Early on in Is Monogamy Dead?, comedian Rosie Wilby explains that ‘monogamy’ originates from the Greek words monos gamos, meaning ‘one marriage for life’. The book that follows is an honest, sometimes funny, sometimes poignant exploration of a concept which, for many, seems outdated, if not unworkable in a twenty-first century framework.

Aged 40, Wilby hit a crossroads, monogamy the ‘monster’ yapping at her heels. With four serious relationships and subsequent debilitating breakups behind her, she felt life was like the Titanic, comedy her ‘lifeboat’ and monogamy the ‘iceberg’. So, she decided to meet the beast head on and try to understand it, or at least have a good laugh at it.

Is Monogamy Dead? is part memoir, part sociological study, Wilby talking to friends, scientists, academics and other experts and also, rather courageously, putting herself and her personal relationships on the frontline to explore the viability of monogamy. Concluding that sexuality is a fluid, rather ‘slippery’ concept, she also found that she might not be as gay as she thought she was when she first came out, some‘thing I would imagine would be hugely discombobulating, if not terrifying.

Wilby found that one of the particular sticking points in discussing her own romantic life was a lack of vocabulary. ‘If we don’t have words for a particular kind of loving relationship, we can’t talk about it and it remains invisible.’ And, at the end of the book, she includes a rather useful and entertaining list of her favourite phrase and terms, some existing, some new, some that she herself made up, such as ‘metamours’ (your partner’s partner), ‘cuddle buddy’ (a platonic cuddle partner’) and ‘breadcrumbing’ (leading someone on with flirty texts and calls with no intention of acting on it).

‘Love can be hard work along with all the amazing bits,’ she says. ‘So let’s hold each other’s hands and work out how to go about relationships in this scary, busy digital twenty-first century.

‘This is a call to arms. Love army are you ready?’

Oh, yes. Are you?


Is Monogamy Dead? | Rosie Wilby | Accent Press | paperback | £8.99 | other editions available

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Rosie Wilby is performing at the following venues:

Words lineup at Port Eliot Festival, 2pm, The Bowling Green stage, Sunday 28 July, with guests Katy Brand and Miranda Sawyer, discussing about love, dating, breakups and more. A live recording of her comedy chat show and podcast The Breakup Monologues.

Wilderness FestivalFriday 2 August, House of Sublime, 4.45pm, a comedy talk based on Is Monogamy Dead? 

Curious Arts Festival, Sunday 25 August, 7.30pm, a comedy talk based on her book Is Monogamy Dead?

For full gig listings, go to Rosie Wilby’s site.


Acknowledgements: Book text quotes © Rosie Wilby 2017. Thank you to Virginia MacNaughton and the publisher for sending us a review copy and jacket image. All opinions are our own. All rights reserved.


Also of interest:Permission by Saskia Vogel’; ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’; ‘Blood Orange’; ‘We should all be feminists’; The not-so-invisible woman: 150 greats in their own words’;RW Kwon’s The Incendiaries’; ‘How Penguin learned to fly – Allen Lane and the Original “Penguin Ten”’; Dorothy L. Sayer’s Busman’s Holiday – Romek Marber for Penguin Crime (book covers we love).

Select Q&As/interviews: ;‘Lilja Sigurðardóttir’; ‘Vanda Symon’; Some like it hot – the joy of Carole Mortimer, award-winning novelist‘; Gina Kirkham;


This review is © 2019 by The Literary Shed. All rights reserved. All opinions are our own. We welcome your feedback and comments. If you wish to reproduce this piece, please do contact us to request permission. Thank you so much.




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