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Unremarried Widow

Unremarried Widow

A Memoir

  • reading group guide
In this powerful memoir, a young woman loses her husband twenty years after her own mother was widowed, and overcomes two generations of tragedy to discover that both hope and love endure.

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, her feelings of isolation and anxiety competed with the warmth and unconditional acceptance she’d found with Miles. She made few friends among the other Army wives. In some ways these were the only women who could truly empathize with her lonely, often fearful existence— yet they kept their distance, perhaps sensing the great potential for heartbreak among their number.

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.” A role, she later realized, that her mother had been preparing her for for most of her life.

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 father’s death in a plane crash, which Artis survived when she was five years old and which left her own mother a young widow.

In impeccable prose, Artis chronicles the years bookended by the loss of these men—each of whom she knew for only a short time but who had a profound impact on her life and on the woman she has become.
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  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 256 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451649284 | 
  • January 2014
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Video

Meet Artis Henderson, author of UNREMARRIED WIDOW

A young Army widow shares her heartbreaking, candid story of falling in love with, then tragically losing her husband and recovering after his death.

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Unremarried Widow includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Artis Henderson. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


Introduction

A world traveler, Artis Henderson dreamed of living abroad after college and one day becoming a writer. Marrying a conservative Texan soldier and being an Army wife was never in her plan. Nor was the devastating helicopter crash that took his life soon after their marriage. Unremarried Widow is a memoir about the unlikely ways love brings people together and the struggle to carry on after losing the love of your life.

Topics & Questions for Discussion

1. Early in the book, we learn that Artis’s father was a pilot, just like Miles, and that he too was killed in a crash. The first time Artis’s mother meets Miles, she tells Artis he is just like her father. How do you see Artis’s family history affecting the decisions she makes? How do you think that knowledge and those memories influenced how she felt about getting involved with a pilot?

2. “What if you love someone with all your heart but you’re afraid that being with him means giving up the lif see more

About the Author

Artis Henderson
Photograph courtesy of the author

Artis Henderson

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.

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