Ball & Chain

Issue section: 
(320)

Nicky Falkof, Fusion, £10.99

This is a lively diatribe against the institution of marriage and, at a time when big white, ridiculously expensive weddings seem to be all the rage, it is a timely read. Falkof rages against the idealisation of marriage and the deluge of propaganda from popular culture that encourages young women to believe that the "big day" should mark the pinnacle of their aspirations.

There are plenty of hard statistics, mental health (marriage is not good for it), cost (£19,595) and divorce - 8th January is the most popular date to file for it and in New York you can employ a "divorce party planner" - but these are put alongside many different case studies about, sometimes horrific and heartbreaking, individual experiences.

Throw in Falkof's argumentative and journalistic style, plenty of references to celebrities and you have a book that occasionally reads like an irritating feature in Marie Claire but that also provides a spirited debunking of many of the myths about marriage and women's lives today.

She includes a look into the history of marriage and, unusually for popular reporting, shows that its portrayal as a lifelong commitment to a love match is a fairly modern phenomenon, as is the nuclear family.

The popular and jokey style of Ball and Chain belies what is a serious critique of marriage and women's role in society.