Court and Spark: Sleeping Alone

How to Sleep Alone in a King-Size Bed: A Memoir of Starting Over by Theo Pauline Nestor

Intelligent.   That’s the first word that comes to mind in describing this “all-too-true story” of a woman who unexpectedly finds,  in a single day, that her marriage has fallen apart.   Does this sound like the premise of Happens Every Day by Isabel Gillies?   Yes, it is virtually the exact same story but better told, and written from the narrator’s perspective.

In Happens… Gillies comes off as spoiled, narcissistic, whiny, self-pitying and tragically self-centered.   In Nestor’s account, as noted by a fellow author (David Shields), there’s “not an ounce of self-pity.”   Gillies claimed to have a prosperous and almost-perfect life before the divorce.   Nestor, while married, was just getting by; married to a man with a significant – and previously secret – gambling problem.   One of the keys of Nestor’s successful telling of her own story is that she never attempts to come off as special.   She’s “alive as you or me,” in the words of Bob Dylan.

Because the author does not put on airs, we do wish to follow her and find out what happens to her and her two daughters in the coming months (the book appears to cover about a year post-divorce).   In this memoir, Nestor adds and well summarizes some basic but essential research on the stages of divorce, and on the impact of divorce on children.   Because Nestor’s parents were divorced with horrible consequences (one of her sisters was removed from the household), she takes to heart the potential for future impact on her own children.

To this reader the telling had one flaw…   Nestor may have been a bit too honest when she tells us about the re-cycling of a former boyfriend to comfort her after her separation from her husband.   Yes, she actually refers to him as her “boyfriend” – which seems like a Victorian-era term now – while telling us more than I’m sure we wanted to know about their love life.   Naturally, this rebound relationship with an old flame does not pan out…   How, exactly, was this not predictable?

But in the end all is well as it ends well.   If Nestor does not turn into a happier person after her divorce, she does see herself as a far more real – and accepting – person.   Which is quite good news and intelligently told by a woman who as a young girl “memorized all the lyrics of Joni Mitchell’s Court and Spark (album).”   In the end, she and the reader re-learn a basic lesson about life…   It goes on.How to sleep 4

Note:   This book was purchased by the reviewer.

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