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Marlan Warren is a free-lance publicist who promotes entertainers and book authors (Roadmap Communications and Book Publicity by Marlan, respectively). She is also a film maker (Roadmap Productions), Reiki Master/Teacher (Light Hands Reiki Studio and Institute), Screenwriter, Novelist, PhotoJournalist, Tai Chi practitioner. 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW: Be who you want to be. ("CHANGING SPACES" by Nancy King)-

“How is it possible that one minute I’m a wife
and the next I’m a discard?”
—Changing Spaces, Nancy King


Not since Marilyn French's 70s novel, THE WOMEN'S ROOM, has there been such a groundbreaking feminist novel. Nancy King tackles 180-degree life flips, divorce, women’s friendship and the healing power of New Mexico in her novel CHANGING SPACES. Just as in THE WOMEN'S ROOM, the central character (Laura) gets an "anvil" dropped on her head when her husband suddenly wants a divorce after a longtime marriage in which Laura has been deeply in love. That King has the couple coupling a few hours before this shocking news is testimony to how skillfully she lets readers know (a) older women can still have sex with their husbands and enjoy it and (b) men are dogs.

Okay, maybe not that last one.

In CHANGING SPACES, men are not so much "dogs" as they are "dogged" in their pursuits. Laura's husband has doggedly pursued a younger woman, thus resulting in his asking for the divorce. And after Laura disappears off the face of Oberlin, Ohio where they have lived their comfortable lives, The Cad regrets his error and tries desperately to learn where she is.

Where Laura "is" determines the trajectory of this story and beats like a heart liberated from its rib cage. CHANGING SPACES is about lost and found identity--specifically the identity of married women who identify so much as wives (even if they have careers such as Laura does) that they eventually lose sight of what they really want until they get the rude "stick in the eye" of their spouse announcing divorce plans.

To its credit, this story is not a feminist diatribe nor does it preach about anything at all. It's a fun romp with the colorful (literally) women and men of Santa Fe with bits of comedy formerly missing from King's earlier books.

As Laura takes on Bed & Breakfast duties in Santa Fe, and frees her spirit in the natural beauty of New Mexico, we want her to succeed. But how will she solve that dilemma that was presented so succinctly in "Muriel's Wedding" when Muriel says, "I can change" and her mean-girl friends sniff, "You'll still be YOU"?

How Laura solves this dilemma is deliciously amusing as she learns how to take on a new "persona" through theater techniques that lead to fresh assertiveness.

And how successful is she at being her true (and improved) Self by the time her husband catches up with her?

Ahhh...that's when the real fun begins.

In today's world where women's rights are still threatened and female role models are scarcer than a rooster's teeth, CHANGING SPACES stands out as a well-written testament to the power of women, friendship and nurturing environments.


Originally published in Marlan Warren's Open Salon blog Dancing in the Experience Lane