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Novels with Divorced Heroines

3 min read

By Lisa Thomson
Apr 15, 2021

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Reading is one of my favorite hobbies, as you likely have guessed. It follows suit to recommend novels with divorced heroes/heroines. We can always gain comfort from someone else's divorce story, fictional or fact.

Before I begin, not every single one of these books involves a divorce. Some characters are just on the brink of it. Nevertheless, it's not only the character, but the social reaction, and the judgment surrounding their divorce that is of interest in these novels. The books vary in setting, time period, reasons for divorce, and therefore represent a variety of perspectives.


  • Open House by Elizabeth Berg. When her husband leaves her, Samantha is forced to take in boarders to earn extra cash. As all of Berg's books, this one is comforting and full of sweet moments.

  • The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton. What was it like to be a divorced woman in the late 1800s? You'll find out when you meet Ellen, the 'disgraced' cousin of May Welland.

  • Black and Blue by Anna Quindlen. An abused woman changes her identity when she finds the courage to leave her husband.

  • The Good Mother by Sue Miller. The intersection of motherhood, love, and divorce can be messy. Anna learns the hard way that she may not be able to have all she yearns for.

  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. I haven't read this yet—I know, for shame. I am intrigued though, and when I'm ready for a literary masterpiece, I will attempt. It is available as an audiobook, and based on my test listen, was an introduction to a richly described world of domestic indifference. To quote the jacket summary: '… it explores and illuminates the deepest questions about how to live a fulfilled life.'

  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon. This is told from the perspective of a young teenage boy with autistic tendencies. Although he investigates the incident of the dog, what he uncovers are mysteries closer to home. Eventually, we see how the boy adapts to his parent's divorce. This book is equally engaging for both teens and adults. My son recommended it to me after he read it. Technically, it isn't a divorced heroine, but his parents separate, and we are able to view this from the child's perspective.

  • Faithful by Alice Hoffman. I haven't read this one yet, but it promises to be one of Hoffman's best. I am a fan of hers since way back, and although the heroine here was not married, she was living with her boyfriend of many years.

  • Say When by Elizabeth Berg. How do we know when a marriage is at its end? That's something Ellen and Griffin cannot agree on. Again, a Berg classic.

  • Heartburn by Nora Ephron. Love, love, love the late Nora Ephron. This author of I feel bad about my neck and Sleepless in Seattle wrote Heartburn long before those hits. You may recall the film version released back in the late 80's starring Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson. To quote the jacket summary: 'the creator of Sleepless in Seattle reminds us that comedy depends on anguish as surely as a proper gravy depends on flour and butter.' The perfect marriage has flopped, and what ensues is hilarious. Only Ephron could make that funny. 

  • Divorced, Desperate and Delicious by Christie Craig. This is self-explanatory. There's always time for a little dirty romance and escapism. It does the soul good like a ray of sun after the storm.

  • Wild by Cheryl Strayed. The emotional remains of an amicable divorce—oh, and a very long and serious hike. It's literally the physical struggle of the trail, set against the inner turmoil of a divorced woman.

  • The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler. This one is more from the perspective of a separated, or soon-to-be-divorced man, but the story is one we can relate to, having been through the end of a marriage or long-term relationship.

  • Divorced Girl Smiling by Jackie Phillosoph. This has been on my TBR shelf and looks interesting and fun. With a jacket summary opener like this: 'Smile! It's not just the end of your marriage, it's the beginning of your second chance!' who wouldn’t be tempted? 

If you are experiencing marital difficulties, please visit DivorceForcePRO to speak with one of our experts. To learn more about our Community, visit DivorceForce.com.

Written by Lisa Thomson

Lisa Thomson made the most difficult decision in her life in 2005—to end her marriage—the start of a five-year long extrication process. One of the outcomes was the publication of her two self-help books, The Great Escape: A Girl’s Guide to Leaving a Marriage, and A Divorce Companion. Each book provides practical how-to tips, along with insight into her personal experiences. Lisa is a columnist for The Huffington Post and Divorced Moms. You can view more of her articles at www.LisaThomsonLive.com.

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