Sunday, April 3, 2016

Woman On The Verge of Paradise : Book Review

Spoiler alert -- the book you are about to read does not end with "The knight in shining armor rode in on his white horse, rescued the fair maiden, and they lived happily ever after."

And I am so glad it doesn't end that way!

Woman On The Verge of Paradise is the latest book by Robyn Alana Engel, my new friend and fellow blogger at Life By Chocolate. The book is Robyn's "memoir-ish" story of growing up feeling like you don't quite fit in, becoming a writer, looking for love, getting married, getting divorced, still writing, and still looking for love. And realizing that a life not mated isn't just OK, it's actually pretty good.

So basically it's the story of my life, and the life of many other middle aged, divorced women I know.

I had the opportunity to do a little Q&A with Robyn and she provided even more insight into her life and her work.

Do you still believe in the fairy tale ending? 
No, I don't. Sigh. Almost all romances are happy-go-lucky at first. Then reality serves a fierce sucker punch to the gutt and we're knocked onto our tuchases.* *Yiddish for butts, rear-ends, derrieres, and/or asses; I was trying to be polite.

Are you still hoping/waiting for the fairy tale ending?
Well, I did recently sign onto on-line dating again, and I am looking for love. But I'm certainly not hoping or waiting for the traditional fairy tale ending.

Do you have any regrets about your marriage?
That's a great question. Yes, I have so many regrets - that I fell for him in the first place, that I lost myself to the relationship, that I didn't respect my feelings of discomfort, that he fared so badly and in ways I won't get into now. Several years ago, though, I decided that I can carry regrets. Regrets are human and manageable. Meanwhile, I decided that I don't deserve the guilt or shame or other sorts of self-abusive crap we do to ourselves. Life is hard enough. So I have regrets, but I don't fault myself. I entered the relationship with a pure, trusting open-heart. And that's a beautiful thing.

In hindsight, the signs of trouble were already there before the marriage. What did you learn from that time and how does it influence your current relationships? 
That's a key question too. Women are taught to sacrifice it all for the sake of marriage. It doesn't matter what kind of men we marry; so long as we marry. So I did everything for Justin and our relationship during the three years we were together. Gosh, it's tough to spell out all that I've learned, but I can sum it up by saying that self-love and self-respect are more important than anything else. Sadly, we aren't taught this basic truth. I'm more careful with my choices in men nowadays. I'm happier too. Life is a bit lighter, even though it's dark and heavy. But I'm quicker to laugh and smile, because I feel pretty darn good about me.

Any advice for other mature single ladies hoping/waiting/getting frustrated for their fairy tale ending?
Girlfriends, you are wonderful. You really are. Don't settle. Do not settle. I repeat: Don't even think about settling. Men, you're okay too. You shouldn't settle for a nagging, controlling diva. There are some very nice women *pointing at self* who know how to treat a guy right. Back to my gal pals, though, a few words: (1) chocolate, (2) Duracell, and (3) chocolate.

Anything else you think potential viewers would like to know?
I'm thrilled for every opportunity to put out. Oops, I meant, to put out my message. Phew! Close call. Seriously, though, I want my book to squelch the fairy tale to smithereens. I want to say to the world - in a big, bold way - that it's a great thing to live solely on your own terms. It's okay, and even a wonderful thing in many ways, to be single. I'm a single, non-parent, and I'm more content with myself and my life than I've ever felt before. I really want Woman on the Verge of Paradise to shift the world towards self-love and self-respect.

Also, it's by no means a girly book. There's very little full-fledged sex, no talk of "throbbing manhood," and a lot of penile incompetence. My male readers have loved the book too


  1. She sounds like a piece of work, that woman - *pointing at self*. Smiles. You're quite awesome yourself, Jennifer. Thank you for the thought provoking questions and fun interview that capped our new friendship. I really appreciate it all.

  2. Replies
    1. Thank you, John. Love you too and always, sweet friend.

  3. As one of those male readers, I'd like to say three things: First, that "summing up" part is one lesson we should have engraved on our butts at birth. Second, that advice is spot on. And third, this post should be added to any future printings.

  4. There you go again, Chris, with your thoughtful, astute, supportive insight. Gosh darnit. Smiles and thanks!

  5. Replies
    1. Thank you, Dixie. Jennifer nailed it with the most relevant questions that gave me plenty of room to express my book's message.

  6. As long as you remember that all men are pigs. Also remember that some pigs are still pretty nice and can make good pets.