Unremarried Widow

A Memoir

Unremarried Widow

“A frank, poignant memoir about an unlikely marriage, a tragic death in Iraq, and the soul-testing work of picking up the pieces” (People) in the tradition of such powerful bestsellers as Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking and Carole Radziwill’s What Remains.

Artis Henderson was a free-spirited young woman with dreams of traveling the world and one day becoming a writer. Marrying a conservative Texan soldier and becoming an Army wife was never part of her plan, but when she met Miles, Artis threw caution to the wind and moved with him to a series of Army bases in dusty Southern towns, far from the exotic future of her dreams. If this was true love, she was ready to embrace it.

But when Miles was training and Artis was left alone, she experienced feelings of isolation and anxiety. It did not take long for a wife’s worst fears to come true. On November 6, 2006, the Apache helicopter carrying Miles crashed in Iraq, leaving twenty-six-year-old Artis—in official military terms—an “unremarried widow.”

In this memoir Artis recounts not only the unlikely love story she shared with Miles and her unfathomable recovery in the wake of his death—from the dark hours following the military notification to the first fumbling attempts at new love—but also reveals how Miles’s death mirrored her own father’s, in a plane crash that Artis survived when she was five years old and that left her own mother a young widow. Unremarried Widow is “a powerful look at mourning as a military wife….You can finish it in a day and find yourself haunted weeks later” (The New York Times Book Review).


Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Unremarried Widow includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Artis Henderson. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


A world traveler, Artis Henderson dreamed of living abroad after college and one day becoming a writer. Marrying a conservative Texan soldier and being an Army wife was never in her plan. Nor was the devastating helicopter crash that took his life soon after their marriage. Unremarried Widow is a memoir about the unlikely ways love brings people together and the struggle to carry on after losing the love of your life.  

Topics & Questions for Discussion 

1. Early in the book, we learn that Artis’s father was a pilot, just like Miles, and that he too was killed in a crash. The first time Artis’s mother meets Miles, she tells Artis he is just like her father. How do you see Artis’s family history affecting the decisions she makes? How do you think that knowledge and those memories influenced how she felt about getting involved with a pilot?
2. “What if you love someone with all your heart but you’re afraid that being see more

Articles About This Book

Off the shelf vertical blog post

Posted on Off the Shelf

Posted by Grace Stearns

“Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it,” Joan Didion concludes at the close of her 2011 memoir A Year of Magical Thinking. “Nor can we know ahead of the fact (and here lies the heart of the difference between grief as we...

About the Author

Artis Henderson
Photograph courtesy of the author

Artis Henderson

Artis Henderson is an award-winning journalist and essayist whose work has appeared in The New York Times, Reader’s Digest, Florida Weekly, and the online literary journal Common Ties. She has an undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a graduate degree from Columbia University’s School of Journalism. She lives in New York.