Unremarried Widow: A Memoirby Artis Henderson
Artis Henderson was a free-spirited young woman/i>/i>/i>
“A frank, poignant memoir about an unlikely marriage, a tragic death in Iraq, and the soul-testing work of picking up the pieces” (People) in the tradition of such powerful bestsellers as Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking and Carole Radziwill’s What Remains.
Artis Henderson was a free-spirited young woman with dreams of traveling the world and one day becoming a writer. Marrying a conservative Texan soldier and becoming an Army wife was never part of her plan, but when she met Miles, Artis threw caution to the wind and moved with him to a series of Army bases in dusty Southern towns, far from the exotic future of her dreams. If this was true love, she was ready to embrace it.
But when Miles was training and Artis was left alone, she experienced feelings of isolation and anxiety. It did not take long for a wife’s worst fears to come true. On November 6, 2006, the Apache helicopter carrying Miles crashed in Iraq, leaving twenty-six-year-old Artis—in official military terms—an “unremarried widow.”
In this memoir Artis recounts not only the unlikely love story she shared with Miles and her unfathomable recovery in the wake of his death—from the dark hours following the military notification to the first fumbling attempts at new love—but also reveals how Miles’s death mirrored her own father’s, in a plane crash that Artis survived when she was five years old and that left her own mother a young widow. Unremarried Widow is “a powerful look at mourning as a military wife….You can finish it in a day and find yourself haunted weeks later” (The New York Times Book Review).
After four months of marriage, Henderson lost her husband, a 23-year-old Army pilot, in the Iraq war, and she recounts in this languid, heart-tugging narrative their love story. While she was crazy about Miles Henderson, after they met at a dance club in Tallahassee, Fla., in 2004, and were living together soon after, the author was initially against the invasion of Iraq, frustrated about being compelled to move frequently from one army base to the next, from North Carolina to Texas, and dispirited by long absences from her husband. In her deliberate build-up to the inevitable, Henderson plants small clues along the way to deepen the foreshadowing, such as a visit to a psychic named Suzanna, the sudden death of the author’s own father in a flight accident when she was five, and Miles’s dream of dying nine months before he died. Miles was deployed to Iraq and killed within a few months in an unexplained helicopter accident, along with his best friend and pilot John Priestner, leaving the author both blind-sided yet unsurprised, and both relieved and horrified by the rituals of Army protocol and mourning. In her fluid prose Henderson portrays a moving journey to selfhood that strikes the reader as authentic and emotionally honest. Agents: Ann Stein and Aitken Alexander, Aitken Alexander Assoc. (Jan.)
“When I picked up Artis Henderson's brave, beautiful memoir about the death of her husband in Iraq, I expected to be devastated, and I was. Unremarried Widow is an unwavering look at young love and young loss, the physicality of grief, and what it means to be left behind. What I didn't expect was to be inspired. Henderson's story is also one of strength—the strength it takes to fall in love, to let it go, to follow your passion, to move on.”
- Simon & Schuster
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Meet the Author
Artis Henderson is an award-winning journalist and essayist whose work has appeared in The New York Times, Reader’s Digest, Florida Weekly, and the online literary journal Common Ties. She has an undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a graduate degree from Columbia University’s School of Journalism. She lives in New York.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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I enjoy reading memoirs, and this one exemplifies the exact reason. The rawness and reality that it brought with the accounts of her process of grief bring a great sense of true humanity through a beautiful art. Non-fiction pieces such as these should be celebrated and being able to open up with such brutal honesty is something to honor. Grief for this author was the focal point and I can relate.
This is the story of Miles and Artis Henderson’s marriage and how Artis deals with the death of Miles while on deployment in Iraq. It definitely makes you think about how you would deal with his death if you were in her shoes. It also makes you look at what is most important in life. I did not always agree with how Artis handled things, but each person grieves differently. There is no time limit on grief or rules on how to get through it. Artis shares her deepest pain and her struggle to move on. Honest, raw, encouragement.