Submitted by: Erica Manfred
My book, He’s History; You’re Not: Surviving Divorce After Forty, is a very candid account of my marriage and how it ended. An Amazon reader gave me a review which took issue with my telling the truth about my husband “without providing him a forum to defend himself” because she thought that would hurt my daughter. I wonder if she thought I should have given him a chapter in the book to tell his side of the story?
Hey, if we were speaking I might have done that. As it is, I got to exercise the prerogative of the writer—I got to tell my side of the story without consulting him. Is this fair to my daughter? I think so, for the reasons I outline below. I’d love to find out what you think?
The review was entitled: Dirty Laundry. She gave me one star (I think you have to give at least one star)
September 17, 2009
Ms. Manfred takes great care to write about keeping children out of the fray in the case of divorce. Good advice. It’s too bad she doesn’t heed her own counsel. She wrote a self-help book incorporating the story of her life. She wrote about her husband’s alleged adultery without providing him a forum to defend himself. All of this is memorialized for posterity for her child. Why would she want to hurt the one person she claims to care for the most? Ms. Manfred could have written this book without interjecting her own experiences, but then, she couldn’t have exacted revenge on the father of her child.
Here’s how I responded:
If I had written this book without injecting my own experience it would have been a different and much less helpful book. If you take a look at all the reviews they all mention that the inclusion of my experience gives the book the authenticity that makes it so valuable. In fact, I’ve heard from many readers that my book made them feel understood, that I could empathize what they were going through because I’d been there, done that, made the same mistakes they had made but managed to recover. There is no way I could have given readers that kind of reassurance without including my story.
As for my daughter, I wish I had such a book written by my mom about her marriage to my dad. What an incredible gift that would have been. As is, I know little of what she thought or felt during their unhappy marriage. Of course my daughter is free to talk to her father for his side of the story–but this book is part of my legacy to her and I believe it’s a valuable legacy. Who was it that said, “the truth shall set you free?” Knowing the truth can only give her insight into her past. By the way I changed her first name and we have different last names so her anonymity has been preserved.
Erica Manfred is the author of He’s History You’re Not, Surviving Divorce After 40. She has written for Cosmopolitan, New York Times Magazine, Ms., Parenting, Women’s Day, and Bottom Line/Personal. She currently runs a women’s divorce support group in her hometown of Woodstock, New York.