By Alicia Doyle

The Writer
Specializing in Good News
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Women not alone after a divorce, author says


Saturday, May 17, 2008

In a country where weddings are a billion-dollar business but more than half of marriages fail, author Leslie Lehr said she believes that it's important to have hope and learn how to recover quickly when the dream of matrimony dies.

"One of the great fears of divorce is that you will be alone forever — and that's just not true," Lehr said. "I want people to know they are not alone."

Such is the message of her new book, "Wife Goes On," the story of four women in Los Angeles who have nothing in common but divorce and who find that it's more than enough for them to become friends — and help each other live happily ever after. The book was inspired by the joy that Lehr felt when she got her life back after her own divorce and realized that she wasn't lonely at all — thanks to the power of friendship.

"Also, this is a real update on what a lot of people believe about divorced women," said Lehr, of Woodland Hills, author of "66 Laps" and a contributor to "Mommy Wars."

"Maybe the stigma is in our heads, but the word divorce' is still so ugly," said the mother of two teenage daughters. "Wife Goes On' really focuses on these women getting through that, looking forward and celebrating their second act."

Divorce doesn't need to have such a negative stigma attached to it, said Diane Loring, owner of SPA by Diane Loring at the historic Love House in Ventura, host of Lehr's book signing Sunday.

"Leslie's book will undoubtedly open up the opportunity for positive discussion about life after divorce and the endless possibilities for success and happiness, whether a person remains single or goes on to get married again," said Loring, 56.

Statistics show that more than 15 million women over 25 are divorced and, according to recent studies, women initiate most divorces today, with more than 80 percent of them better off emotionally as a result.

Yet "women still feel very ashamed and alone when they are faced with divorce," Loring said. "Their entire lives change; they experience feelings of anger, shame, failure, hopelessness, incapability, loneliness. Leslie writes a great novel inviting everyone in to take a look and share all of these feelings and maybe end up with a completely different feeling and sense of esteem about it."

Before "Wife Goes On," Lehr wrote the essay "Welcome to the Club" for the anthology "The Honeymoon's Over," about her long, hard journey to divorce. "I'm a Taurus, loyal to a fault," Lehr said. "Plus, my parents had a horrible divorce, so I was avoiding it at all costs."

But once she made the decision and realized that it didn't make her a bad person, "I was shocked that I could be such a happy person."

Lehr reached out to women who helped her as mentors, role models and confidants. As she started to heal and saw others in the same position she was in, she was happy to return the favor. "It was as if I had donned 3-D glasses and there was a whole world of people who were living happier ever after."

Unlike past generations of women who didn't air their dirty laundry, "now, we wash it together," Lehr said. "The emotional connection we have with others who have been through it makes all the difference — friends."

As "serious fiction wrapped in a chick lit bow," "Wife Goes On" targets women of all ages, she said, including those who are married, divorced or single. "It's for anyone who's ever had a bad breakup or is friends with someone who has," Lehr said. "It's for women starting over, embarking on a second act."

Lehr is not pro-divorce. "I am pro-happiness," she said. "I still believe in the fairy tale — and hope that I've learned how to make it come true."

Friends can help the recovery, Lehr writes

Kensington Publishing Corp.

Kensington Publishing Corp.




Lehr

Leslie Lehr. Photo courtesy of Leslie Lehr

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