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The Ghost Marriage: A Memoir

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At thirty-one, Kirsten has just returned to San Francisco from a bohemian year in Rome, ready to pursue a serious career as a writer and eventually, she hopes, marriage and family. When she meets Steve Beckwith, a handsome and successful attorney, she begins to see that future materialize more quickly than she'd dared to expect. Twenty-two years later, Steve has turned into At thirty-one, Kirsten has just returned to San Francisco from a bohemian year in Rome, ready to pursue a serious career as a writer and eventually, she hopes, marriage and family. When she meets Steve Beckwith, a handsome and successful attorney, she begins to see that future materialize more quickly than she'd dared to expect. Twenty-two years later, Steve has turned into someone quite different. Unemployed and addicted to opioids, he uses money and their two children to emotionally blackmail Kirsten. What's more, he's been having an affair with their real estate agent, who is also her close friend. So she divorces him--but after their divorce is finalized, Steve is diagnosed with colon cancer and dies within a year, leaving Kirsten with $1.5 million in debts she knew nothing about. It's then that she finally understands: The man she'd married was a needy, addictive person who came wrapped in a shiny package. As she fights toward recovery, Kirsten begins to receive communications from Steve in the afterlife--which lead her on an unexpected path to forgiveness. The Ghost Marriage is her story of discovery -- that life isn't limited to the tangible reality we experience on this earth, and that our worst adversaries can become our greatest teachers.


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At thirty-one, Kirsten has just returned to San Francisco from a bohemian year in Rome, ready to pursue a serious career as a writer and eventually, she hopes, marriage and family. When she meets Steve Beckwith, a handsome and successful attorney, she begins to see that future materialize more quickly than she'd dared to expect. Twenty-two years later, Steve has turned into At thirty-one, Kirsten has just returned to San Francisco from a bohemian year in Rome, ready to pursue a serious career as a writer and eventually, she hopes, marriage and family. When she meets Steve Beckwith, a handsome and successful attorney, she begins to see that future materialize more quickly than she'd dared to expect. Twenty-two years later, Steve has turned into someone quite different. Unemployed and addicted to opioids, he uses money and their two children to emotionally blackmail Kirsten. What's more, he's been having an affair with their real estate agent, who is also her close friend. So she divorces him--but after their divorce is finalized, Steve is diagnosed with colon cancer and dies within a year, leaving Kirsten with $1.5 million in debts she knew nothing about. It's then that she finally understands: The man she'd married was a needy, addictive person who came wrapped in a shiny package. As she fights toward recovery, Kirsten begins to receive communications from Steve in the afterlife--which lead her on an unexpected path to forgiveness. The Ghost Marriage is her story of discovery -- that life isn't limited to the tangible reality we experience on this earth, and that our worst adversaries can become our greatest teachers.

30 review for The Ghost Marriage: A Memoir

  1. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    With its intriguing title, “The Ghost Marriage: A Memoir” (2021) written by Kristen Mickelwait, is a thought provoking debut of marriage and the change that follows after marriage ends. Mickelwait is the first place recipient of The Ledges 2004 Fiction Awards Competition for her short story “Parting With Nina” she lives in the San Francisco Bay area. While some women would have reservations before becoming seriously involved with a divorcing father with four daughters, Mickelwait was dazzled by t With its intriguing title, “The Ghost Marriage: A Memoir” (2021) written by Kristen Mickelwait, is a thought provoking debut of marriage and the change that follows after marriage ends. Mickelwait is the first place recipient of The Ledges 2004 Fiction Awards Competition for her short story “Parting With Nina” she lives in the San Francisco Bay area. While some women would have reservations before becoming seriously involved with a divorcing father with four daughters, Mickelwait was dazzled by the handsome ambitious Steve Beckwith, an attorney in a prestigious law firm. After their marriage, the Beckwith’s were blissfully happy—until the reality of caring for the demands of their two small children and a large luxury home set in. Steve was exhausted by overwork, a long commute, seldom helped around the house, and spent money recklessly. Kristen was stressed out, overwhelmed homemaker, and would attribute her unrealistic expectations to her parent’s long happy marriage. In addition to the coronavirus pandemic, the opioid epidemic has taken a terrible toll in American family life. It was unclear when Steve’s opioid addiction began, or if it was related to his cancer treatments. It was noticeable that Mickelwait seemed to lack genuine compassion for Steve’s health crisis, and was highly critical of him throughout the book, oftentimes without considering her own role and responsibility for the challenges they faced as a couple and with co-parenting. Eventually Mickelwait arrived at a level of peace and acceptance following the trauma she experienced, her life seemed more fulfilling, currently she is writing a novel for publication. (2.5*) With thanks to She Writes Press via NetGalley for the DDC for the purpose of review.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Mary Jackson _TheMaryReader

    This was an interesting read. The cover is great. If you love memoirs maybe you will enjoy this one. The Mary Reader received this book from the publisher for review. A favorable review was not required and all views expressed are our own.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jules K

    Thank you net galley for sending me a copy of the ghost marriage in exchange for a honest review! I am so sad to give this book two stars, especially considering that up untill about 50% in it looked like a four star read. I loved the detailed writing however the actual spiritual part especially when it came to her dead husband arrived way too lately into the book and was written in a far more messy way.I obviously didn't go in expecting something such as spirituality to be hyper specific but when Thank you net galley for sending me a copy of the ghost marriage in exchange for a honest review! I am so sad to give this book two stars, especially considering that up untill about 50% in it looked like a four star read. I loved the detailed writing however the actual spiritual part especially when it came to her dead husband arrived way too lately into the book and was written in a far more messy way.I obviously didn't go in expecting something such as spirituality to be hyper specific but when it came talking about anything spiritual the writer did not manage to live up to the expectations created by the description. Further more there was so much detailing into how awful,narcissistic and sometimes verbally abusing Steven (her husband) was and the writing and capturing of progress when it came to their marriage was absolutely stellar ....and then she went on and forgave him when he died just like that?Were was the development?Yes love is a messy feeling,and it can't be logical but this was completely out of the blue and anticlimactic. Finally I feel the need to mention that even though I tried so hard to understand the author and give her the benefit of the doubt she really and I mean REALLY kept on pushing the toxic positive"you need to forgive the people who treated you AWFULLY if you want to actually become happy" logic.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ingrid Banwell

    I was intrigued by the Ghost Marriage’s premise of a memoir with a spiritual resolution and, a few days after I received my eagerly anticipated copy here in the Antipodes, I finished the whole book. It’s one thing to live through the roller-coaster ride that was Kirsten Mickelwait’s marriage and divorce, but quite another to re-live it by writing a memoir. This powerfully written, honest and page-turning story of a fairy-tale that turned into a nightmare must have been harrowing to write. Because I was intrigued by the Ghost Marriage’s premise of a memoir with a spiritual resolution and, a few days after I received my eagerly anticipated copy here in the Antipodes, I finished the whole book. It’s one thing to live through the roller-coaster ride that was Kirsten Mickelwait’s marriage and divorce, but quite another to re-live it by writing a memoir. This powerfully written, honest and page-turning story of a fairy-tale that turned into a nightmare must have been harrowing to write. Because it sure was a harrowing read. While there was something so very American about the stories of materialistic largesse and the corresponding big and frenetic family life with its pressures and expectations, most of the conflicts and dramas also carried a universal and disturbing whiff of familiarity. Many women will empathize with that all too pervasive conflict of juggling motherhood and career. Add an increasingly unhinged, unpredictable and narcissistic husband as well as a convoluted legal and financial system into the mix and here is a story that is excruciating, heartbreaking and at times, utterly frustrating. As well as a warning about the pitfalls of material excess and letting Alpha male husbands control household finances, I saw The Ghost Marriage as a reminder that we are all creations of our environments and victims of enculturation. Despite all the progress with regards to gender equality, many women still see marriage as a status symbol, a kind of goal-post along life’s journey. It’s a set-up wired to disappoint. The Ghost Marriage is a powerful message to women to be independent – no matter how seductive the fairy tale, no matter how persuasive that Prince Charming. The spiritual musings at the end beautifully tie up this insightful story with a message about forgiveness and hope and how they can come from the most unlikely of places. I would have liked to have seen more of this – a deeper exploration of those spiritual insights and the solace that comes from connecting with one’s transcendent self. Finally, it takes a great deal of generosity, wisdom and skill to revisit our turbulent pasts, reflect on what went wrong, learn from our experiences and share those lessons with others, so thank you Kirsten, for your spirit and honesty. I also hope that one day, you can let go of your Alpha-male ghost still fixing things in the afterlife, and replace him with an inner goddess.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Dawnny

    This was an open an honest memoir from the author about a marriage gone horribly wrong. She tells of her husbands manipulative ways and abusive tactics. His spiral from drug addiction. I felt for her and her children. What she experienced was not easy to move forward from. Even after her divorce and his death she still carried a very heavy plate from a marriage full of promises that ends in disaster and a mountain of debt. I like the parts of her husband haunting her after his death and her abil This was an open an honest memoir from the author about a marriage gone horribly wrong. She tells of her husbands manipulative ways and abusive tactics. His spiral from drug addiction. I felt for her and her children. What she experienced was not easy to move forward from. Even after her divorce and his death she still carried a very heavy plate from a marriage full of promises that ends in disaster and a mountain of debt. I like the parts of her husband haunting her after his death and her ability to finally forgive and find peace from it all. A compelling read. Dawnny Ruby Novels N Latte Hudson Valley NY

  6. 4 out of 5

    Marima

    The writing is lovely, elegant, and compelling. Unfortunately, the book falls flat in execution. It is marketed as a story about a woman reconciling her relationship with her now-deceased ex-husband (Steve), but the memoir doesn’t quite deliver in that department. The first 26 chapters (over 3/4 of the book) paint Steve as the villain. I don’t doubt that Steve treated her horribly, but I do find issue with the fact that she threw a deceased man—a man who is in no position to defend himself—under The writing is lovely, elegant, and compelling. Unfortunately, the book falls flat in execution. It is marketed as a story about a woman reconciling her relationship with her now-deceased ex-husband (Steve), but the memoir doesn’t quite deliver in that department. The first 26 chapters (over 3/4 of the book) paint Steve as the villain. I don’t doubt that Steve treated her horribly, but I do find issue with the fact that she threw a deceased man—a man who is in no position to defend himself—under the bus, painted herself as a Saint, and claimed that this was “reconciliation.” If anything, this seems more like an act of thinly-veiled revenge. There is no mention of her own wrongdoings, no attempt to clean up her side of the street—something that should exist in a memoir that tackles subjects as heavy as this one does. Yes, she was wronged in more ways than one, but there are always two sides to every story—and this memoir felt hellbent on proving that she has always been the victim, that she has never done anything wrong. She brushes off instances in which she yells at innocent customer service workers by saying she was “just so stressed” (an explanation for her behaviour, yes, but surely not an excuse). She mentions her strained relationship with her daughter, but brushes it off as “teenage hormones” (given that she later judges her daughter for wanting to get a tattoo, I find it hard to believe that she wasn’t contributing to the conflict). Her relationships and friendships, too, are always the fault of the other party—at what point do you ask yourself, “what’s the common denominator here?” This story surely had a lot of potential had the delivery been just a bit different—had the author actually undergone a spiritual transformation rather than just masquerading under the veil of spirituality while doubling down in the deflection department. Many thanks to NetGalley for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    Thank you Netgalley for allowing me to review this book. TW for Drug Use, Cheating, Death, and grieving. It took me a while to get into this book. I did not like the way the husband treated his wife and children. I did enjoy how the story ended. I liked how there were signs that everything was going to be all right. I really enjoyed the relationship between the daughter and the mother in this book. #Netgalley #Theghostmarraige

  8. 4 out of 5

    Camille Burgess

    LOVED this memoir - could not put it down. The writing is beautiful and the story is haunting!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Laura Pirtle

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This is the first book I've ever won in a Goodreads giveaway (or any kind of giveaway). I was asked to give an honest review. I'm a voracious reader and I pride myself on reading a variety of books because I believe that you can learn something even from a book you rate with one star. All this to say I learned a lot from Kirsten's book, even when my philosophy on life is vastly different from hers. I wavered between a 4 and a 5 star on this book. Honestly, I was surprised that she insinuated sev This is the first book I've ever won in a Goodreads giveaway (or any kind of giveaway). I was asked to give an honest review. I'm a voracious reader and I pride myself on reading a variety of books because I believe that you can learn something even from a book you rate with one star. All this to say I learned a lot from Kirsten's book, even when my philosophy on life is vastly different from hers. I wavered between a 4 and a 5 star on this book. Honestly, I was surprised that she insinuated several times that many of her ex's negative traits were because he was Republican or Catholic. Then she would be happy about dating Democrats but also found them to be lacking, yet never blamed it on the fact they were liberal or a democrat. I think there are jerks out there from both sides, so the political labels turned me off. However, I ended up choosing a 5 because of the incredible way the author has shared her life and how I didn't want to put this book down. First of all, her writing is smooth and easy to read. It's pleasurable and I found myself postponing chores or attention to my kids so I could find out what happened next. I will admit that the cover of the book confused me because it appears to be of a Victorian era woman when this is a modern day memoir. I would be interested in finding out the story behind how she chose the cover. (Update: I read the author's blog and she explains the imagery behind her choice of cover, and I won't spoil it by repeating it here, but safe to say, she did not choose it willy nilly.....she gave careful consideration to every aspect of her choice). The title also confused me until I finished the book and found out her reasoning and what she described as a 'ghost marriage.' (also ties in with the cover) It also tied into the her belief that her ex-husband was watching and guiding her from the grave after coming to terms in the after life with his narcissistic and damaging behavior toward her. What a survivor Kirsten is! She had, what appeared on the surface, a perfect marriage with multiple homes, country club membership, successful husband, beautiful children, and an idyllic lifestyle. Slowly this facade crumbled under her watch and she desperately tried to salvage what she could of her life, marriage, and sanity, while circumstances snowballed and created tremendous stress. Once she decided to end her marriage, things only went from bad to worse while her husband, who I believe loved her as deeply as a narcissist can, punished her for rejecting him. She turned to meditation, mediums, Buddha, astrology, and other means of coping to keep from slipping into a dark place. After her husband's death, she slowly found herself on the road to forgiveness. Although, as Christians, we are called to forgive, even when it is not deserved (as God has forgiven us). She had been put through so much pain and undeserved hatefulness from her ex that it truly took a miracle for her to find forgiveness in her heart. I believe once she was able to do this, her life improved drastically. She felt like so many of the blessings she received came from her ex-husband as he hovered around in the afterlife, and this is her story to tell. I feel that God blessed her for finding true forgiveness for those that her wronged her. Kirsten's story will stay with me. She has shared her journey by giving wisdom and advice in this story of her life. I'd love to discover 'the rest of the story' and see where her path takes her in the second half.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Haley

    This book was a rollercoaster to get through and at certain points could have been a five star read. I sympathized with the author for around the first 55% of this book when she explained her marriage and how she faced financial and mental manipulation from her (ex)husband. I thoroughly enjoyed this section of the novel. Around 60% the author begins to explain her bad relationship with her daughter which started to decline after the divorce. Up to this point I had been sympathizing with the autho This book was a rollercoaster to get through and at certain points could have been a five star read. I sympathized with the author for around the first 55% of this book when she explained her marriage and how she faced financial and mental manipulation from her (ex)husband. I thoroughly enjoyed this section of the novel. Around 60% the author begins to explain her bad relationship with her daughter which started to decline after the divorce. Up to this point I had been sympathizing with the author, but when she spoke of her daughter I could not help but be mad with her. There were certain things that she was reasonably upset about - her daughter being unattended, her custody agreement being changed etc. However, when she began calling her daughter selfish and almost villainizing her, I could not help but be annoyed with the author. Divorce affects the entire family, and yes her daughter was being a moody teenager, BUT this woman expressed zero sympathy for her and often made her daughter the villain of the story. While there was some reflection of this later on, the author does not really change her attitude towards her daughter until she's more agreeable again. Finally, around the 85% part of the book we finally get to the title, the author interacting with the "ghost" of her husband. She attributes faults to him and then eventually also her successes. At this point I began to be slightly more engaged in the story again but with the middle part of the story and the lack of sympathy for the people around her (almost exclusively her daughter), I couldn't completely check back in. Overall, the first 55% or so was a great listen which I thoroughly enjoyed and recommend.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Star Gater

    This being a memoir, I am trying to be sensitive; I found this hard to swallow and not believable. Educated woman marries an older man with four adult children, wants her own, has two and spends 18 years with a grifter? con artist? He dupes her with every decision they make, and she lets him. I couldn't connect with her at any point in the book. Her financial, child rearing and sharing, dating and notions of a ghost frustrated me. I had the audiobook and the narrator was okay. Thank you Netgalley This being a memoir, I am trying to be sensitive; I found this hard to swallow and not believable. Educated woman marries an older man with four adult children, wants her own, has two and spends 18 years with a grifter? con artist? He dupes her with every decision they make, and she lets him. I couldn't connect with her at any point in the book. Her financial, child rearing and sharing, dating and notions of a ghost frustrated me. I had the audiobook and the narrator was okay. Thank you Netgalley for accepting my request to read and review The Ghost Marriage.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kiersten Hathcock

    Kirsten’s memoir, The Ghost Marriage, is incredibly vulnerable and courageous. Penning a book, in itself, is no small task. But daring to write about communicating with your deceased, abusive ex-husband and all that comes with—and from—living with a controlling partner takes guts, strength and heightened emotional intelligence. Not to mention oodles of writing talent. Kirsten has all of it. She’s the real deal. The Ghost Marriage will haunt me (in a profound, beautiful way) for many years to com Kirsten’s memoir, The Ghost Marriage, is incredibly vulnerable and courageous. Penning a book, in itself, is no small task. But daring to write about communicating with your deceased, abusive ex-husband and all that comes with—and from—living with a controlling partner takes guts, strength and heightened emotional intelligence. Not to mention oodles of writing talent. Kirsten has all of it. She’s the real deal. The Ghost Marriage will haunt me (in a profound, beautiful way) for many years to come.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Darcia Helle

    Rating and reviewing memoirs can feel awkward, like you’re judging someone’s life. This one is especially difficult for me because, while the writing is excellent, I just didn’t connect with the author or her story. The author is a woman with two children, whose husband destroyed them financially due to addiction and out of control behavior. Having been through a similar issue myself, I expected to feel a strong emotional connection. I didn’t. I’m not going to pick apart the book to explain my rea Rating and reviewing memoirs can feel awkward, like you’re judging someone’s life. This one is especially difficult for me because, while the writing is excellent, I just didn’t connect with the author or her story. The author is a woman with two children, whose husband destroyed them financially due to addiction and out of control behavior. Having been through a similar issue myself, I expected to feel a strong emotional connection. I didn’t. I’m not going to pick apart the book to explain my reasons. It’s absolutely not my place to judge or dissect this woman’s life decisions. Her story is well presented and honest. Definitely give this memoir a try if it appeals to you. *I received an ARC from Booksparks.*

  14. 5 out of 5

    Eeva

    It always meke me feel a bit awkward when I have to rate a mamoir, because you don't only rate writing you also rating someone's life choices. When you review a novel you can say that MC's choices were stupid and ridiculous and not at all believable. Saying the same about a real person's choices might sound harsh and rude. Here the author's life choices were... questionable and doormat-y, to say the least. All I can say that more times than not her behavior mage me RAGE. She was so blind, so compl It always meke me feel a bit awkward when I have to rate a mamoir, because you don't only rate writing you also rating someone's life choices. When you review a novel you can say that MC's choices were stupid and ridiculous and not at all believable. Saying the same about a real person's choices might sound harsh and rude. Here the author's life choices were... questionable and doormat-y, to say the least. All I can say that more times than not her behavior mage me RAGE. She was so blind, so complant, so submissive it made me not only roll my eyes and sigh but it made me angry. But I guess it's easy to say as an outider. The writing is good, it kept me hooked, but this book would defs profit from yet another round of editing. I'm giving it three stars, just because I feel it would be better with ommiting all that spiritual/medium/ghosts/life coaching/spiritual guides bullshit. I understand the road to and need for forgivness, but I think mediums and life coaches are scum and their praying on the vulnerable is deplorable. I received this book from th Publisher in an exchange for an honest review

  15. 5 out of 5

    Yami's Bookshelf

    I would like to say thank you to @suzyapprovedbooktours and Kirsten Mickelwait for the opportunity to read and review this thought provoking memoir A Memoir on Marriage, Divorce and Forgiveness With its intriguing title, “The Ghost Marriage: A Memoir” (2021) written by Kristen Mickelwait, is a thought provoking debut of marriage and the change that follows after marriage ends. Mickelwait is the first place recipient of The Ledges 2004 Fiction Awards Competition for her short story “Parting With Ni I would like to say thank you to @suzyapprovedbooktours and Kirsten Mickelwait for the opportunity to read and review this thought provoking memoir A Memoir on Marriage, Divorce and Forgiveness With its intriguing title, “The Ghost Marriage: A Memoir” (2021) written by Kristen Mickelwait, is a thought provoking debut of marriage and the change that follows after marriage ends. Mickelwait is the first place recipient of The Ledges 2004 Fiction Awards Competition for her short story “Parting With Nina” she lives in the San Francisco Bay area. Overview At thirty-one, Kirsten has just returned to San Francisco from a bohemian year in Rome, ready to pursue a serious career as a writer and eventually, she hopes, marriage and family. When she meets Steve Beckwith, a handsome and successful attorney, she begins to see that future materialize more quickly than she’d dared to expect. Twenty-two years later, Steve has turned into someone quite different. Unemployed and addicted to opioids, he uses money and their two children to emotionally blackmail Kirsten. What’s more, he’s been having an affair with their real estate agent, who is also her close friend. So she divorces him—but after their divorce is finalized, Steve is diagnosed with colon cancer and dies within a year, leaving Kirsten with $1.5 million in debts she knew nothing about. It’s then that she finally understands: The man she’d married was a needy, addictive person who came wrapped in a shiny package. As she fights toward recovery, Kirsten begins to receive communications from Steve in the afterlife—which lead her on an unexpected path to forgiveness. The Ghost Marriage is her story of discovery—that life isn’t limited to the tangible reality we experience on this earth, and that our worst adversaries can become our greatest teachers. The Ghost Marriage is an honest, heartfelt assessment of all the trauma one woman went through in a very difficult marriage and beyond her late husband’s death. This book demonstrates how she persevered through all this and was able to learn to forgive. Well worth reading! Kirsten does a remarkable job in writing this story and having the reader absorb her story and truly see what a marvelous life she was able to accomplish after learning to forgive.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Kimball

    I liked the book. There was more written about the divorce than I expected. I hoped to read more of a ghostly connection with her ex as he explained why he was such an ass while he was alive.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Lanette Sweeney

    The writing in this memoir is excellent, which is why I am giving it four stars, but the story is not enough, in my opinion, to maintain an entire memoir and I would not recommend anyone read this unless they're looking for lessons in how to paint themselves as unsympathetically as possible. The main character, who is also the audio book's narrator, is annoying as hell. The stories she tells, which she presumably meant to garner sympathy for herself, actually portray her as materialistic, shallow The writing in this memoir is excellent, which is why I am giving it four stars, but the story is not enough, in my opinion, to maintain an entire memoir and I would not recommend anyone read this unless they're looking for lessons in how to paint themselves as unsympathetically as possible. The main character, who is also the audio book's narrator, is annoying as hell. The stories she tells, which she presumably meant to garner sympathy for herself, actually portray her as materialistic, shallow, and unlikeable. Worse still, the premise on which I chose to read the book, namely that the husband dies and starts communicating with his ex-wife from beyond the grave, was not realized until the book was almost over. Kirsten Mickelwait, like many women, discovers she is married to an out-of-control narcissist too late to save herself from being permanently tied to him by the children they share. Her once-handsome, successful attorney husband gains so much weight he chooses to have bypass surgery, then continues to eat huge meals that make him suffer constant gastric problems. He quits the law, mortgages himself to the hilt by buying a string of properties that he fails to use to earn any money, starts one failing business after another, and takes to wearing hillbilly overalls everywhere he goes. Their divorce, needless to say, is contentious. Kirsten feels most everything he does is done to spite or thwart her. The memoir shares every detail of mediation, couples counseling, and custody negotiations, without ever showing us that the wife (the writer of this story) grows any deeper understanding of herself. We hear about her online dating, in which she winds up with another egotistical narcissist, and her financial anxieties, which are hard to take seriously given the level of wealth she continues to enjoy throughout the book. I understand Kirsten had to start working after getting to be home with her children for most of their lives. I was sympathetic learning that she had to work long hours with an unpleasant commute to earn a good living. I understand that she was stressed about how her ex was ruining her credit, and I even understood how disappointing it must have been for her to give up her country-club membership. But for all of these "setbacks" to comprise the majority of the memoir left me a bit gobsmacked. Kirsten never had to worry that she and her ex-husband wouldn't have the money in their children's college funds to send their kids to school wherever they wanted to go. She was able to buy herself a lovely new home for herself and her children after she and her husband sold their mutual property. She found work as soon as she looked for it. She had medical insurance and was never in fear of not being able to feed her children. In the incident that made Kirsten seem the most unlikable, she tries to destroy the realtor who has an affair with her ex-husband, even though the woman worked diligently on their behalf and did sell the home in the midst of a market turndown. Once she discovers her husband had an affair with (and ultimately got engaged to) the realtor, who was once her good friend, Kirsten calls her boss, files a formal complaint, and ultimately drags her before a real-estate review board to challenge her right to continue working in real estate. I cannot imagine going after someone's livelihood in that way, no matter how disgusted I was that they were sleeping with my ex. Then, when her ex-husband gets terminal colon cancer, Kirsten continues to lack sympathy for him. The focus of the story she shares with us is almost solely on her desire to get money she is owed from her ex before he dies; the suspense of the story is about how close to death her ex-husband was when she finally secured these funds. Worse, she shares multiple embarrassing details with us about how her ex's bathroom smelled, or how she could tell he was wearing a colostomy bag under his clothes. The poor man was dying of colon cancer, and in a book written after the man's death, his ex-wife mocks him by sharing gross details about his disease? This seems beyond cruel. I don't doubt her ex-husband was a man-child who made Kirsten's life very difficult, who enjoyed alienating her from her teenage daughter, and who refused to do what was right regarding the properties he owned or the money he owed her. But this is something that happens to many, many women when they are going through a contentious divorce. This material is not worthy of an entire memoir. She suggests in the title and blurbs that the book will focus on how her husband spoke to her after death, but that is actually a very tiny portion of the book. Thanks to Netgalley for providing me with an audio version of this memoir in exchange for my honest review.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Amy Shook

    The Ghost Marriage By Kirsten Mickelwait No one told me how much work divorce is. The paperwork is horrendous: assets, expenses appraisals, projected incomes, tax returns...it’s like a fulltime job. One genre that I have read more of lately because of bookstagram and doing book tours are memoirs. I have to say this has been my absolute favorite memoir that I have read thus far! It was so relatable, engaging and made me gasp at the things she had to put up with. I found myself underlining so many t The Ghost Marriage By Kirsten Mickelwait No one told me how much work divorce is. The paperwork is horrendous: assets, expenses appraisals, projected incomes, tax returns...it’s like a fulltime job. One genre that I have read more of lately because of bookstagram and doing book tours are memoirs. I have to say this has been my absolute favorite memoir that I have read thus far! It was so relatable, engaging and made me gasp at the things she had to put up with. I found myself underlining so many things in the book that were parallel to my own situation. One of the messages that was echoed throughout the book (by other people in her life) was that Kirsten was destined to write and I truly believe that is her gift. Synopsis: Kirsten was swept off her feet by Stephen when she was in her early thirties and he in his late thirties. He was handsome, successful and charming. He was more conservative than she but she felt his other qualities would make up for that. Before meeting him she had just spent a year abroad in Rome soaking up the culture. NOw she was ready to settle into marriage and eventually family. They started out with a charmed life. They had a nice home, they were able to travel and enjoy eachothers company before they had children. Steve being on his second marriage and already having two teenage daughters from the first marriage needed a little convincing before they started a family together. Once they became parents like so many other couples they started to grow apart. Steve began to be an endless amount of need, as one of Kristen’s therapist explained to her (Mickelwait,50) He wanted to be involved in extracurricular activities that came at a high cost like acquiring real estate and hobbies or extreme sports that required a large cash flow to fill the void While at the same time he became less interested in his career that bankrolled these fancies. At her breaking point when therapy wasn’t working , Kristen finally leaves him. It will be many years before she is totally free of the damage he unleashed on her life. He ruins her credit and leaves her responsible for 1.5 million in debts he occurred. One of the things I found so surprising was the responsibility an ex- spouse has even with documentation of a divorce and other arrangements agreed upon at the time. Kristen’s story really frightened me at the thought of ever going through a divorce. Despite the many obstacles that Steve put her through after she left him while he was alive and from beyond the grave, she lived her life with grace and courage. Kirsten built a life she could be proud of for her and her children. In the end, she is able to forgive Steve for the insurmountable amount of turmoil he put her through while he was on earth and continued beyond his grave.. I don’t know that I would be able to do that. This book moved me to laughter and tears and I didn’t want it to end. I have already told many of my friends and coworkers about this book. This is one that will be staying on my shelf for sure!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Karen Beard

    Kirsten Mickelwait has joined the ranks of the legions of women, both celebrated and not, sharing their divorce stories. I have heard “divorce porn”. I think I like that. Kirsten is a professional writer. Girl meets boy. Boy sweeps girl off feet. Girl sees and hears everything she wants to and marries who she thinks is Prince Charming. She ignores RED FLAGS. (Divorced with 4 children and doesn’t want anymore. Kirsten wants children) Her story is not unique. Husband is a successful lawyer and pro Kirsten Mickelwait has joined the ranks of the legions of women, both celebrated and not, sharing their divorce stories. I have heard “divorce porn”. I think I like that. Kirsten is a professional writer. Girl meets boy. Boy sweeps girl off feet. Girl sees and hears everything she wants to and marries who she thinks is Prince Charming. She ignores RED FLAGS. (Divorced with 4 children and doesn’t want anymore. Kirsten wants children) Her story is not unique. Husband is a successful lawyer and provider. Wife cajoles husband into procreating again. She becomes stay at home mom. Gives up successful career. Pins all financial hopes and dreams on Prince Charming. They live that charmed life and build a financial and real estate empire. As happens, the glow begins to dull. Prince Charming starts to behave strangely. Gradually, the empire begins to crumble. Naturally, this is not what Kirsten signed up for. She bales on the marriage and Prince Charming exacts revenge. The second part highlights the financial struggles that Kirsten obsesses over and the emotional and physical deterioration of Prince Charming. There is also the dating history which serves to reinforce Kirsten’s evolving views that most men are of the narcissistic personality type. We also get some sense of what her 2 children, Bronte and Amory, are going through. Unfortunately, its usually only as it relates to Kirsten. Prince Charming is diagnosed with a terminal illness. Kirsten is consumed with worry that he with die without resolving his financial obligations, leaving her with a grin financial future. Much of the rest of the story revolves around these issues. Not shockingly, her ex-husband dies, many things are unresolved. She must work hard to restore her and her children’s financial future. She must also deal with the emotional fall-out. There is some redemption. Spirituality and mysticism help her to take steps towards forgiveness. There were issues such as how a party is affected by the bad decisions of the other party in a marriage. Marriage is a business contract. When we are in the throes of love we are not thinking rationally. Kirsten Mickelwait writes well. I got a great picture of the marriage and its dissolution. However, it left me cold. I found her indifference to her ex-husband’s terminal illness chilling. Full disclosure, I have gone through divorce. I have lived the single working mom thing. Yes, it’s hard. I missed my kid’s activities. My kids went through hell. I couldn’t quite cry for her losses. When I was working 60 hours a week as a registered nurse, she was trying to unload 6 properties. Conspicuous consumption. Sometimes you just must learn how to say no. If I want divorce porn, I’d rather have more action or more drama, say Eat, Pray, Love. 2 Stars. thank you Netgalley for ARC

  20. 4 out of 5

    Amber (ambernreads)

    This is the memoir of a woman and her marriage to, divorce from, and life after her abusive, manipulative and narcissistic addict husband. Kirsten tells of a story that is so familiar; dating and the first few years with your new partner are wonderful, heavenly. A few years in things start to seem off, there's subtle manipulation coming from your partner that you might not even catch. Twenty years in and you cannot recognize your partner at all. They are never wrong, you are never right, they're This is the memoir of a woman and her marriage to, divorce from, and life after her abusive, manipulative and narcissistic addict husband. Kirsten tells of a story that is so familiar; dating and the first few years with your new partner are wonderful, heavenly. A few years in things start to seem off, there's subtle manipulation coming from your partner that you might not even catch. Twenty years in and you cannot recognize your partner at all. They are never wrong, you are never right, they're the sole breadwinner by choice, you're the sole parent, you've got no control over any finances, you've been lied to and know it, you're isolated. With abusive relationships, and relationships with narcissists, you often don't realize what's happening until you're already deep in love or life with the person. Kristin tells her story and by the end you just might be left admiring her ability to accept the way her life has gone, and to find happiness in life after. I really enjoyed this memoir. I've been in a relationship, albeit a short one, with a narcissistic and abusive human being and even my short stint left lasting scars. Hearing how Kristin and her children seemed to get through the mess and succeed in life after their good, and then not so good relationship with their husband and father was encouraging. Kristin's perseverance in the face of all of her financial woes was incredible. I know as adults we all must do what we have to in order to survive, but let me tell you, wow that was a lot! I also really found her path of acceptance specifically very interesting. I don't necessarily subscribe to her beliefs, and find mediums and psychics to often take advantage of those in unfortunate circumstances, but I do have a healthy curiosity at the same time and it was just interesting to hear of her experience. I listened to this book on audio, and it's always a pleasure to hear the author read their own memoir. This was no exception. I'd definitely recommend this book to anyone who's been in a relationship dynamic similar to Kristin's (assuming it's not triggering), and anyone who's been through or has interest in hearing someone else's experience dealing with a difficult divorce from a difficult divorcee. *I was given a copy of this title via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Brandy Michelle Dull

    First off let me start by saying this is not my normal read and review. It is also not the normal format I choose to go towards but I am so happy I did because I feel that listening to this story instead of reading it gave a different experience that was more inadept and powerful than I would have normally experienced if I would have just read it in a paperback or hardback novel. This story follows the life of Kirsten as she meets this handsome successful man and falls madly in love with him. Sh First off let me start by saying this is not my normal read and review. It is also not the normal format I choose to go towards but I am so happy I did because I feel that listening to this story instead of reading it gave a different experience that was more inadept and powerful than I would have normally experienced if I would have just read it in a paperback or hardback novel. This story follows the life of Kirsten as she meets this handsome successful man and falls madly in love with him. She ends up marrying him and building a life and family with him, but she finds out that after twenty two years of marriage the cracks are less cracks and more chasms in her marriage. The smalls things that she left roll off her back every day of her marriage to "keep the peace" have built up and she finally opens her eyes to see the truth in the man she has married. What I found interesting about this memoir is that even though she acknowledged who he is and what his fault and downfalls are she still makes excuses for him or allows his ridiculous behavior. She like many woman including myself at one point in my life allow men to walk over them and control them. To manipulate them to get what they want, and unfortunately for Kirsten even after he is removed from her life he still haunts her and never truly leaves. I am not normally a reader of memoirs but agreed to this one as a favor to a blog tour friend and I am so glad I did because I thoroughly appreciated Kirsten sharing her story, if nothing else maybe some women will read this and find the strength to stop the man who is not treating her right in her relationship and her true happiness like Kirsten deserved in her Ghost Marriage all those years ago.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Josephine Sorrell

    The Ghost Marriage is a memoir spanning a lifetime of family, love, rejection, deceit and turmoil and finally forgiveness. It is the story of Kirsten and told and read by Kirsten. The audio version is a must as it is full of emotion. I felt her narration was honest and real as she openly described the good and bad of her marriage. As I read this memoir, I felt Kirsten was talking and confiding directly to me. I wanted to offer advice and to comfort her. Age thirty-one, Kirsten has just returned The Ghost Marriage is a memoir spanning a lifetime of family, love, rejection, deceit and turmoil and finally forgiveness. It is the story of Kirsten and told and read by Kirsten. The audio version is a must as it is full of emotion. I felt her narration was honest and real as she openly described the good and bad of her marriage. As I read this memoir, I felt Kirsten was talking and confiding directly to me. I wanted to offer advice and to comfort her. Age thirty-one, Kirsten has just returned to San Francisco from a bohemian year in Rome, ready to pursue a serious career as a writer. She hopes marriage and family will also complete her future. Then, she meets Steve Beckwith, a handsome and successful attorney and that future she hoped for begins to manifest more quickly than she expected. Jump Twenty-two and now Steve has turned into someone quite different. He is unemployed, addicted to opioids, cheating and emotionally and financially abusing Kirsten. He uses money and their two children to hurt Kirsten. As if an affair isn’t bad enough, the other party is their real estate agent, who is also Kirsten’s close friend. The divorce is particularly nasty as you might expect and complicated by Steve’s medical issues. A very unusual and controversial turn of events near the end lead Kirsten on an unexpected path to forgiveness. While some readers deleted stars due to this, I felt she was a mighty mature woman to resolve her life the way she did. I think that allows her to move on with life with a clear conscience. I hope Kirsten, Amory, and Brontë are all now leading joyful and contented lives.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Levens

    The Ghost Marriage Author, Kirsten Mickelwait Pub date: 6.1.21 Thank you @suzyapprovedbooktours @shewritespress and @kmickelwait54 for my signed #gifted copy! Kirsten Mickelwait's memoir pulls the reader into the tumultuous and captivating journey that was her marriage! The Ghost Marriage is an intimate and honest account of Kirsten's marriage to Steve that ranged from falling in love and parenthood to lies, deception, betrayals, law suits, and ultimately Steve's sudden death. And if all that wasn't The Ghost Marriage Author, Kirsten Mickelwait Pub date: 6.1.21 Thank you @suzyapprovedbooktours @shewritespress and @kmickelwait54 for my signed #gifted copy! Kirsten Mickelwait's memoir pulls the reader into the tumultuous and captivating journey that was her marriage! The Ghost Marriage is an intimate and honest account of Kirsten's marriage to Steve that ranged from falling in love and parenthood to lies, deception, betrayals, law suits, and ultimately Steve's sudden death. And if all that wasn't enough for one woman to handle, Steve communicates with Kirsten from the afterlife. What follows is an exceptionally strong woman's path to healing an her unimaginable road to forgiveness. There are so many lessons to be learned along this messy road of life and isn't it interesting who are teachers are sometimes? A few of my favorite quotes: ~ "Don't forget, we choose our lessons and the people who can teach them to us." ~ "We know that it's not happy people who are thankful, but thankful people who are happy. It literally has the power to change our world, and to change us." ~ "Understand the growth you're getting from this life. You're not seeing the light you're achieving. You're only seeing the struggle! Let go of your expectations." Well- written, honest, and compassionate, A Ghost Marriage is a must read memoir- especially for those who are struggling with forgiveness. With forgiveness comes freedom.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    Loved that this memoir (audiobook edition) is narrated by the author. Her voice is perfect for her story. This book traces her marriage, from its beginning (describe) to its tumultuous end and her rebuilding her life without her ex. There’s brief reference to the spiritual/afterlife/communicating with those who have left the world before us, but it’s less a part of the story than the title presumes. There were so many red flags from the very beginning in Kirsten’s marriage to Steve. Financial and Loved that this memoir (audiobook edition) is narrated by the author. Her voice is perfect for her story. This book traces her marriage, from its beginning (describe) to its tumultuous end and her rebuilding her life without her ex. There’s brief reference to the spiritual/afterlife/communicating with those who have left the world before us, but it’s less a part of the story than the title presumes. There were so many red flags from the very beginning in Kirsten’s marriage to Steve. Financial and mental health issues. Emotional and financial abuse. 15% into the audiobook, it’s clear the marriage is toast. The remainder is the good part. Kirsten rebuilding. Struggling. Having a normal life (including building her business and parenting while saddled with an immense burden left by her marriage and the aftermath). This is a memoir that’s well-written. While if it were fiction, I would have a real problem with the characters, I can’t have these problems in memoir-land. They’re real people, and real people aren’t perfect. And don’t always make smart decisions or look out for themselves the way an author can for their fictional characters. This definitely seems like more of a book that was written as a therapeutic exercise for the author, than a story with important life lessons for the reader—but I did enjoy it. Read this if you like: memoirs, coming back from financial ruin, divine intervention, strong women who finally figure out their path

  25. 5 out of 5

    Pamela Capone

    One of my favorite things about The Ghost Marriage (besides the brilliant writing) is that some of its important—possibly life-changing—insights are universal truths applicable to other world views or faiths. One "simple" powerful maxim that I personally believe (and of which I routinely need reminding) is this: This place is temporary. Our view here below is puny and limited and there is so much more going on that we don’t see—so much more to the BIG story. And if we are open/conscious to that One of my favorite things about The Ghost Marriage (besides the brilliant writing) is that some of its important—possibly life-changing—insights are universal truths applicable to other world views or faiths. One "simple" powerful maxim that I personally believe (and of which I routinely need reminding) is this: This place is temporary. Our view here below is puny and limited and there is so much more going on that we don’t see—so much more to the BIG story. And if we are open/conscious to that wisdom, earth indeed becomes forgiveness school and we are open-hearted learners…and changed. One of my favorite quotes in the book is reminiscent of the wise words of the late Brennan Manning on "the root of peace," and it's from Mickelwait's life coach, Arjuna, about a common, unconscious habit: “We always place conditions on our happiness. That’s not the way it works. You need to learn to be happy (I insert “content” or “at peace” here) without the conditions. And when you do, you’ll find that you receive the things you want. Sometimes God doesn’t change your situation, because he’s trying to change your heart.” This memoir is a page-turner, and better yet, a heart-turner. I believe the greatest gift in this book is her example of forgiveness, showing us how to give space for grace.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Shannon (The Book Club Mom)

    I read Kirsten Mickelwait’s memoir, The Ghost Marriage over the weekend, and it truly blew me away. At times, this book didn’t feel like a memoir at all. It felt like I was reading the script from a very dramatic, stressful, and nail-biting movie with a husband from hell. My jaw kept dropping with each new chapter as Mickelwait described all of the horrific things she went through over the years. Talk about the messiest and ugliest divorce ever! Wow. My heart broke for her. This sounds absolutel I read Kirsten Mickelwait’s memoir, The Ghost Marriage over the weekend, and it truly blew me away. At times, this book didn’t feel like a memoir at all. It felt like I was reading the script from a very dramatic, stressful, and nail-biting movie with a husband from hell. My jaw kept dropping with each new chapter as Mickelwait described all of the horrific things she went through over the years. Talk about the messiest and ugliest divorce ever! Wow. My heart broke for her. This sounds absolutely creepy, but I’m going to tell you anyways. Multiple times while reading, I’d head on over to Kirsten’s Instagram page, and my finger would hover over the “message” button. I wanted to flood her DMs with sad face and heart emojis. I wanted to tell her that I was thinking about her, and comment on how brave and strong she was. I just wanted to hug this woman. Mickelwait’s words were so easy to read. It felt like the two of us were just sitting on my deck, chatting, and enjoying a bottle of wine together. I absolutely loved her writing style. She writes with such honesty, grace, and heart. If you love reading about marriage, divorce, motherhood, and family life, you must read this memoir.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Trigger warning: If you have a history of dealing with a manipulative family member, you may not want to read this book. I was in a horrible mood while I was reading this book and about 2/3 of the way through I realized I was actually having a trauma response to the events described. The story just wasn't worth the anxiety I felt while reading. I'm also not sure who the intended audience is for this book. Imagine how difficult these events would have been able to go through if you didn't own six Trigger warning: If you have a history of dealing with a manipulative family member, you may not want to read this book. I was in a horrible mood while I was reading this book and about 2/3 of the way through I realized I was actually having a trauma response to the events described. The story just wasn't worth the anxiety I felt while reading. I'm also not sure who the intended audience is for this book. Imagine how difficult these events would have been able to go through if you didn't own six homes in one of the most expensive parts of the States. I don't know why Kirsten gave Steve the benefit of the doubt time and time again. Some discussion about why she was a passive observer to the emotional and financial abuse would have been illustrative. There were so many times when crisis could have been avoided if Kirsten just advocated for herself or didn't spend 25 hours a week commuting or made sure that there was follow through on the items in the divorce decree. The way Steve acted was in no way acceptable, but at some point, an adult needs to take responsibility for their actions/inactions/reactions.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Tiffany Reardon

    When you read the description on the back cover you think you're prepared but as you start to read the book truly understand just how many obstacles Kirsten had to go through aside from just the divorce. Without giving any spoilers what struck out to me the most was how Kirsten managed to ride the wave of obstacle after obstacle and never gave up. The Ghost Marriage is Kirsten's isn't simply a fairy tale marriage gone awry it's a glimpse into her own story and journey that takes you on to the hi When you read the description on the back cover you think you're prepared but as you start to read the book truly understand just how many obstacles Kirsten had to go through aside from just the divorce. Without giving any spoilers what struck out to me the most was how Kirsten managed to ride the wave of obstacle after obstacle and never gave up. The Ghost Marriage is Kirsten's isn't simply a fairy tale marriage gone awry it's a glimpse into her own story and journey that takes you on to the highs and lows of her life.  There are parts of the book that I read thinking "she's a better person than I am, I would be livid." But then you realize why she chose to share her experience.  For anyone who's been divorced, a single parent, or anyone who wants to be inspired by Kirsten's pure resiliency I recommend this book. Kirsten's writing is vulnerable and she delivers a strong message about forgiveness and acceptance. This book is a gift to the reader and will help you understand how those who disappoint us can also teach us some of live's most important lessons.     

  29. 4 out of 5

    BreeAnn (She Just Loves Books)

    What an absolutely stunning story! I was completely entranced by this memoir! Mickelwait lays her emotional journey out in the pages of her memoir, bringing us all into her life. When Kirsten Mickelwait married Steve, she could see the bright future they had ahead of them, but years down the road, the life isn’t so bright and beautiful. Steve is addicted to opioids, cheating on Kirsten, and emotionally abusing her. They divorce, but then Steve dies, and Kirsten finds out there’s one more blow to What an absolutely stunning story! I was completely entranced by this memoir! Mickelwait lays her emotional journey out in the pages of her memoir, bringing us all into her life. When Kirsten Mickelwait married Steve, she could see the bright future they had ahead of them, but years down the road, the life isn’t so bright and beautiful. Steve is addicted to opioids, cheating on Kirsten, and emotionally abusing her. They divorce, but then Steve dies, and Kirsten finds out there’s one more blow to come. Steve has left her with $1.5 million in debts. This was a story that created an incredibly emotional connection for me. I was invested in Kirsten’s story, and I needed to know what was going to happen. How was she going to get through this. There is a spiritual aspect to this story that I really enjoyed as well. I would recommend this memoir to any reader that likes understanding how people overcome monumental struggles. I was provided a gifted copy of this book for free. I am leaving my review voluntarily.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sharon Davis

    I was frankly fascinated by this true story of a crumbling marriage, and the havoc a vengeful spouse can wreak. This is a very candid account of a wife watching a beloved husband and the father of her children begin a slow descent into a kind of madness. His unraveling sense of self takes a toll on everyone he holds most dear, but he seems powerless to stop his unhealthy and selfish behavior. As the author attempts to crawl from the wreckage of their marriage, he seems even more determined to ta I was frankly fascinated by this true story of a crumbling marriage, and the havoc a vengeful spouse can wreak. This is a very candid account of a wife watching a beloved husband and the father of her children begin a slow descent into a kind of madness. His unraveling sense of self takes a toll on everyone he holds most dear, but he seems powerless to stop his unhealthy and selfish behavior. As the author attempts to crawl from the wreckage of their marriage, he seems even more determined to take her down with him. I was impressed with her ability to rebuild her life and care for her children, but her husband's invisible hand on her shoulder haunts her until she is able to find her way to forgiveness. I think many women reading this memoir will identify with her struggles and her attempt to reconnect with her true self. I found this to be a gripping read, with the dramatic pacing of a novel. I recommend it.

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