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Review: Perseverance overcomes grief in local author’s memoir of ambush divorce

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Two Minus One

"Two Minus One: A Memoir," by Kathryn Taylor

TWO MINUS ONE: A Memoir. By Kathryn Taylor. She Writes Press. 152 pages. $16.95 paperback.

“The man who had routinely assured me that ... he was in it for life, and that he loved me more than he loved his next breath declared, ‘I’m done with our marriage.’”

Summerville resident and retired teacher Kathryn Taylor’s memoir “Two Minus One” chronicles the wholly unexpected ending of her 8-year marriage to her second husband, the corresponding devastation of her self-worth, and her inspirational journey toward rebuilding her life anew. Taylor’s heartache is palpable on the pages of her earnest first book, as is her determination to redefine herself on her own terms.

The forthright chronology of the author’s trauma, grief and amelioration draws a sympathetic portrait of her sense of betrayal and isolation cautiously giving away to a heretofore unknown courage and autonomy as she embraces the burgeoning next incarnation of herself.

Likewise, her honest appraisal of the importance of attorneys and counselors, the adoption of her dog Lucy, and the formation and restoration of female friendships collectively affirm the myriad ways in which a wary openness to connections becomes critical to her 2-year arc toward newfound happiness.

Taylor’s pragmatic recounting of an upended life in transition is occasionally punctuated by thoughtfully rendered metaphors, as in this appraisal of her support community: “I realized my friendship garden needed to be purged as well. While I had always thought myself cautious in selecting those to have around me, my garden was long overdue for weeding. I had no strength or desire for betrayal or negativity. I required optimism and sincerity now more than ever. I needed to yank out and discard wilting specimens in the forefront ... (and) to move some from the periphery to a place of better light and visibility, where they could flourish and grow.”

“Two Minus One” is an empowering story of resilience and learning to savor an unexpected life by navigating through, and then writing through, darkness toward the light.

Moreover, Taylor’s memoir serves as an instructive model for the vital act of writing as healing and the ways in which storytelling can redress wounds, mend hearts, reconcile a harrowing past and alight the promise of an undiscovered future.

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Reviewer Jonathan Haupt is executive director of the Pat Conroy Literary Center and co-editor with Nicole Seitz of "Our Prince of Scribes: Writers Remember Pat Conroy."

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