TBR: Money, A Memoir

Today’s book is Money, A Memoir: Women, Emotions, and Cash, by Liz Perle.   Perle’s personal story is a zinger — she quit her job and moved to Singapore with her four-year-old son, only to be told by her husband that he wanted a divorce.  She writes about her learning, the hard way, that marrying wealth doesn’t really buy you security, and the freedom she found in learning that she could survive her worst nightmare.  When she remarries, and her new husband asks if it’s a problem for her that he isn’t financially secure, she has the insight to answer that she likes to feel taken care of, and that she’s spent a long time associating that with money.  That’s a nice, hard won, distinction.

Unfortunately, only a small part of Money, A Memoir, is actualy a memoir.  Mostly it’s a mushy pop-psychology book about how women are still looking for Prince Charming to rescue them from having to make tough financial choices.  There are some nice lines — I liked Chelle Campbell’s definition of the "emotional middle class" as "somebody who feels she still needs to strive to make ends meet but who has a lot of nice things so she feels she can’t really complain too much" — but not much substance. 

Perle is also oddly judgmental in some places.  When she hears that a former slow-track father of her acquaintance has taken an editor in chief position, where he travels a lot, she is "crestfallen," rather than glad that he’s had the opportunity to focus on his family and now is trying something else.   At the same time, she is highly critical of an artist who was reluctant to take a regular job when he and his wife had a baby, accepting at face value his wife’s complaint that he was "irresponsible" for the same characteristics she had previously valued.

Perle writes well, and the book is a quick read.  But it left me unsatisfied.  I’d rather have heard more about Perle’s own story — even if she didn’t open her check register, as Sandra Tsing Loh suggests.

2 Responses to “TBR: Money, A Memoir”

  1. jen Says:

    I definitely fit the old female stereotype when it comes to money. For me, it defines safety and security — and in that sense you can never have enough. Is it possible to be safe enough? To stop worrying about your kids? You’ll always find something to worry about.
    I remember once doing the math as to what point I would feel I could stop worrying. It involved the house being paid off (already right there a financial task requiring 25 years of work), something like a quarter of a million dollars in the bank per kid (to cover college) and a huge sum set aside to cover retirement. As is true for many my age, I do not believe social security will be there for me, so it’s all up to me; I also get freaked out about the potential future cost of health care. It was a staggering figure, really a lotto-ticket style figure. And it made me realize that I realistically would never feel I had enough money to be truly safe.

  2. robin Says:

    Absolute dynamite link
    http://www.powells.com/review/2006_06_13.html
    Thank you so much!
    Robin

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