What saves Ex-Wife from utter maudlin despair is the same formula that has made 50 similarly themed TV shows hits. One is its tender depiction of female friendship, even in the face of rivalry ... The other thing that glows in Ex-Wife... is New York City: the lights, the fights, the freedoms, constraints and terrible costs.
Folded in with Patricia’s descriptions of one-night stands and prohibition-busting binges are the kind of hollow distractions relatable to any of us who have ever wanted to forget ... Released in the decade between two world wars, and just months before Black Tuesday turned boom to bust, Ex-Wife probes the violent uncertainty of a world locked in a perpetual state of becoming.
At a time in the U.S. when the stigma of divorce was fading, and divorce rates were rising accordingly, Ex-Wife presented readers and critics with a new woman, one who was pursuing new vocational, economic, and romantic freedoms ... But Ex-Wife,...wasn’t the racy, frothy endorsement of cosmopolitan white women’s liberation that readers were primed to expect ... Parrott’s particular case of false consciousness resulted in less an anti-feminist book than, at times, a methodically misandrist one ... In her biography, Gordon makes an excellent case for Parrott as an unjustly forgotten historical figure: a sociological flash point, a beneficiary of feminism and victim of patriarchy who got her enemies mixed up. Her rightful place in the literary canon is trickier to judge ... I would put the book down for a short spell and, picking it up again, realize that my memory had reclassified Patricia’s first-person narration as a close third. (Some of the last lines of the novel, in fact, recommend maintaining a kind of respectful distance from the self.) This sense of detachment, even of disassociation, is especially acute in the book’s violent scenes ... arrott lacked Rhys’s synaesthetic descriptive acumen, her ability to make rooms and objects breathe with meaning and atmosphere even when their human occupants may remain emotionally reticent.