Wednesday, April 28, 2021

"She I Dare Not Name" by Donna Ward

"She I Dare Not Name: A Spinster's Meditations on Life" by Donna Ward came highly recommended by Jody Day of Gateway Women. Donna, 67, is a regular, wise presence at the chats for childless "elderwomen" that Jody organizes every quarter/season. This book, first published last year in Australia (and gradually making its way to other parts of the world), is a memoir in the form of a series of essays about Donna's life, and how she came to find herself in her 60s with neither husband nor children.  

I loved this book overall, and could relate to a lot of it -- albeit not everything in it.  We're both childless-not-by-choice, but Donna is single; I've been married for 35 years. I'm Canadian;  she's Australian (although she spent parts of her childhood in America and Peru), and her references & descriptions were unfamiliar and slightly exotic (I found myself looking up many unfamiliar terms -- bluestone house, jarrah doors...), reminding me of just how much I don't know about this distant part of the world.  Donna studied the classics and ancient history at university, and there are many references throughout the book to mythology (the ancient Greeks & Egyptians, in particular) -- some I dimly knew and others I did not. Perhaps a better knowledge of these myths and the characters in them would have added to my understanding & enjoyment of the book. 

I'll admit it took me a little while to get into this book, but once I did, I didn't want it to end. The prose was stunning -- lovely and lyrical, punctuated with some amazing, sharp observations about single life versus married life with children. My e-copy is littered with bookmarks.  

4 stars on Goodreads.  

This was Book #23 read to date in 2021 (and Book #7 finished in April), bringing me to 64% of my 2021 Goodreads Reading Challenge goal of 36 books. I am (for the moment, anyway...!) 12 books ahead of schedule. :)  You can find reviews of all my books read to date in 2021 tagged as "2021 books." 


  1. Oooh, I must look for it. Though the exoticism you found interesting will not be so exotic for me. LOL!

  2. Thanks for the review! I'm glad to know about this book.