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Split: A Memoir of Divorce Hardcover – April 17, 2008

4.6 out of 5 stars 63 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

California journalist and author Finnamore (The Zygote Chronicles) renders a sharp, cut-to-the-quick account of her painful divorce after five years of marriage. Living in the canyons of tony Marin County with her marketing v-p husband, N, and their toddler son she calls A, the author is devastated by N's announcement that he wants a divorce—and yet she is not surprised. In brief, astute chapters riddled with a dry, deadpan humor, the author reconstructs this surreal journey from giddy romance with a suave older man (she is 40, while he is in his 50s), through motherhood and the dawning suspicions of his infidelity, to his abandonment and denial that he is involved with someone else. Finnamore enlists various characters to see her through her crisis, which spans denial and anger, grief and acceptance: her jaded, long remarried mother, Bunny, who brings the pain-killers and stocks the house with junk food; her no-nonsense diminutive friend Lisa, who remarks upon hearing the news of the divorce, You have no idea how I have longed for this day; and her vehemently antimarriage childhood buddy Christian. Eschewing a divorce lawyer, Finnamore manages to come through with the help of her friends and conveys in this frank, winning memoir her supreme vulnerability and bravery. (Apr.)
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From Booklist

In this mordant memoir, novelist Finnamore takes readers through the dark, devastating days of her divorce. She begins with the moment her then-husband, referred to only as N, announces he’s leaving (he tells her she’s beautiful first), tracing her traumatic emotional journey through denial, anger, bargaining, grief, and, ultimately, acceptance. It’s not that there weren’t signs: a woman’s name scribbled on a cocktail napkin, a small volume of Zen poetry amorously inscribed to N. But Finnamore can’t believe that a relationship sprinkled with romantic moments and satisfying sex became so ravaged and raw. Finnamore changes names and details to protect the innocent. She also directs plenty of invective at her ex (though she says the two are now best friends). Part advice manual, part rant, this potent read percolates with Finnamore’s acerbic wit: There are so many marriage ceremonies, she writes, there ought to be one for divorce. Instead of rice, people could throw fistfuls of cash and light hallucinogens. --Allison Block

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Adult (April 17, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 052595046X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525950462
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,822,922 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I've been a fan of Finnamore since -- well, it feels like it's been since the day I started reading books, but we all know that makes no sense, as I'm not an infant. She is by far one of the most underrated writers of our time, and her background as an advertising copywriter is reflected in every page, every pithy sentence that is perfectly constructed to capture as much meaning as possible. Split is no exception, and brings the same concise brilliance that Otherwise Engaged and The Zygote Chronicles demonstrated so successfully. There isn't a wasted word here -- she perfectly captures entire scenes, emotions, inner monologues -- in raw, electric sentences that leap off the page.

I'll admit, I read this with a touch of melancholy, for I have always read "Otherwise Engaged" and "The Zygote Chronicles" as fictionalized memoirs, and I felt that I knew the characters already, it's just that they happened to be wearing new pseudonyms. And to watch the dissolution of the family I felt that I was privileged to see grow was an oddly personal experience for me. Although, to be frank, it would be difficult NOT to read this novel with a personal sense of sadness, for Finnamore so accurately captures every emotion -- every tortured moment of anger and frustration and sadness -- in such a universal way that it's as though you're living through it with her. It's a brilliant journey of heartbreak, sadness, and ultimately redemption, laced with Finnamore's trademark black humor. Divorce, it seems, can be deadly funny.

That being said, I don't recommend you start here if you're new to Finnamore. Although the book stands alone on its own merit, I must add that there is an extra layer of poignancy added if you've read her other two novels. By the time she emerges victorious, if battered, from her journey, you're as triumphant as she is, for you've seen not just the bad, but the good, too, that made the road that much more difficult.
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Format: Hardcover
One Friday evening, Suzanne Finnamore's life splits wide open. She stands in her kitchen in black cigarette pants, checking her lipstick and anticipating the weekend when her husband strolls in the door, gives her a kiss, grabs a martini, and, very soon, delivers the life-rending blow.

He states it simply and explicitly, "I. Want. A. Divorce." After telling his devastated spouse that he deserves happiness, he packs, puts on his best blazer and is out the door.

What about her? Both the reader and the soon-to-be-former wife wonder.

Split is painful and enlightening to read as Finnamore recounts her despair and eventual recovery. (She assures us in the preface that both she and her son are well and happy, so I'm not giving anything away.) What is delightful and riveting about the book is that Finnamore is a fine writer with a quick and insightful sense of humor. What could be bleak and discouraging turns out to be quite the opposite.

The heroine (and she is one) may lose N, as she designates him, but she gains insight from her more-than-delightful mother, Bunny. The morning after the leave-taking, Bunny shows up with a fifth of Jack Daniels and a half-gallon of butter pecan ice cream. Now there's a mom! Bunny isn't the only one to stick by Finnamore. Her friend Lisa is always there for her and never, ever, there for N. Lisa is wise. She knows just when to reveal some difficult truths and when to offer moral support.

Some people say that divorce is harder than widowhood because the jerk keeps showing up. Both are the loss of a relationship; mourning must be done.
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Format: Paperback
I laughed, I cried, I had another drink...

Having recently "Split" from my spouse of 17 years I found Suzanne Finnamore's memoir of love, loss, and desperation to be sadly accurate and unflinchingly honest. I found relief in the laughter that came by the hysterical re-telling of some of her more "eccentric" tales of how she coped with the pain, loss, sadness and fear of becoming an unexpected single mother and ex-wife.

When describing the pain she experienced at the sudden and inexplicable betrayal of her husband I felt as if she was standing over my shoulder while I wrote in my journal using the material as her own. It was good to know I was not alone. Is it appropriate to say that?

While my personal situation differed in many ways from hers, the core pain was well illustrated. The five stages of grief were well thought out and applied to the death of her marriage and definately feelings I can (almost) identify with but give me time because with books like Suzanne Finnemore's I am definately on my way.

1. Denial/Isolation - Yup.
2. Anger - Finally!
3. Bargaining - Didn't work.
4. Depression - Comes and goes.
5. Acceptance - Working towards it...

Thank you, Suzanne Finnemore for writing this book. Not only did I enjoy it but it gave me hope that all roads lead to a good story!
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Format: Hardcover
I could not put this book down. Finnamore brings the utter angst, grief and full gamut of emotions one experiences when getting divorced in this wonderful memoir. I look forward to reading her novels and wish her the best.
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