The art of a good divorce (hint: write a book)

By Gillian Orr

A public farewell to marital bliss seems the mark of a 21st century divorce. Photo / Thinkstock
A public farewell to marital bliss seems the mark of a 21st century divorce. Photo / Thinkstock

D-I-V-O-R-C-E, spells out Tammy Wynette, in what is arguably the most famous song about the end of a marriage ever recorded. Wynette may not have actually written the 1968 hit, but anyone familiar with the pained vocal would not be surprised to learn that she had already been divorced twice.

Today, Katy Perry's new film, Katy Perry: Part of Me - which was intended to be a celebration of her hugely successful California Dreams tour - has evolved into a candid account of her divorce from Russell Brand, her husband of just one year. Perry's hit Part of Me has joined a long list of songs about divorce, inspired by the breakdown of real marriages, which includes the likes of Abba's The Winner Takes It All, Paul Simon's 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover, and Your Mother and I by Loudon Wainwright III. Marvin Gaye famously made a whole album about it, Here, My Dear, so called because his ex-wife was to receive profits of the record as part of the divorce settlement.

Naturally, divorce has inspired a ton of memoirs, some of the most prominent being Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love, Susan Gregory Thomas' In Spite of Everything, and Stacy Morrison's Falling Apart in One Piece, the ubiquity of which prompted Elle to dub the genre "divorce porn" in 2010.

A slew of women have also published novels that are thinly veiled accounts of their own marriage breakdowns. Nora Ephron, who died last week, penned Heartburn about her divorce from Carl Bernstein; Olivia Goldsmith's acrimonious divorce inspired The First Wives Club, and Fay Weldon's Splitting was published the year after she divorced her husband, Ron. With recently released figures reporting that there were 119,610 new divorces in the UK last year, it's safe to assume there will always be an audience for these gut-wrenching tales of what went wrong and who was wronged.

- INDEPENDENT

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