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August 11, 2010


Posted by Dana

mennonite-med.jpgLast week my book club got together to discuss MENNONITE IN A LITTLE BLACK DRESS.  I should have insisted we all wear little black dresses - even the guys... that would've been fun.

Kidding aside, I personally liked the book, but overall the group’s reviews were lukewarm.

The book, a memoir by Rhoda Janzen, is about her returning to her Mennonite family after her husband leaves her for a man he met on  If that wasn’t enough, she can’t afford the mortgage on her house and she ends up with a nice collection of broken bones from a pretty bad car wreck.

We all agreed that the premise was good, but generally the feeling was that Rhoda didn’t really give us the truth.  Either that or she somehow doesn’t feel pain.  We enjoyed her humor and loved her Mom, but wondered how she really felt.

She generally seemed pretty nonplussed by things that would’ve sent most women into years of therapy or at least to the bottom of big box of wine.

And as for the title, though she did go back to her Mennonite family – her Mennonite-ness wasn’t really an issue.  Going back didn’t seem to bother her and no one really seemed bothered that she had left the fold in the first place.  Janzen did include a really good primer on the religion at the end of the book but we would have liked to have seen more of that woven throughout.  And while we’re talking about the title, I’m pretty sure there was no appearance of any little black dress.  I know I’m being literal here, but I think the point is that what could’ve and maybe should’ve been something like a clash of cultures was more like a dull thud.

Alas Rhoda really does have impeccable comic timing and a biting wit that I really did enjoy.  So for entertainment's sake - a good read... though not sure it made for the best discussion.

Have you read it?  What did you think?

-- Dana Barrett, Contributing Editor