It’s not that long a book but there is only so much oblivious stupidity and entitlement I can stand at a time.
Back in the early 60s it took quite a while to shed an unwanted spouse so while Howard is waiting to be rid of #1 she falls into writing feature articles for the newspaper for which she receives a generous amount of money. (I told you she just can’t stop talking about it.) She writes about whatever strikes her fancy and finds an audience.
I have a problem here. I can find no sense of appreciation in Howard’s writing for finding a career that she has engaged in in one form or another for most of her life. It just feels like Howard is coasting on minimal effort, minimal skill. So far the book is a shallow pool of heedless, careless decisions and actions, and it doesn’t get any better.
In chapter 4 Howard drops names, those she knew and those she only knew by reputation, like confetti at a wedding. Among other things she dated, rather seriously, J. Anthony Lukas but he dodged the matrimonial bullet and she went out three times with Erich Segal (Love Story).
I take heart from the saying, “Every woman should have a forgettable second husband.” First sentence, chapter 5. Charming.
The first few paragraphs are filled with so much wrong. Howard decides she needs to get married again. Let me just give you a couple sentences straight from the book:
…I decided it was time to stop entertaining myself and get back to being married.
It honestly never occurred to me to continue to do what I was doing-…
I wanted a second chance, a second husband and, most of all, a functional father for my children.
So now Howard wants to find someone to entertain her and a husband will do that, and be a father to those three children she had with #1 even though she wanted to leave while pregnant with the first.
This time the selection process was decidedly more thoughtful because I knew what I was looking for- or at least what I thought was required…
The next husband had to be for the kids; a surrogate father and a “normal” partner…
Uh… how screwed up is this woman?
So she “lands on” #2, a man from her social circle who she knew casually and then got to know a lot better and eventually wished she hadn’t made the effort. He asked me out for dinner, and by then I was thinking of him as a problem solver. He was supportive and low-key, and he wasn’t a lot of work. He. Wasn’t. A. Lot. Of. Work. Yeah, good thinking, Margo, work is to be avoided as much as and as long as possible.
She then lists all the interests they didn’t share, reading (hers), theatre (hers), politics (hers), sports (his). She assumes he will be good with her kids and never thinks that he might not be as smart as she thinks she is. I bet somewhere there was a pool on how long #2 was gonna last. He was comfortable and “old Chicago” and he gave her an enormous engagement ring that was a family heirloom.
Howard settles into the life of a wife of a successful Jewish funeral director.
Name dropping in this chapter, too. What she says about meeting Ben-Gurion makes me want to throw something, specifically her.
After some months of pleasant domesticity, the fractures in our family framework started to become visible, and sadly, I began to realize that this husband was a mistake, too.
Oh dear, seems he didn’t care for her kids, Howard didn’t care for his son, and the kids didn’t like each other. Howard spends a few paragraphs explaining how now she know all about how difficult it is to blend families, and all that she has learned over the centuries about how to introduce potential mates and children to each other and hopefully make it work.
She also tries to convince readers that she has learned wisdom and patience and all sorts of good stuff that her present words and actions belie.
Okay, so this marriage was headed for the rocks after a few months and now we are in year 3 of said marriage and Howard has stopped her writing and is now weeping. Cause, you know, trapped. With drugs and psychiatric help Howard divests herself of her interests in Kleenex and faces up to shedding #2. It only takes her somewhat less than four years.
She tells him to be gone, he is stunned and hurt, she says she will, of course, return the family ring (money-she haz it), and he could have the family dog as a consolation prize because he really loved it. The children weren’t happy about the dog but, I said it was the least we could do because Jules was so sad and we must always do what we can to help others feel better.
She then spends a couple more paragraphs on what she learned too late. She returns to writing. So endeth #2.