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Authors: Judy Blume

Smart Women

BOOK: Smart Women
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Praise for the novels of Judy Blume


“An excellent novel . . . I’m still in shock.”
—The Cleveland Plain Dealer

“It works perfectly . . . wit, pathos, and the ring of real life.”
—Los Angeles Examiner

“A very likable heroine . . . a nice, upper-middle-class housewife with a very dirty mind . . . Hide it where the children won’t see it.”
—The Cincinnati Enquirer

Summer Sisters

“An exceptionally moving story that can leave the reader laughing and crying . . . sometimes at the same time.”
—The Denver Post

“Compulsively readable . . . her powers are prodigious.”
—The New York Times Book Review

“As warm as a summer breeze blowing through your hair, as nostalgic as James Taylor singing ‘How Sweet It Is.’ You remember. So does Judy Blume. How sweet it was.”
—Chicago Tribune

books by judy blume

For Adults


Smart Women

Summer Sisters

For Young Adults

Forever . . .

Tiger Eyes

Letters to Judy: What Kids Wish They Could Tell You

Places I Never Meant to Be: Original Stories by Censored Writers
(edited by Judy Blume)

For Young Readers

The Pain and the Great One

The One in the Middle Is the Green Kangaroo

Freckle Juice

The Fudge Books

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing

Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great



Double Fudge



Iggie’s House

Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret

It’s Not the End of the World


Then Again, Maybe I Won’t

Just as Long as We’re Together

Here’s to You, Rachel Robinson


Published by the Penguin Group

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Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)

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Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196,

South Africa


Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England


This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.


Copyright © 1983 by Judy Blume.

“Introduction” copyright © 2004 by Judy Blume.

Cover design copyright © by Honi Werner.

Text design by Stephanie Huntwork.


The author gratefully acknowledges permission from Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Publishers, the Estate of Robert Frost, and Jonathan Cape Ltd. to quote from “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” from
The Poetry of Robert Frost,
edited by Edward Connery Lathem. Copyright 1923, © 1969 by Holt, Rinehart and Winston. Copyright 1951 by Robert Frost.


All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

BERKLEY is a registered trademark of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

The “B” design is a trademark belonging to Penguin Group (USA) Inc.



G. P. Putnam’s Sons hardcover edition / November 2004

Berkley trade paperback edition / October 2005


ISBN: 978-1-101-57256-6


The Library of Congress has catalogued the G. P. Putnam’s Sons hardcover edition as follows:


Blume, Judy.

  Smart women / Judy Blume.

      p.  cm.

    ISBN 0-399-15236-9

    1. Women—Colorado—Fiction.  2. Female friendship—Fiction.  3. Boulder (Colo.)—Fiction.
  4. Divorced women—Fiction.  5. Single mothers—Fiction.  I. Title.

  PS3552.L843S6    2004            2004048841



To Ruth Kovnat

A smart woman and dear friend.

Thank you for being there for me.

Table of Contents



Also By Judy Blume

Title Page





Part 1

















Part 2
















Part 3
















Part 4







Special Preview


N 1979,
and living in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with two teenagers. I was thankful for my work, but convinced I would never find a lasting love relationship when, bam!—it hit me all over again. Falling in love at forty (or any age) is
, just like the song says. But this time around you bring all that baggage with you, not to mention your kids, who might not think it’s all as romantic as you do. What teenager wants to know anything about mom’s or dad’s sex life?

This was the seed that started me writing
Smart Women.

When I began to write the book, I planned to tell the story from the adults’ viewpoint only, and although there would be kids in it, this time I wasn’t going to take their side. I hoped my daughter and son would understand. But once I got going, I fell in love with both Sara and Michelle, the daughters, respectively, of the two main characters, B.B. and Margo. I had to let them have their say. They provide the humor and poignancy in the story.

While my children were growing up I was careful not to use them in my books—careful of their privacy. But my daughter believes that Michelle is based on her (when she was that age) and maybe she’s right. Maybe that’s why Michelle is my favorite character in the book. I love her vulnerability. I love her for giving her mother a hard time because she cares about her and can’t bear to see the family painfully disrupted again. Is there any relationship more complicated than that of mothers and daughters, especially when mom is divorced and dating?

Smart Women
takes place in the early eighties, a time when some of us thought we could have it all. We celebrated what we called our
I’m not sure what we thought personal freedom meant, but it certainly included sexual freedom (this was before we knew the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS). Freedom was a word we bandied about, telling ourselves we deserved it, we’d worked long and hard to get it. Freedom didn’t mean freedom from responsibility, because we had children and most of us cared deeply about them. Maybe it meant freedom to make our own decisions, to make our own mistakes. There’s a scene in the book in which Margo sits in the bathtub singing the lyrics Kris Kristofferson made famous: “Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose.” But is that what we really believed?

Sure, we were proud of our work, proud we could support ourselves, and we weren’t about to stay in bad marriages. Why should we? (Just look at the statistics: Our generation married young and divorced often.) But when it came right down to it, most of us still wanted a man in the house, a man in our bed—just
the man we married the first time. We wanted one of those new and enlightened types, the kind we’d been reading about. But who were these men? Where were they? In Margo’s case, he’s the ex-husband of her new friend and he’s come to town to spend time with his young daughter.

Of course, everyone who knew me assumed the story was all true since George, the man in my life, was the former husband of a new friend. (She’s the one who fixed us up: How civilized is that? How eighties?) But all the characters in the book (okay, except for some parts of Michelle) are fictional.

Once I started writing
Smart Women
I realized I needed to set it outside Santa Fe. I needed a town that wouldn’t intrude on my story. Santa Fe was too strong a setting and besides, we lived there; our children went to school there. Until then, I’d never set a book in a place I didn’t know well. My friends were anxious to help in my quest for the perfect setting, sharing their enthusiasm for Mendocino, Port Townsend, and Telluride. George and I checked out their suggestions, but none of them felt right. It was my secretary, who had come to Santa Fe from Boulder, who thought that that university town might be just the place I was looking for. And she was right. We spent a week there chatting with everyone and taking photos of houses, offices, galleries, and restaurants. I needed to imagine Margo and B.B. at home and at work, and the kids at school. I kept those photos on my desk for more than a year as I wrote the book.

BOOK: Smart Women
7.91Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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