On the Shelf: Calling It Quits: Late-Life Divorce and Starting Over

“Some gave the usual reasons: “He traded me in for a trophy wife younger than our daughter,” or “We had nothing in common anymore,” or “I couldn’t take his (fill in the blank – gambling, drinking, womanizing).” But I also heard a lot of stories from men and women who I thought lived comfortable, contented lives in financially secure marriages and who said that they didn’t care what the future might hold, that they divorced because they could not go on living the same old life in the same old rut with the same old boring person. I heard a lot of remarks that all came down to one word: freedom”
So says Deirdre Bair in Calling It Quits: Late-Life Divorce and Starting Over, a groundbreaking book that details the many, and varied, reasons older, long-married couples suddenly decide to split.
A critically-acclaimed author and recipient of the National Book Award for Samuel Beckett: A Biography, Bair was inspired to write Calling It Quits by an article in an AARP magazine she read while sitting in her dentist’s office. She interviewed 126 men, 184 women and 84 of their adult children, with extremely interesting results. Chapters in the book cover topics ranging from infidelity and abuse, the “last chance” divorce, the true value of a spouse, the passionate life and the quest for happiness.
Providing examples of how her subjects coped before, during and after their divorces, as well how they went on to rebuild their lives, Bair offers guidance for those contemplating a late-life divorce and encouragement to those who have already started over on their own.
I highly recommend this thoughtful, well-written, timely book, especially to those who agree with Vivian Gornick, who wrote in The Solitude of Self, “Better by far to be alone than to face daily the intolerable loneliness that one experienced in the presence of the absence.”