A quick rundown… Becky is a young widow, disenchanted with the tag and options available. So she sets out to join with other young widows in this sad, happy and funny memoir.
Strengths: Really interesting look at the way society classifies widows and expectations of their behaviour.
Weaknesses: Sometimes quite sad.
Why I read it: Sent to me by Crown Publishing, New York – thank you!
Publisher: Crown Publishing
Rating: 8 out of 10
Despite the cover looking closer to a chick lit type book, Saturday Night Widows is actually a heartfelt memoir by Becky Aikman, exploring the life of a young widow with five other women who lost their husbands at a young age. (Although on second thoughts, how else would you style a book cover for a book about widows starting again? Black and boring goes against everything Becky and her friends are saying.) Aikman decided to start the group after she was kicked out of a grief support group for widows – there seemed to be a lack of resources for younger widows who still have decades of life ahead of them. Society seemed to want them to curl up in a corner in head to toe black – what were these women meant to do?
For Aikman, there was a happy ending before the story starts – after losing her husband Bernie to cancer, she remarried. But she was always focused on the lack of support for young widows. So, through friends and acquaintances, she found five other widows – Tara, Dawn, Denise, Lesley and Marcia. All came from different backgrounds, but they had all lost their husbands. Some had young children, some had none. Could these disparate women come together to help each other through their grief?
The first meeting was awkward initially, but the group came to trust each other in a way that others couldn’t through their shared experiences. They met regularly to try something new – cooking, a spa visit, art gallery visits and culminating in a trip to Morocco. As we followed over a year, many hurdles were found and overcome. To move house or not? To throw out clothes? To take a new job? A roommate? To fall in love?
I found this book really interesting – simply because at my time of life, I don’t have friends who are widows. I’d never really thought about the social expectations nor how hard it must be. One example where that disgusted me was when the art gallery tours pretty much refused Becky because they didn’t understand why the group wanted to see strong, uplifting type art compared to dark, mourning widow stuff. In contrast to that, I loved reading about how the women supported each other – a real ‘girl power’ kind of thing, a true friendship. What was interesting in contrast was when the widows group met the widowers group – surely the casual dating thing can’t be representative of all widowers?
While this is not a book you should give to a grieving widow at the funeral, it is an interesting look at women defying stereotypes.