23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Saturday Night Widows: The Adventures of Six Friends Remaking Their Lives (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
At this time of year I usually read holiday-themed books - frothy romances or quirky cosy mysteries. However, when I got a chance to read this book about widowhood, I jumped at the chance, go figure.
The widowhood memoir is a pretty thriving sub-genre. Women tend to outlive their husbands, and writing about it is a fairly reliable way to come to terms with the grief. I have read a few of these books. The ones I read were pretty bleak, even the ones that ended hopefully. I couldn't finish some of them.
When Becky Aikman lost her husband to cancer she was in her forties. She had a job she loved at Newsday, but the publishing industry was in turmoil. She tried a conventional grief support group and was kicked out - the older widows in the group were openly hostile. Lucky for us, Becky Aikman is a survivor in more than one sense of the word. She is a writer and a researcher, and she set out to learn about grief in a constructive fashion. She formed her own support group with 5 other widows, and she talked to grief experts who challenged conventional wisdom. The result is this wonderful amalgam of memoir and nonfiction chick-buddy story. It works beautifully.
Alongside Becky, we get to meet other widows and get to know them well, to hear their stories and experience their journeys. We witness them helping each other, becoming friends, bickering, laughing, over a year in which they meet each month on a Saturday night. They visit a spa, shop for lingerie, and at the end they take a major trip together. They invite widowers to one meeting - the conversation is quite provocative. They talk to a group of widows in another country where the cultural barriers toward moving on after widowhood are nearly (but not quite) insurmountable. And some of them enter into new relationships with men.
It reads like a novel but is so much more compelling because it's true.
Becky Aikman addressed her grief forthrightly with this book. I suppose anyone in a long-term relationship, happy or otherwise, occasionally wonders what life would be like if their partner died. Many decide it doesn't bear thinking about, figuring they'll cross that bridge when they come to it. That time has come for the women and men in this book. They have to cope.
This is a great read. The women in the support group are compelling and their interaction is dynamic. Becky Aikman writes the heck out of this story. At the end of the year, the women in the group are, of course, at different stages in their process. This isn't a novel - some loose ends are not tied up, and not everyone gets their happy ending. For that reason I would love it if this book had a sequel. Highly recommended.