Book Review: One Minus One

One Minus One


Author: Ruth Doan MacDougal
Publisher: Putnam, 1971
Format: Audiobook, Read by Amy McFadden (5hours, 34 minutes)

One Minus One was a dip into the nostalgia pool. Back in the old days, magazines such as GoodHouekeeping, Redbook and Ladies Home Journal would run whole novels in the back of their magazines. I thought most of them were quite good, and one of the reasons I subscribed to them. Most were what is now called Women’s Fiction.

This story appeared in Redbook. It’s the story of thirty-year-old Emily who has just been divorced by her husband so he could marry another woman. To say the least, Emily is devastated. She and David had been together since she was fifteen. But, now she must find a job and get on with her life. At least that’s what everyone tells her.

Emily finds a position teaching English in a high school in the coastal area of New Hampshire. She makes a few new friends at the school and a new boy-friend who’s a morning disc-jockey.

When the boyfriend leaves her for another woman, Emily’s attitude surprised me. Her actions seem to say “Oh well, its no big deal.” Emily just can’t get over her ex-husband. She doesn’t want to get over him. Another man, her boss who has been in the background, finally makes his move near the end of the school year. As we said back then, “He’s a good catch!”

I really wouldn’t call this a romance novel. I’d call it a slice-of-life novel. It was a good look back at life in the 1960s: lots of cigarettes, the birth-control pill and sex-before-marriage, low salaries ($6,000/year for a teacher) and low prices (a two-bedroom apartment somewhere around $120/month). For someone who lived during this time-period, One Minus One was a fun reminder of day to day life back then.

The story didn’t end the way I thought it should, but on the other hand, stories back then often didn’t. Writers tried hard to do the unexpected. The writing is very good, there’s no denying that.

This is one of the legendary librarian Nancy Pearl’s Book Lust Discoveries. As usual, Ms. Pearl gives us a thorough introduction and great questions at the end. For more information about her book choices, visit this website: Nancy Pearl Presents Book Lust Discoveries

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3 Responses to Book Review: One Minus One

  1. Oh how fun! I remember reading the stories in Good Housekeeping.

  2. Beth F says:

    I remember thinking Redbook had the best stories of all the women’s magazines. This sounds like a good discovery.

  3. kelley says:

    I remember novels in the back of magazines. Sounds like you enjoyed the book. I’m not sure it is something I’d like afte reading your review. Have a good day.

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