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. Finnamore casts her successful journey to recovery in terms of the classic model of loss, moving forward across the stages from denial through anger, bargaining, and grief until finally arriving at acceptance. And she does it with good nature and understanding.
Consider, for example, a few of her entries: "Ten Simple Yet Elegant Tips for Divorce;" "Change the locks;" and "When confronted with a practical question regarding fairness to your ex, err on the side of lifetime vendetta." Clearly, these are from the "Acceptance" stage.
While anyone who has been part of an ending relationship, whether through divorce or otherwise, will appreciate Split. The audience is not that limited. All readers who enjoy a skillfully written memoir will relish this book and be looking for more Finnamore to delight in.
Suzanne Finnamore lives and writes in northern California. Her work appears in many print and online magazines. She is the author of two previous books. You may learn more about her and her work on her website.
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