Title: The Wild Oats Project
Author: Robin Rinaldi
Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Publication Date: March 2015
Synopsis from Goodreads:
The project was simple: An attractive, successful magazine journalist, Robin Rinaldi, would move into a San Francisco apartment, join a dating site, and get laid. Never mind that she already owned a beautiful flat a few blocks away, that she was forty-four, or that she was married to a man she’d been in love with for eighteen years. What followed—a year of sex, heartbreak, and unexpected revelation—is the topic of this riveting memoir, The Wild Oats Project. An open marriage was never one of Rinaldi’s goals—her priority as she approached midlife was to start a family. But when her husband insisted on a vasectomy, she decided that she could remain married only on her own terms. If I can’t have children, she told herself, then I’m going to have lovers. During the week she would live alone, seduce men (and women), attend erotic workshops, and partake in wall-banging sex. On the weekends, she would go home and be a wife.
Wow this is quite the rush of a novel, and after a whirlwind read over the last two days, I’m torn about my feelings for this book.
It’s hard to rate and review this book because from a moral standpoint, I’m not able to get behind this author. I think her decision is a selfish one. I think it’s a wonderful thing for her to want to explore her sexuality and her femininity, to get to know herself better, to face her demons head on. But she wants the best of both worlds without consequence. She wants the love and support of her husband, and the passion and excitement of sexual encounters with other men. She asks the world of her husband when she requests the freedom of an open marriage, a request he doesn’t take lightly, but ultimately grants out of love. I wanted to see more respect on Rinaldi’s part for her husband. If her path was to explore her sexuality apart from her husband, than I think it needed to be as part of a separation or divorce. No in between world where both parties pretend like everything is ok.
On the other hand, I couldn’t put this book down because Rinaldi is clearly a very talented writer. She’s a story teller. Her style has an ease and flow about it, leading you into the next page. Her portrayal of her feelings and experiences sucks you right in. She’s a woman who’s not afraid to try anything and she puts you right in the thick of her year long experiment, no holds barred. Her stories are gripping and intriguing. She presents a new and unusual world as an outsider, learning and experiencing for the first time. Her memoir balances story with personal thoughts and insights, creating a contemplative structure with a quite, fiery power behind it. In her words alone, you can sense Rinaldi’s presence. She’s a force to be reckoned with.
But do I rate this memoir based on it’s qualities as a written work, or on the actions of the writer. Logic dictates I take the merits of the work itself, but my heart leaves me uncertain. I’ve decided to go with a solid 3 stars on this one.