Self-Contained by Emma John – Blog Tour Review

Title: Self-Contained

Author: Emma John

Genre: Memoir

Publisher: Cassell

Publication Date: 6th May 2021

Rating: 4.5/5



There is a piece of cod-wisdom regularly dispensed to single women: romance will arrive when you least expect it. I had assumed it would also make its own travel arrangements too. 

Emma John is in her 40s; she is neither married, nor partnered, with child or planning to be. 

In her hilarious and unflinching memoir, Self Contained, she asks why the world only views a woman as complete when she is no longer a single figure and addresses what it means to be alone when everyone else isn’t. 

In her book, she captures what it is to be single in your forties, from sharing a twin room with someone you’ve never met on a group holiday (because the couples have all the doubles with ensuite) to coming to the realisation that maybe your singleness isn’t a temporary arrangement, that maybe you aren’t pre-married at all, and in fact you are self-contained.


I was massively intrigued by this book as soon as I read the blurb. I am, and have been for a long time, a single woman. I’m in my late 20’s so not in the exact same life stage as the author but there was A LOT in Self-Contained that I related to and I found it such a valuable, often very funny and nuanced exploration of what it means to be single when most of your friends and family aren’t.

Emma John is incredibly honest throughout the entire book – she doesn’t simply make the entirely valid point that it is perfectly ok to be single and that does not make you in need of pity or reassurance that you’ll find someone. She goes further and really looks into why there is so much stigma not just stemming from society and other people but also the ingrained stigma that is often found within ourselves. She takes the reader through her journey as a single woman with a self-awareness, wit and humour which I found both enjoyable and endearing. She is candid about her own faults and strengths in a way which makes you feel that you are being taken into her confidence in a genuine way. I faced a lot of my own insecurities whilst reading Self-Contained but by the time I reached the end I did actually feel a little more at peace with the circumstances of my own life. I would highly recommend this smart and funny memoir, whether you are single or not!


Thank you so much to Anne Cater of Random Things Blog Tours for inviting me on this tour and organising it. I kindly received a copy of the book from the publisher. My review is entirely my own honest opinion.

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