Monday, November 14, 2011

Book Review - Mennonite in a Little Black Dress

I'm back into my usual reading pace (a book every two - three weeks) since I stalled out on The Tudors over the summer.  Mennonite in a Little Black Dress (Holt Paperback, 2009) by Rhoda Janzen was an easy read.  It is subtitled (A Memoir of Going Home) and that's exactly what it is.  Anyone who has ever left home for any amount of time will easily relate to returning and finding that while nothing has changed, nothing is quite the same either.

Rhoda Janzen was raised in the Mennonite faith, but left to pursue a life in academia.  When her marriage fell apart (because her husband left her for Bob, a guy he met on, and she was in a terrible car accident in the same week, she felt that she had little choice but to return to her roots to heal her body and soul.  Her stories of her quirky family, with its quirky religious traditions, are hysterical.

Being an academic, Janzen is a rebel in the Mennonite community, which prides hard work and a simple life.  She explains many Mennonite customs as she goes through the book to help those unfamiliar with the religion understand.

She explores her failed marriage with her abusive, bi-polar husband, addressing both of their faults in its demise through the context of being raised as a submissive Mennonite woman.  She also delves into her relationship with her family.  Leaving the Mennonite community made it harder for her to relate to her brothers, but he mother always accepted her with open arms.

The stories of Janzen's mother are the highlight of the book in my opinion.  Her mother seems so matter-of-fact about everything in life, and her cheery outlook help the author through this horrible time.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning about the Mennonite community (not necessarily a history of it, but some of the customs), or anyone who likes "going home" stories (this is the reason I picked it out).  It's very funny, and a quick read!

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Barbie said...

Oh! I should give it a try! Cultures like Mennonite, Orthodox Jews, etc. always fascinate me. And who doesn't love a good 'coming home' story?!

LOVE MELISSA:) said...

Love this book!

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