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The Secret Lives of Lawfully Wedded Wives: 27 Women Writers on Love, Infidelity, Sex Roles, Race, Kids, and More  

A brutally honest yet hopeful look at the state of the union

Edited by Autumn Stephens

Inner Ocean (May) $14.95

Playwright Robert Anderson once wrote, "In every marriage more than a week old, there are grounds for divorce. The trick is to find, and continue to find, grounds for marriage." That, as they say, is the question: to weather the marital storms or opt out and begin anew? Berkeley-based editor and writer Autumn Stephens has gathered 27 women authors who divulge their innermost painful and pleasurable thoughts about fidelity and infidelity, commitment, interracial unions, depression, divorce, and family life. Based on the evidence she's gathered, the consensus seems to be that despite the inevitable ups and downs, women prefer to be together rather than apart. Although some of the contributors have left their mates, the majority still plod along on their quest for new love. A few of the essays, including Fern Kupfer's "Another Traditional Arab-Jewish Iowa Potluck" (about a surprisingly happy interfaith union) and Amy Ettinger's "It's Not a Competition" (about the power struggles between spouses), are hopeful, insightful standouts. Stephens has selected accomplished scribes, most of whom write beautifully. She has also hit a nerve: In an age when at least one in two marriages fails and the battle of the sexes wages on, the promise of "till death do us part" often doesn't hold true. Marilyn Yalom states in her introduction that "this book is not for the fainthearted." But because it's brutally honest, it could serve as a bible for married (and divorced) women, and maybe even restore your faith that "happily ever after" can be achieved — either the first or the second time around. — Tara Taghizadeh


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