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Saturday Night Widows: The Adventures of Six Friends Remaking Their Lives [Audiobook] [Audio CD]

Becky Aikman , Ann Marie Lee
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

22 Jan 2013
Six marriages, six heartbreaks, one shared beginning.

   In her forties – a widow, too young, too modern to accept the role – Becky Aikman struggled to make sense of her place in an altered world.  In this transcendent and infectiously wise memoir, she explores surprising new discoveries about how people experience grief and transcend loss and, following her own remarriage, forms a group with five other young widows to test these unconventional ideas.  Together, these friends summon the humor, resilience, and striving spirit essential for anyone overcoming adversity.

   Meet the Saturday Night Widows: ringleader Becky, an unsentimental journalist who lost her husband to cancer; Tara, a polished mother of two, whose husband died in the throes of alcoholism after she filed for divorce; Denise, a widow of just five months, now struggling to get by; Marcia, a hard-driving corporate lawyer; Dawn, an alluring self-made entrepreneur whose husband was killed in a sporting accident, leaving two small children behind; and Lesley, a housewife who returned home one day to find that her husband had committed suicide.

   The women meet once a month, and over the course of a year, they strike out on ever more far-flung adventures, learning to live past the worst thing they thought could happen.  They share emotional peaks and valleys – dating, parenting, moving, finding meaningful work, and reinventing themselves – while turning traditional thinking about loss and recovery upside down.  Through it all runs the story of Aikman's own journey through grief and her love affair with a man who tempts her to marry again.  In a transporting story of what friends can achieve when they hold each other up, Saturday Night Widows is a rare book that will make you laugh, think, and remind yourself that despite the utter unpredictability and occasional tragedy of life, it is also precious, fragile, and often more joyous than we recognize.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Product details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Random House Audio Publishing Group; Unabridged edition (22 Jan 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385360916
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385360913
  • Product Dimensions: 15 x 13 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Niki Collins-queen, Author TOP 500 REVIEWER
Becky Aikman's memoir is an amazing story of what recently widowed friends can achieve when they share the emotional peaks and valleys of transcending loss, dating, parenting, moving, finding meaningful work, and reinventing themselves. "Saturday Night Widows: The Adventures of Six Friends Remaking Their Lives" is about the monthly women's meetings over the course of a year and a far-flung adventure in North Africa's Morocco. In Fés, the group met Morrocan widows and later rode camels and camped in the Middle Atlas Mountains.
Wondering about the old cliché "women mourn, men replace and feel less guilt" they also met with four men who, like them, become widowed in their 40's and 50's. Although they learned the men jumped into new affairs more quickly they, like the women, loved their deceased spouses no less. But, unlike the widows, they told the women their widowhood seem to signal they were good marriage material and they sometimes received "sympathy sex." They all agreed the word "widow" had negative connotations. However, the women were shocked and hurt when one man admitted the word "widow" brought to mind the words "old" and "used."
To understand her experience Becky consulted with experts on the latest research about grieving. She was relieved to learn that grieving is a process of finding comfort. It doesn't have to be painful all the time. Instead of rigid stages people oscillate between sadness and normality. Over time the swings become less frequent and extreme. It's not shameful but natural and helpful to crack up with laughter in some of the darkest moments. Humor, flexibility, bonds with family and friends and openness to new experiences are the strongest predictors of an eventual return to emotional equilibrium.
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  187 reviews
56 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really hit home!! 13 Dec 2012
By Susan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I chose this book because at age 59 I found myself a widow,loosing my husband of 42+ years to ALS ( Lou Gehrigs Disease).
I could so relate to this book!!! I think people should read it just to learn what to do ,say to someone that has lost a spouse in a tragic way.

The Saturday night meetings start after it's founder is basically booted out of a support group!
A support group that reallly goes no where in the sense that it does not encourage the group to move on with life, to deal with their feelings.

The Saturady Night Widows talked about and said the things I have felt since my husband died 2 years ago. People can be very ignorant and cruel, they may not be trying to be but if they would take the time to listen to themselves I think they would realize that what they are doing/saying is hurtful.

Telling me he was in a better place made me angry, no he isn't he should be here with me. Watching your loved one die a little more each day is torture, you can't stop it, can't do a damm thing you have to be strong. You know he is going to die yet each day you have to smile and be cheerful while inside you too are dying in a differnt way.You have to watch as each day he gets weaker, looses the ability to walk, talk, move, write, smile, kiss you goodnight, go to the bathroom, and at some point he can no longer swallow and you know the end is near. Put yourself in this position when you appraoch someone that has lost their spouse. Listen to them, don't give advice or judge,

Asking me if I am over it yet is totally lacking in respect and sympathy.Not accepting his wishes to not have a funeral and telling me you do not agree is disrespectful,it is none of your business. He chose to donate his body to ALS research and many thought it was their place to tell me how wrong that was. He chose not to have a feeding tube and ventilator and I supported his every wish. He gets to choose not you! These are all things these women dealt with even though each lost their husband in a different way.
They explored their feelings together, helped one another get over the guilt and move on. It is also filled with alot of humor

There are so many changes to deal with and go through, when you get to where you want to have a man in your life again how do you meet them , what do you do, in my case I have been out of the dating game for over 40 years, talk about lost!!

I would recommend reading this just to learn how to approach someone that has lost thier wife or husband. While the circumstances are sad I did benefit from reading it and I enjoyed it! I have even been giving thought to starting a group where I live. These womem helped each other so much, helpd each other to move on, to live life again and get rid of the guilt.

I realize I have talked a lot t about my own circumstances for me it was the best way to give you an idea of what the Saturday Night Widows was about , what they did for each other and how they dealt with others that were insensitive.
33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Endings are also beginnings." 2 Dec 2012
By E. Bukowsky - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
"Saturday Night Widows," by Becky Aikman, is about a "group of renegade widows" who are determined to "move forward after loss." Becky had remarried before their first meeting, but still misses Bernie, her first husband, who died after a long struggle with cancer. She is gradually growing accustomed to life with her new husband, Bob, and his daughter, Lily. Becky recruits five women between the ages of thirty-nine and fifty-seven: Tara, whose alcoholic husband passed away before their divorce became final; the painfully thin and fragile Denise, a widow for just five months; Marcia, a tough-minded and ambitious corporate lawyer; Dawn, a gorgeous businesswoman; and Lesley, a housewife whose husband suddenly took his own life. Tara, Dawn, and Lesley have children; the others do not. All six women meet once a month for a year, and participate in a variety of activities, culminating in an exotic trip to the Moroccan desert. As the six ladies get to know one another better, they unwind and begin to reveal their feelings of guilt, anxiety, and loneliness, as well as their hopes and dreams for a better future.

Aikman, a journalist who worked for "Newsday," admits that she and her five companions are, in many ways, atypical. They are relatively young and affluent, and have the ability, means, and motivation to reinvent themselves. For example, they go on a shopping spree to a high-end lingerie shop, luxuriate in a spa, and embark on the aforementioned travel adventure. Most widows, especially those with limited income and dependent children, simply get on with life as best they can and rarely indulge in extravagant pleasures.

Still, in "Saturday Night Widows," the author, who is an outstanding descriptive writer, intelligently and sensitively explores universal themes that any woman who has suffered the pain of losing her husband can understand and appreciate. Aikman consulted scientists who have studied recovery after loss, and some researchers contend "that happy experiences with real people can be more helpful than wallowing in old-fashioned support groups based on outdated theories." With this in mind, Becky's small network of friends laughed and cried together, leaned on one another when necessary, and opened themselves up to new opportunities. This is a funny, heartfelt, poignant, and well-crafted book in which we get to know each widow and cheer when one of them dares to dip her toe into the perilous waters of a new relationship. Far from being a depressing and misery-laden memoir, "Saturday Night Widows" accentuates the positive: sisterhood is indeed powerful, we are more resilient than we think, and although we inevitably grieve for our loved ones, we need not become so mired in the past that we lose ourselves completely in the process.
78 of 92 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Grieving with the 1 percent 30 Nov 2012
By N. B. Kennedy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Becky Aikman was widowed young when her much-older husband dies of cancer. For this book, she gathers together a group of six women in the same situation. Together, the young widows don't just grieve, but actively try to move on with their lives, and not just survive, but thrive. She plans monthly outings for the group in the hope of staving off the diminished life that widowhood could engender.

I welcomed Ms. Aikman's desire to see these women return to a full and expansive life. The women she brings together are each lively, interesting and unique individuals. There is no "grieving widow" stereotype to be found in these pages. The women are sometimes bewildered, at times even brought low, by their fates, but they're also full of life and open to new experiences.

But even enjoying the book on this level, I couldn't fully engage with these women. It's not only that I haven't been in their situation, but frankly, I'm down here in the 99% while they're working through their issues in the 1% stratosphere. I tired of the brand-name dropping -- La Perla, Miu Miu, Barneys -- and the repetitive descriptions of everyone's just-so hair, clothing and bodies. (No more references to Tara's "smoky" voice, please!) They have fabulous Manhattan apartments and well-appointed summer places.

Money sure does smooth their way. The women tour the Metropolitan Museum with a private guide, shop at an exclusive lingerie boutique that opens after-hours just for them, while away the weekend at a spa hideaway, vacation in Morocco. Ms. Aikman is disdainful of those who grieve in more sedate ways. I almost put the book down after the first chapter in which she lets us know how unsuited she was to a traditional grief support group by trashing the others who attended. Does she really expect widows and widowers in their 70s and 80s to be as eager to engage with the world as she, a woman in her 40s, is? Have a little compassion.

More off-putting was the fact that Ms. Aikman was already remarried by the time she put this group together. Her raw grief is long past (and she grieved while on an expedition to the Galapagos). Beyond that, the group didn't organically come together. She scouted around for her invitees and ran the whole group as a social experiment of sorts. The meticulously planned arrangement left a bad taste in my mouth. It works out well for the women, and I'm sure they'll enjoy their friendships for life, no matter how infrequently they see each other. But because of the author's journalistic approach and emotional distance, the women's insights don't come across on paper with the impact I'm sure they had in real life. It was all a little too contrived for me.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars inspirational 30 Dec 2012
By Angela Risner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I picked this book because I know that I will be a young widow. No, I don't have a black cloud following me around; it's just that my husband is a good deal older than I am. I love him very much, but I know that one day I will likely be left alone.

Becky Aikman is an example of the newer waves of widows. These women are not going to dress in black for the rest of their lives; they are still vibrant, sexual beings who have years left to live after their husbands have passed. It doesn't mean that they didn't love their husbands - it's that they accept that they can't change that they are no longer here. Becky tries to find a widow's support group that represents this newer type of widow and when she can't, she starts her own.

Joining her are five other women, also in the primes of their lives. Each has lost a husband; some have children. All are looking for a way to navigate their new status as a widow. What follows is a great social experiment and friendship based on the commonality of surviving one of the most horrible losses you can ever have.

Some of my favorite lines:

* I often wondered about the definition of home. Is it the place where you live, or is it the place where the people you love reside? And if the people you love are gone, where is home then?
* I decided I should aspire to the impossible grace of Jackie Kennedy while trying to avoid the pitfalls of Jackie Onassis.
* Death has become unmentionable and therefore unimaginable, and if unimaginable therefore unmanageable. It should be impossible to recover from, we think, a mortal psychic blow.
* Many assume that a widow who manages to move ahead and be happy again probably didn't love her partner much in the first place...The study found no connection between the closeness of the marriage and the depth and duration of mourning. Those with healthy, happy relationships were well positioned to go on with healthy, happy lives.
* That was it. No one wanted to get on her back with somebody who didn't have her back.
* You can't go backward. You're never going to have what you had. You need to create your own life.

One of the most intriguing parts of the book was when Becky's group of widows met up with a group of widowers and discussed the different perceptions of each group.

From the men:

* I think women feel more pressure than we do to have their bodies look a certain way.
* The relationships I've been having have been less emotional, more physical. The bar is set really high after you've had the kind of relationship I had with my wife.
* Widower is generally a positive identifier -it means I haven't been divorced.
* If a man is divorced, women think, Oh God, the baggage...And if he's never been married, they think he's gay or just weird. But if you're a widower, it signals you are marriage material, and you get sympathy, which I don't think is true for a woman.

I highly recommend this book.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book for all-female book clubs 4 Jan 2013
By Bibanon1 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I wasn't sure if this book would really resonate with me as I am not a widow and haven't experience profound loss recently. I couldn't be more wrong. The main message that I got out of this book was the powerful effect and results that can happen when women truly support other women.

When Becky is widowed in her early forties, she has difficulty finding any sort of support network for young widows. She doesn't seem to fit in anywhere. So, she decides to start her own young widows group focused on supporting one another through positive experiences. The group ranges in age from 37 to 58 and the women spend one Saturday night together for a year trying new experiences such as cooking classes, art museum tours and even a major destination trip. All of them come out of experience positively and profoundly changed.

So often we hear negative things about female relationships in terms of how we tend to compare ourselves to each other, tear each other down and backstab. It is so refreshing to hear about a group of women who discover the transformative power of true sisterhood through shared traumatic and shared positive experiences. The story of each woman is really interesting and I think all female readers will find someone to emphathize with in the book. I was sorry that it ended and I would love to hear more about how each woman is moving forward in her life.

A great read for all-female book clubs.
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