Ex-Wife (Paperback)

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Ex-Wife By Ursula Parrott, Alissa Bennett (Foreword by), Marc Parrott (Afterword by) Cover Image
By Ursula Parrott, Alissa Bennett (Foreword by), Marc Parrott (Afterword by)
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Staff Reviews

- Alyssa

— From Ex-Wife (Staff Pick)


An instant bestseller when it was published anonymously in 1929, Ex-Wife is the story of a divorce and its aftermath that scandalized the Jazz Age—and still resonates today.

It's 1924, and Peter and Patricia have what looks to be a very modern marriage. Both drink. Both smoke. Both work, Patricia as a head copywriter at a major department store. When it comes to sex with other people, both believe in “the honesty policy.” Until they don‘t. Or, at least, until Peter doesn‘t—and a shell-shocked, lovesick Patricia finds herself starting out all over again, but this time around as a different kind of single woman: the ex-wife.

An instant bestseller when it was published anonymously in 1929, Ex-Wife captures the speakeasies, night clubs, and parties that defined Jazz Age New York—alongside the morning-after aspirin and calisthenics, the lunch-hour visits to the gym, the girl-talk, and the freedoms and anguish of solitude. It also casts a cool eye on the bedrooms and the doctor’s offices where, despite rising hemlines, the men still call the shots. The result is a unique view of what its author Ursula Parrott called “the era of the one-night stand”: an era very much like our own.

About the Author

Ursula Parrott (1899-1957) was born Katherine Ursula Towle in Dorchester, Massachusetts. After graduating from Radcliffe College, she became a newspaper reporter in New York and married her fellow journalist Lindesay Marc Parrott. The experience of their divorce helped inspire her first novel, Ex-Wife, which was published anonymously in 1929 and sold 100,000 copies in its first year. Parrott became one of the most successful female writers of the 1930s, adapting several of her bestsellers for the screen, including Strangers May Kiss and Next Time We Live. Her tumultuous private life included three more marriages, rumored liaisons with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sinclair Lewis, and the jazz guitarist Michael Neely Bryan. She died of cancer on a charity ward in New York, having spent the small fortune she earned with her pen.

Alissa Bennett is an essayist whose work addresses fandom, celebrity, and popular culture.

Marc Parrott (1923–1988) was the only son of Lindesay Marc Parrott and Ursula Parrott.

Praise For…

"Like Fitzgerald but from a woman’s perspective . . . Ex-Wife is a sharply observed, intimate account of a failed marriage, several failed love affairs, an abortion, numerous alcoholic interludes and one-night stands . ..  as if Dorothy Parker, Noël Coward, and Oscar Wilde had collaborated to examine the war between the sexes in the post-Victorian era."
— Joyce Carol Oates

“I’m tempted to simply type out a list of quotations from this book and call it a day, adding only a ‘BUY IT NOW!’ button at the bottom . . . The approach [feels] too advanced even for now. How did Ursula Parrott do it? . . . We must conclude that she possessed supernatural gifts of insight, as well as a talent for acid aphorisms and peppery dialogue . . . This edition features a gorgeous introduction by Alissa Bennett . . . Read if you like: Being wicked, shopping, breakfast for dinner, bearing distress with dignity, Elizabeth Jane Howard’s The Cazalet Chronicles.”
— Molly Young

Ex-Wife presented readers and critics with a new woman, one who was pursuing new vocational, economic, and romantic freedoms. She spent her days chasing a career, while her nights were a boozy smear of restaurants, speakeasies, and amorous encounters. She was exciting and discomfiting and morally questionable . . . But Ex-Wife, which is now being reissued (by McNally Editions) for the first time in more than thirty years, wasn’t the racy, frothy endorsement of cosmopolitan white women’s liberation that readers were primed to expect."
— Jessica Winter

“[Let us] revel in the surprising freshness of its prose . . . Ex-Wife depicted remarkable erotic freedom . . . The other thing that glows in Ex-Wife, and the biography of its author, is New York City: the lights, the fights, the freedoms, constraints and terrible costs."
— Alexandra Jacobs

"Take one shot of Dorothy Parker and two shots of Dawn Powell, stir briskly, add a sour cherry, and you have the intoxicating Ex-Wife."
Air Mail

"Deftly crafted, wryly observed, and thoroughly unsettling . . . Caught between Victorian sexual mores and the libertinism of interwar Greenwich Village, Patricia brings a gimlet eye to the pervasive misogyny and sexual hypocrisies of her generation."
— Jessica Fletcher

"As it went on I found myself more and more moved by the writer's ability to render on the page the complexity of lost love coupled with the loss of first youth, and then second youth. Quite remarkable."
— Vivian Gornick

"Ex-Wife is every bit as engaging and thought-provoking as it was in 1929. The novel can be read as a period piece about the 1920s, the emergence of flappers and independent career women, but it is also an anatomy of a marriage and a divorce that takes a searing look at a conflicted woman . . . The novel’s passages on female friendship are as profound as Patricia’s efforts to become her own woman in the company of the men she desires."
— Carl Rollyson

Product Details
ISBN: 9781946022561
ISBN-10: 194602256X
Publisher: McNally Editions
Publication Date: May 2nd, 2023
Pages: 232
Language: English