Review: Is Monogamy Dead? by Rosie Wilby


*My thanks to the author from whom I received this book in return for an unbiased and honest review*

Rosie Wilby is an award winning comedian who regularly appears on radio programmes such as BBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour. This professional experience is reflected in her ability to write so candidly, so confidently and with such a great balance between content, substance and humour. Is Monogamy Dead? is a very easy book to engage with, not just because Wilby's actually exploring a very topical and contemporary issue of what partnership looks like in our modern world - but also because of her informal tone of voice and short, bitesize chapters. 

The inspiration for this book came from the question "Who is the love of your life?" Most of us have relationships with people that range from the romantic, doomed, short-lived, longterm, heady and spontaneous, practical and secure. Is it possible to have this relationship with the same person and how do you negotiate relationships so that both needs are met?

"Love can be hard work, alongside all the amazing bits. So let's hold each other's hands and work out how to go about relationships in this scary, busy, digital twenty-first century."

As Wilby says, human behaviour is not often logical or reasonable -particularly when it comes to love, also there is no right or wrong answer or scientific explanation to show us how to love and who to love. But this book is an attempt - and a very clear, articulate, thoughtful and considered attempt - to consider what relationships look like in the 21st century and whether monogamy still has a place within modern couplings. Can one person still meet all our ever increasing needs in this ever increasingly fast moving world where we are constantly updating, upgrading and trading in our possessions?

Ultimately this is a personal piece of writing and very autobiographical. Wilby is honest, upfront, straight talking and reflects about her own relationships and her own heartbreaks. She talks a lot about her own sexuality and about the gay community. But she also wants to talk to anyone about monogamy and this book is written with a wide ranging audience in mind whatever their gender or sexuality. The underlying issues touched on this book are probably relevant to anyone who is involved in some kind of relationship or has aspirations, expectations, ambitions and dreams about the kind of relationship they want or feel they deserve. 

I was interested with Wilby's discussion of social media and found her comments about Facebook and how it has made friendship a commodity, that has affected our perception of "friends" and what it means to "like" someone. Wilby considers the affects of social media on the way we perceive monogamy and love and it's impact on modern relationships. I also found her passages about female friendships - platonic friendships - really interesting. These platonic friendships are often intense, ones where women form very deep bonds and can be incredibly powerful. When they go wrong, they can leave us heartbroken. They are, in effect, love affairs. I liked that Wilby raised lots of things I hadn't put together before in my mind and actually many things resonated or struck me.  

This book is full of humour, comedy and astute remarks but all the ideas, issues and points Wilby makes have been researched, investigated and developed into thought provoking arguments. It is an amusing, honest and lively piece of writing; endearing in its self deprecation and self effusiveness. And it is never flippant. There is substance and ideas are developed in good detail. It's not usually the type of book I would pick up and I think it grew out of a TED lecture but I was interested, I did find lots of comments valuable, insightful and it left me with plenty to think about and consider. I think it's also a brave piece and admire Wilby's honesty and frankness in using her own love affairs, heartbreak and partners to help explore her ideas, feelings and conclusions. 

And of course her main conclusion is satisfying, sound and heartwarming.

'Relationships are all unique.....[we need to] come to our own decisions about what works best for us and our loved ones.'

So whether monogamy is dead, whether it is for you, whether you have given up on long term, single partnerships or still seek it, this book is an interesting discussion of what it monogamy might mean in today's society. It's a well written, well structured, intelligent, witty book that's well worth a look. 


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