Sunday, August 09, 2015

“Woman On The Verge Of Paradise”

For Paradise blogger Robyn Alana Engel, it’s “Life By Chocolate” (, “finding sweetness in the light and dark” even in “the challenges of dating (and) my related rationale for celibacy.”

There’s history behind all this, and it’s on display in what Engel calls her “memoir-ish novel”: “It’s 100% true and 100% creative. We’ll call it creative non-fiction.” And readers are duly warned: “I do not recommend this book for: 1) Children 2) The Narrow-minded or 3) Martha Stewart.”

In “Woman On The Verge Of Paradise” ($12.99 in paperback from CreateSpace; also for Amazon Kindle), a narrator named Robyn Engel charts the course of a life beset by naiveté, emotional turmoil, a series of failed men-counters, all haunted by the number thirteen. Her list at the end of “alternative book titles” gives a hint of what lies within: “Fifty Shades Of Erectile Dysfunction”; “Robyn Engel: A West Coast Carrie Bradshaw Minus The Sex, Glam, Glitz, and 5,000 Square Foot Closet.”
Loved by her mother, emotionally ignored by her father, Robyn is in search of acceptance. She attends UCLA, becomes a social worker, is quoted in the 25th anniversary issue of Penthouse Magazine in 1994, and is constantly on the prowl for romance (i.e., sex).

“I hated being unmarried, without kids, and a thirty-something year old virgin. I felt like there was something horribly, embarrassingly wrong with me.” Finding the “right guy” was a challenge. Even Simon doesn’t work out; he “was blind date number 12,462.”

“So,” she laments, “like hundreds of thousands of single marriage-minded Jews worldwide, I registered with Jdate dot com. This highly popular Jewish dating site assures ‘no more blind date blahs.’” They lied.

Eventually Justin enters her life, thirteen (!) years older than Robyn, who is nearing 40. They marry, but Justin’s explosive anger fractures the relationship. Divorcing, Robyn moves from the Bay Area to Paradise, tries the Chico dating scene, and starts a blog, striving for “sass and inspiration.”

There is no fairytale ending. Yet there is hope: “I’m on the verge … of believing to the depth of my being that I’m worthy … my life adds importance to this world. It’s significant, because I am.” 

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