on a variety of television and radio programs, including Fox and Friends, The Glenn Beck Show, The Tyra Banks Show, Good Morning Texas, The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet, foxnews.com (online video), Playboy Radio, The Alan Colmes Show, The Young Turks, and BBC Radio. "Open: Love, Sex, and Life in an Open Marriage" was written up and/or reviewed both nationally and internationally in and on a variety of publications and sites, including Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Glamour, Marie Claire, Curve, Observer UK, Maxi (Germany), Psychologies (UK), Playgirl, NPR's Morning Edition, The New York Times, feministing.com, San Francisco Chronicle, New York Daily News, 2: The Magazine for Couples (Canada), wow-womenonwriting.com, and the Baltimore City Paper. Jenny has also spoken in bookstores and other venues all across the country, including Georgetown University and The Science Museum of Virginia.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The Bookslut review nails it: [...]

I have no issue with the practice of polyamory. My issue is with the messenger. Jenny is a clever woman who easily wins people over with her warm demeanor and self-deprecating wit. However, I cannot take what she says at face value. Her book is supposed to be about open "marriage", but it has been (rather sheepishly) dedicated to her girlfriend. This subtle but cavalier gesture underscores the self-centered attitude that drives the story within.

We learn of Jenny's amazing power to attract youthful lesbian lovers who previously identified as straight ("whee"). We learn how she cheated on her spouse for the simple reason that she really, really likes having sex with other people (who doesn't?). And we learn how her husband is "the rock" in a marriage where he seemingly only exists to help her reach "the sky"... her girlfriend. How nice. I'm sure every spouse, male or female, aspires for such a role.

I agree with Jenny that our culture is overdue for a reexamination of monogamy. This simply isn't the book to accomplish it. Jenny is bisexual and has an arrangement that allows for male and female lovers if she so decides. However, other bisexuals practice a form of "gender monogamy" in which only partners of the same gender are allowed. Still others consider themselves sexually monogamous but engage in extramarital emotional relationships. Essentially, we can live as we please as long as it is for the betterment of everyone involved. Which is why it would be nice to hear the argument from her husband's perspective instead of exclusively from a person who is so gung-ho about wanting it all, at any cost.

If mainstream America is ever going to buy into this lifestyle, we need more than lip service and a ring on the cover.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a readable memoir and a offers some thoughtful reflections on how the author chose open marriage and what her experiences have been. But it's a fairy tale when it comes to what open marriage really involves. Everything just magically works, partly because she has the easy side of the coin (she has multiple partners, but her husband does not). So jealousy, time conflicts, attention conflicts, insecurities, competing intimacy needs, family and relationship emergencies, vacations (and being left out of vacations), child-rearing dilemmas, the taken-for-granted feeling, uncomfortable relations with ex-partners, using the other partner to escape difficult conversations/confrontations, feelings of violated privacy, broken agreements (or agreements stretched to the breaking point), the unforgivable sin of comparing partners out loud, overly needy partners, crazy NRE (new relationship energy), sexy young things making you feel old and getting older, money spent on the wrong partner, loneliness, the complexities of compersion (and what to do when it doesn't exist), overcontrolling your partner's relationships, etc. etc. - in other words, all the messiness of actual open relationships - simply don't exist in this book. The author complains about the glossed-over expectations of monogamy, but offers an equally glossed-over portrait of polyamory. Recommended antidote: Sadie Smythe, Open all the Way.
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Format: Paperback
I am an extremely open minded individual with many friends who are in open relationships. It's what works for them, and I respect that. Jenny Block does not seem so open minded, as she simply berates and puts down monogamous relationships throughout her book. She compares monogamous relationships to "big 80's hair," by saying these relationships are unhealthy, impossible to sustain, and are only good for keeping up appearances. I picked up this book hoping to get an insider's view on why open relationships work, but was instead treated to a 270 page thesis about why my monogamous relationship is antiquated and doomed to fail.
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Format: Paperback
My wife and I have loved "Open". As other reviewers have stated this with more eloquence, I won't belabor the point: Ms. Block's disarming honesty makes the book more useful than straight-up "pro-nonmonogamy" tracts. The reader can follow through her journey and draw their own impressions. As we amass a small library pondering the joys and perils of open marriage, we've found this book to be among the most useful yet, tying the utterly honest Polyamory: Roadmaps for the Clueless & Hopeful.

I will say this against the book: it fundamentally mischaracterizes Iris Krasnow's Surrendering to Marriage as a throwback to the 1950s "women submit to men" culture. This is simply wrong; Block has not read Krasnow carefully, or intentionally misread her. As Krasnow states (explicitly on page 14, implicitly throughout the book, including dust jacket and subtitle), the book is meant for both men and women. Krasnow (like Block!) writes about marriage from a woman's perspective simply because she is a woman.

I wouldn't make a big deal of this, but Block does: 7 pages are given over to an anti-Krasnow crusade. At one point, Block likens her to a "crackpot", and claims Krasnow has set back "countless years of fighting for women's rights." Nope. Block's misunderstanding.

This saddens me, because both Krasnow and Block are reacting against the romantic, harmful idealization of marriage, and I think they represent two wise perspectives which need to be integrated in any relationship which tries to be open.
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