Sensational—in every sense of the word. Patricia’s emotional journey as a young divorcée in 1926 New York City will consume you from the inside out. She searches for herself in glitzy restaurants, others' beds, clothing stores, and speakeasies—and she finds herself in the end, but that ending tore my heart apart.
An instant bestseller when it was published anonymously in 1929—the story of a divorce and its aftermath, which scandalized the Jazz Age.
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, 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.
About the Author
Ursula Parrott (1899-1957) was born Katherine Ursula Towle in Dorchester, Massachusetts. After graduating from Radcliffe College, she became a newspaper reporter in New York and married her fellow journalist Lindesay Marc Parrott. The experience of their divorce helped inspire her first novel, Ex-Wife, which was published anonymously in 1929 and sold 100,000 copies in its first year. Parrott became one of the most successful female writers of the 1930s, adapting several of her bestsellers for the screen, including Strangers May Kiss and Next Time We Live. Her tumultuous private life included three more marriages, rumored liaisons with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sinclair Lewis, and the jazz guitarist Michael Neely Bryan. She died of cancer on a charity ward in New York, having spent the small fortune she earned with her pen.
Alissa Bennett is an essayist whose work addresses fandom, celebrity, and popular culture.
Marc Parrott (1923–1988) was the only son of Lindesay Marc Parrott and Ursula Parrott.
"Let us not divine any market predictions from the timing of the latest reissue of Ex-Wife . . . but rather revel in the surprising freshness of its prose. The references may have changed—“alligator pears” instead of avocado toast; Vionnet, not Vuori; telegrams rather than texting—but the preoccupation with love, money, fun and trouble is eternal." — Alexandra Jacobs
“Ex-Wife presented readers and critics with a new woman, one who was pursuing new vocational, economic, and romantic freedoms. She spent her days chasing a career, while her nights were a boozy smear of restaurants, speakeasies, and amorous encounters. She was exciting and discomfiting and morally questionable . . . But Ex-Wife, which is now being reissued (by McNally Editions) for the first time in more than thirty years, wasn’t the racy, frothy endorsement of cosmopolitan white women’s liberation that readers were primed to expect." — Jessica Winter
"Told with a polished Jazz Age dandyism, Ex-Wife resonates at a subtle but unmissable emotional frequency, which is what makes it feel so contemporary. While reading, I found myself taking screenshots to send to friends of almost every page.” — Zsófia Paulikovics
"Ursula Parrott’s Ex-Wife . . . gives us an idea of what it would be like to walk into [a] museum and or gallery and see a portrait of how we might have looked [then]: all of us dressed in stylish flapper clothes, swilling bootleg gin, chattering and flirting.” — Francine Prose
"The first thing I wondered [reading Ex-Wife] is where it had been all my life . . . A shockingly anticipatory account of what it means to want and what it means to be left; we live in a world where most of us know the feeling of both." — Alissa Bennett