The period after a break-up, divorce, or separation where individuals struggle to start again and re-enter the dating world is always a challenge. There is the timing, the comparisons to exes and an overwhelming feeling that nothing feels the way it should. But, finding your place after the death of your partner is a completely different story.
In the new comedic novel, A Widow’s Guide to Sex and Dating, Claire Byrnes’ life is left in a bit of a mess after the unexpected death of her husband, a sexologist and well known author with a penchant for extramarital affairs. After leaving behind some unfinished business, Claire navigates her life with a newfound “widow virginity” and the necessity to discover who she is as an individual with the occasional help of multiple therapists, a psychic, and a botanomanist, and a set of rules she’s made for herself.
Rule #1: Don’t screw around on a Monday.
Rule #10: If you see your type coming, run.
Rule #14: Don’t confuse love and sex. One is a feeling, the other an event.
Even though these tongue-in-cheek rules are the guidelines Claire Bryne lives her life by, they aren’t the same set of rules the author, Carole Radziwill, uses in real life.
“The only real rule is never sleep with a man until he thinks that he’s in love with you.” Radziwill told The Daily Beast. “Also, remember to be the center of your own life [and] don’t play hard to get, just be hard to get in a way that is courteous, responsive, and ladylike [and] remember that you’re the center of your life.”
Claire’s character bears a slight resemblance to Radziwill’s own life. Both writers, the author also lost her husband Anthony in 1999 after his long-term battle with testicular cancer—as poignantly described in her 2005 memoir What Remains: A Memoir of Fate, Friendship, and Love.
“The story is based partly on my experiences of course, but also my observation of strangers and my imagination, and things I read and see.” Radziwill said when asked about the connection between Claire’s story and herself.
“In terms of the way I live my own life, I’m no expert,” Radziwill stated. “This book is not meant to be a guide by any sense of the word—I put that right out there, I’m not the model widow to be looked up to. But I started writing this book 10 years after my husband died, so I was in a completely different state of mind and I found my sense of humor.”
Claire’s story is comedic from the first page, skipping over the stages of grief straight to “acceptance.” And, through multiple bad dates, a firework romance with Hollywood’s leading man, and a lot of over analyzing, the humor stays throughout her entire journey of re-discovering herself.
“I am the queen of one date,” Radziwill laughed when asked about her own dating life. “I don’t think I’ve ever really had a bad first date, even the guys who are jerks, I always end up learning something. But, to get me on a second date requires a little magic and fairy dust.”
Radziwill has some other projects lined up because “a girl has to pay her bills” after all. One of them is her return to Bravo’s Real Housewives of New York, which last aired in 2012. When she first appeared on the show that same season, she considered it an ++”anthropological study”. Considering she is a long-time journalist, it’s no surprise. “I’m also an experience junkie so I look at it as an interesting experience that I will probably one day use in my writing.”
The new season, airing in March, is going to be filled with “the usual drinking, crying, and screaming.” Unable to reveal any plot twists or major drama, Radziwill assured that this season “on a scale of one to bat-shit-crazy…it’s bat-shit!”