Can the word ‘spinster’ be reclaimed, or will it always sound sad and musty? Back in 1898, Neith Boyce didn’t use the word for her Vogue column about the single life; instead she called herself ‘The Bachelor Girl’. Now, as more women are staying single, or single for longer, there’s a real need for books about how to do it with confidence and grace – books such as Marjorie Hillis’s uplifting and useful guide of 1936, Live Alone and Like It. Kate Bolick’s book sprang from an incisive think-piece she wrote for The Atlantic in 2011 exploring the single life. But despite its title, Spinster is not about being single. It’s about fantasising about spinsterhood, which is not at all the same thing.
Bolick has always had a ‘spinster wish’. She and her perfect-sounding boyfriend sit ‘on the sofa to read, one’s feet in the other’s lap, the traffic heading toward the Brooklyn Bridge like the din of some far-off