The In Between Time.

Book Review for “Ex-Wife” by Ursula Parrott.

Summary: 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—the story of a divorce and its aftermath, which scandalized the Jazz Age.

Age: Adult; Genres: Literary, Fiction; Settings: Era/s: Vintage Contemporary; Location/s: USA – New York City; Other Categories: Novel, Women, Humor, Romance.


When I went to describe this book to my sister, the whole concept really turned her off, so I’m not sure how I can make this sound more appealing than I did when I told her about it, but I’ll give it a try. First off, I really enjoyed the style Parrott has used here. there’s a lightness, breezy almost to the prose here. it is as if Parrott tried to get people to think of this as social satire. However, truth be told, behind the offhand remarks, there’s no small amount of darkness, which thankfully doesn’t actually get maudlin. No, Patricia might seem offhanded about a whole lot, but that’s mostly a disguise. In fact, by the time I got to the end of this story, I really felt for Pat, which is a good thing.

In addition to the above, Goodreads also says:

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.

Well, I don’t know if the “roaring twenties” was the era of the one-night stand, or if our own era is as much like it as whomever wrote this seems to think. Sure, that was a very interesting era, especially in the US when they had just helped win the Great War to free the globe from Germany’s tyranny. Then, their ironic idea of freedom included prohibiting the consumption of alcohol (go figure). I do see where that might make sense, however, even if some of what we see today has been distanced by one or two generations from other wars like WWII and Viet Nam. But politics aside, I must admit that some of the things Parrott describes here did evoke some interesting comparisons to more recent eras, in particular the 1960s and the era of “free love.”

Although not through divorce, I do know what it is like to grieve the loss of a person you love. While they’re not exactly the same, I did find a few similarities in certain things. What Parrott attempts to show us here is a very detailed character study of Patricia, and how she evolves throughout the “in between” period in her life. Pat has to begin to figure out who she really is, and what she wants from her life, which is something both divorcées and people who are widowed have in common. It is also a portrait of friendship and support, through the friends that Patricia makes along her journey. Parrott does this with both a gentle hand, and a touch of humor.

In the classical sense of the definitions, a comedy is when everyone lives happily ever after; a tragedy is when they don’t. Going by this, I’d say that this is neither of these, but rather a type of hybrid of the two, a tragi-comedy if you will. There are no physical deaths here, but some things do die. While some characters do have a good ending, not all of them are so lucky. However, there’s still a touch of hope of some future happiness, it just doesn’t occur during the action of this novel. As for my emotional reaction, I didn’t cry, but I did find myself getting a touch choked up at one point, and there were a couple places that made me smile, but not laugh. Overall, I found this to be a wonderfully written story, and a window into people who lived during an era that often gets overshadowed by events that took place several years later. Since it is a work of vintage, contemporary fiction, Parrott had no idea what was in the future for these characters, and therefore none of the shadows of WWII touched this story. For all this, I’m very warmly recommending it, with 4.75 stars (rounded up). I’m so glad that this has been rereleased, and I truly appreciate having been allowed the ARC.


30483411-0-Edelweiss-Reviewer-BMcNally Editions (a division of Simon & Schuster) rereleased the 1929 novel “Ex-Wife” by Ursula Parrott on May 2, 2023. This book is available (via the following affiliate links) from Amazon, Blackwell‘s, Foyles, Waterstones, WHSmith, Wordery UK and Wordery US, Kobo US (eBooks and audiobooks),, iTunes (iBooks and audiobooks), new or used from Alibris, used from Better World Books (promoting libraries and world literary), as well as from as well as from and UK.Bookshop (to support independent bookshops, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic). I would like to thank the publishers for sending me an ARC of this novel via Edelweiss.

This novel qualifies for the following reading challenges: New Release Challenge (#16), The Classics Club.

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