Posted by: kimberlysullivan | April 15, 2016

Book review: How to be Single

How to be singleI was looking for a fun, light read, and this book started out quite promising.

The author had a great voice in the first pages, introducing a series of women and explaining how these bright, intelligent women living in New York had arrived to their mid and late-thirties without ever having married. The stories explaining the lives of these women were spot on and each character emerged sharply from the page.

I thought I was in for an enjoyable read, and looked forward to following their individual stories as they bravely confronted the New York dating scene.

And then? Well, after its promising start the book kind of fell apart.

The main protagonist, Julie, inexplicably manages to get a book advance that allows her to travel around the world ‘researching’ what it’s like to be single in each particular country. In theory, that could have been an interesting premise. In practice, we got an awful lot of whining and navel-gazing, and ‘research’ that generally consisted of speaking to two women per country about dating, followed by lots of good, old-fashioned stereotyping, with a couple of travel observations thrown in for good measure.

Perhaps more interesting was the New York front, where Julie’s friends continue on their misadventures. At least that segment was somewhat more engaging, but I couldn’t help but feel that a promising start, one that was clever and witty and which promised quirky but intelligent women who had something to say about the struggle to have it all in the Big Apple at the start of the 21st century, simply crumbled before my (reader’s) eyes.

A shame, since I would have enjoyed reading a book written at the same level of what I read in the opening chapters.


  1. I haven’t read the book but have heard the same comment from someone who has. It’s hard to keep the reader engaged through an entire book, but this is also disappointing for the reader who has invested in a written piece (non fiction or fiction) and doesn’t feel satisfied. It’s interesting since most editors and agents urge writers to be careful with the middle part of their work. You would expect that someone would have paid attention and put more effort.
    It’s like a meal with an amazing appetizer that would not be followed by a great entree and dessert.

    • Great analogy, Evelyne. Spoken like a true Frenchwoman. : ) But it explains the concept perfectly. When a writer draws you in on the first pages, it is just like that great appetizer, so it’s even more disappointing when the book (or dinner) goes downhill from there. A good lesson for us in our writing (and cooking, too), I suppose!

      • My father in law who taught high school French told me that he explained a dissertation to his students.
        Intro is appetizer.
        Middle is entree.
        Conclusion is dessert.
        Try to be consistent, he added. 😊

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