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Mennonite in a Little Black Dress is simply a great read, simultaneously funny, wrenching, and—always crucial to Chick Lit—heartwarming. But Janzen not only keeps her musings accessible, she keeps herself accessible as a narrator, repeatedly poking fun at her own bookishness. And while the humor might at first seem light, it also helps Janzen recount her recovery from a staggering series of tragedies—botched surgery, a severe car accident, an abusive husband, and divorce—without tugging readers into the abyss with her.

Yet she returns to her family, and the Mennonite community she grew up in, to heal—and although her life is far from resolved at the end of the book, she does seem to be at home. In short, unless it falls prey to the stripped-down marketing budgets of a flailing publishing industry, this book is going to be huge, as the gushing back-jacket blurb from Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the blockbuster memoir Eat, Pray, Love, suggests.

This example speaks a language that readers from a range of backgrounds are likely to understand. To her surprise, her husband is great at nursing her back to health. Then he leaves her for a guy named Bob that he met online.

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A week later, Rhoda is in a terrible car accident. Unable to really get around and unable to afford her house payments alone , she moves back in with her parents, temporarily. Which means she becomes reimmersed in Mennonite culture. Most of us are probably pretty unfamiliar with the Mennonites.

Mennonite In A Little Black Dress

They are not the Amish - in fact the Amish split with them centuries ago because the Mennonites were so liberal - but liberal is not a word anyone would use to describe them. Rhoda's church had an outhouse.

Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen – review

Her mother had grown up wearing clothes made from flour sacks. Rhoda and her first boyfriend in high school dated for a year without even French kissing - because they had no idea it existed. As someone who has lived fully in the secular world for over 20 years, she is the perfect person to introduce us to Mennonite culture. Also it's refreshing that she didn't have any great falling out with the religion herself - it's just not for her, but she respects her parents' beliefs and still likes the food and hymns. Throughout the narrative, as small incidents of everyday life are conveyed, Rhoda is healing both physically, and emotionally.

We get details of her tumultuous life with her artistic, bipolar husband. Returning home was obviously soothing to her soul as well as her body. And her mother is hilarious. Hilary Huber does a good job is giving the different characters different voices although all fairly nasal though that's not her normal voice , but Rhoda's mother's voice is the best.


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The slightly childish aspect of the tone matches up perfectly to her upbeat, effervescent personality. There is an explanation of the Mennonites at the end of the book.

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I listened to this book in bed and kept waking up my spouse because I was cracking up. There were even a few occasions when an actual snort escaped me. I had to turn the book off at that point, just for the sake of harmony in the old bedroom. If you were the kind of person like me who couldn't wait to get away from the place where you grew up, only to realize later all the wonders you left behind--you will love this book. In particular, I loved the author's rendering of her mother, a doggedly sunny ball of energy with a penchant for dopey scatalogical references, all within the context of a severe and austere religion.

Much to laugh at here.

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I hope Janzen does a follow-up book on her mom! She is a character and, oh, how I do mean that about and from whom I'd love to hear more. I think the narrator did a great job. Her tone is wry and tough when the humor calls for it, and soft when detailing some of the more painful moments. The narrators voice was difficult to listen to for so long. The story shallow. There were funny lines. Overall I found it boring. Enjoyed the strong performance by the narrator. It was interesting too to hear about Mennonite views. Pretty down to earth in observations. A sarcastic sense of humour but always sounding truthful.

I left when her mother is serving tuna sandwiches while descriving puss all these in two chapters. I am not of a weak stomach but I do not see the point of suffering through someones medical and psychological history in a totally valueless manner, and with disorganized writing; better books and thing to do with my life. This had a great review in the Telegraph so I downloaded it for a long car journey and boy am I glad I did, It is quite brilliant.

I didn't laugh out loud a lot but had a big smile on my face most of the time, which probably worried other drivers! It's a beautifully read story of life in middle age beset by the kind of trials that life hurls at you when you think you're doing alright but in this case Rhoda Janzen has the guts to get back up with the help of her eccentric family and face it full on, then write a book about it.

It's funny, it's sad, it's upbuilding, it's family, it's life. I have read and now also listened to this book. Your audiobook is waiting….

By: Rhoda Janzen. Narrated by: Hillary Huber. Length: 8 hrs and 15 mins. People who bought this also bought Mennonite Meets Mr. Becoming Mrs. Publisher's Summary A hilarious and moving memoir in the spirit of Anne Lamott and Nora Ephron about a woman who returns home to her Mennonite family after a personal crisis.


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