Patton’s book is based off of a letter she wrote to her alma mater’s student newspaper, The Daily Princetonian, last year. The letter urged female students to take advantage of all the intelligent and elite men on campus because the mate selection in college is probably as good as it’s going to get.
Her book reprints this letter, albeit without acknowledging that two paragraphs from the original have been edited out — one large paragraph about her initial motivation to give relationship advice and another section about her two sons, both Princetonians.
Jennifer Robinson, the director of publicity for the book’s publisher, Gallery Books, confirmed to Business Insider that “The letter is the letter that was printed in the Daily Princetonian with references to her sons and a classmate removed” because they were “not directly relevant to the topic of the book.”
However, it’s not entirely clear how irrelevant the removed paragraphs were.
One of the original paragraphs that does not appear in “Marry Smart” includes an anecdote that illustrates when Patton first realised that young women may need more than just career advice. While at a Women and Leadership conference at Princeton, Patton met with a group of current female undergraduates who asked her and a friend “about the value of our friendship, about our husbands and children,” she writes in the original letter.
“Clearly, you don’t want any more career advice. At your core, you know that there are other things that you need that nobody is addressing. A lifelong friend is one of them. Finding the right man to marry is another,” Patton continues.
While this story does not appear in the edited letter reprinted in “Marry Smart,” Patton uses the same anecdote in the first pages of her introduction. Patton writes in “Marry Smart” about meeting with the Princeton undergraduates at the Women and Leadership conference, and that “all eight aspired to marriage and motherhood — but not one of them wanted to admit it.”
More specifically, she writes, “It was clear to me that someone had to talk with them honestly about finding husbands, getting married, and having babies … So I decided to write a letter to the editor, addressed to the daughters I never had.”
Although it is clearly very relevant to the theme of “Marry Smart,” Robinson said this anecdote was omitted from the reprinted letter “for no other reason other than it was repetitive.”
In the other edited section about her sons, there is another removed connection to “Marry Smart.” While writing about her daughter-in-law, Patton notes her son’s “judgment and great fortune to marry a classmate of his,” which seems to be living proof of the author’s argument and advice.
From the original letter, here is the full removed paragraph on Patton’s friend, which also addresses when the author realised that young women may need marriage advice:
A few weeks ago, I attended the Women and Leadership conference on campus that featured a conversation between President Shirley Tilghman and Wilson School professor Anne-Marie Slaughter, and I participated in the breakout session afterward that allowed current undergraduate women to speak informally with older and presumably wiser alumnae. I attended the event with my best friend since our freshman year in 1973. You girls glazed over at preliminary comments about our professional accomplishments and the importance of networking. Then the conversation shifted in tone and interest level when one of you asked how have Kendall and I sustained a friendship for 40 years. You asked if we were ever jealous of each other. You asked about the value of our friendship, about our husbands and children. Clearly, you don’t want any more career advice. At your core, you know that there are other things that you need that nobody is addressing. A lifelong friend is one of them. Finding the right man to marry is another.
And here is the removed section on her two sons:
I am the mother of two sons who are both Princetonians. My older son had the good judgment and great fortune to marry a classmate of his, but he could have married anyone. My younger son is a junior and the universe of women he can marry is limitless.
This may not seem like a lot to take out, but without these paragraphs the letter loses any sense that this is advice students wanted to hear, as well as Patton’s connection to the issue. The omissions leave a looming question — why was this written?
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