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Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home (original 2009; edition 2010)

by Rhoda Janzen

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,4561535,141 (3.3)89
Member:amyblue
Title:Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home
Authors:Rhoda Janzen
Info:St. Martin's Griffin (2010), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 272 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:read in 2012, memoir, unfinished

Work details

Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home by Rhoda Janzen (2009)

  1. 20
    Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert (foggidawn)
    foggidawn: Both of these books deal with a woman looking for meaning and trying to deal with failed relationships in their past -- one travels the world, the other goes home, but both have written heartfelt and funny memoirs about the experience.
  2. 10
    The Possibility of Everything by Hope Edelman (Alliebadger)
  3. 10
    The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance: A Memoir by Elna Baker (LAKobow)
  4. 00
    Love Shrinks: A Memoir of a Marriage Counselor's Divorce by Sharyn Wolf (FFortuna)
  5. 00
    I'm Down: A Memoir by Mishna Wolff (amyblue)
    amyblue: Both books are funny and thoughtful memoirs of somewhat unusual childhoods.
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Showing 1-5 of 153 (next | show all)
This was an entertaining read. I am not a biography-lover, so it fell a little flat for me as the chapters wore on. However, the relationships were vibrant and well-played and the situations elicited a smile, smirk or grimace. I recommend this one. ( )
  CarmenMilligan | Jan 18, 2016 |
Although this began funny, it isn't funny. It's serious, thought provoking, and very well written with bright spots of humor. You have to like someone who can laugh at themselves.

There's something to be said about someone in an abusive relationship, that when the relationship ends isn't bitter or whining.....who takes it for what it was and moves on with their lives. I like that!

My favorite quote from Rhoda's mother in regards to young male religious zealots: "Oh, they'll mellow over time. When you're young faith is often a matter of rules. What you should do and what you shouldn't do, that kind of thing. But as you get older you realize, that faith is really a matter of relationship---with God, with the people around you, and with members of your community."

I had a difficult time putting it down, but I did have to go to sleep....and it kept my attention all the while playing FV, so I read more than I played. ( )
  Auntie-Nanuuq | Jan 18, 2016 |
Rhoda grew up in a California Mennonite community with two college educated parents, 2 brothers and 1 sister. After Rhoda left home for her own college education she met the handsome, charismatic Nick and after a short courtship (several weeks) the two were married. The marriage would last 15 years but it was never smooth sailing. Nick was diagnosed as bipolar but refused to take his medication saying it stifled his creativity but the non-medicated Nick was antagonistic, destructive and hurtful. When Nick finally left Rhoda it was for another man he had met on a gay website. Shortly after that Rhoda was in a serious car accident and she felt the best medicine for her body and soul would be to return to her parents’ home.

Once again ensconced in the Mennonite life Rhoda revisits her childhood in the tight-knit community but painfully, and sometimes hilariously, relives public school days when she and her siblings were definitely outsiders. Their clothing, their food and the taboos placed upon them by their religion made for some difficult days. Rhoda questions her religious beliefs as well trying to find her place in both worlds.

For the most part I enjoyed this book and I do think I would like Rhoda if I met her. She easily pokes fun at herself and tells many stories that make her the butt of the joke. Her mother is a jewel and I just love her optimism and sunny disposition. Unfortunately for me it is very obvious that Rhoda is light-years ahead of me in vocabulary because there must have been 200 words at least that I have honestly never seen before. I guess since she has a PhD in English this is not surprising.
( )
  Ellen_R | Jan 15, 2016 |
From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. At first, the worst week of Janzen's life—she gets into a debilitating car wreck right after her husband leaves her for a guy he met on the Internet and saddles her with a mortgage she can't afford—seems to come out of nowhere, but the disaster's long buildup becomes clearer as she opens herself up. Her 15-year relationship with Nick had always been punctuated by manic outbursts and verbally abusive behavior, so recognizing her co-dependent role in their marriage becomes an important part of Janzen's recovery (even as she tweaks the 12 steps just a bit). The healing is further assisted by her decision to move back in with her Mennonite parents, prompting her to look at her childhood religion with fresh, twinkling eyes. (She provides an appendix for those unfamiliar with Mennonite culture, as well as a list of shame-based foods from hot potato salad to borscht.) Janzen is always ready to gently turn the humor back on herself, though, and women will immediately warm to the self-deprecating honesty with which she describes the efforts of friends and family to help her re-establish her emotional well-being. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. ( )
  lmbigens | May 9, 2015 |
The writing is very intelligent. Mennonite phrases or terms are well explained. The beginning brings laughter as Rhoda [a:Rhoda Janzen|2885514|Rhoda Janzen|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1276006919p2/2885514.jpg] comes to terms with her situation. These are the ramblings of a woman who has gone through a hard marriage, an accident, and now on her sabbatical is understanding what it is that life is offering her. She needs to connect with her foundations, 'go back to her roots' and accept the person she is. Not that we needed it but I would have enjoyed more on her later relationship with Soren. ( )
  sharlenehsmith | Mar 9, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 153 (next | show all)
“Mennonite in a Little Black Dress” is loose and gossipy, organic and unhurried without losing control. It has “a real nice shape,” to use a compliment one matchmaker applies to Janzen herself... I loved this book, and Rhoda Janzen. She is a terrific, pithy, beautiful writer, a reliable, sympathetic narrator and a fantastically good sport.
 
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Epigraph
Dedication
For Mary Loewen Janzen
First words
The year I turned forty-three was the year I realized I should have never taken my Mennonite genes for granted.
Quotations
"When you're young, faith is often a matter of rules. What you should do and shouldn't do, that kind of thing. But as you get older, you realize that faith is really a matter of relationship - with God, with the people around you, with the members of your community" (p 137)
Wrapped in his own misery and despair, he was incapable of the simple practiced presence that love demands. (p 171)
I'd never minded the little things in Nick's behavior; I'd never even noticed them. It was after Nick had left me that I learned the lesson: it's when you don't love somebody that you do notice the little things. Then you mind them. You mind them terribly. (p 181)
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Book description
Not long after Rhoda Janzen turned forty, her world turned upside down. It was bad enough that her husband of fifteen years left her for Bob, a guy he met on Gay.com, but that same week a car accident left her injured. Needing a place to rest and pick up the pieces of her life, Rhoda packed her bags, crossed the country, and returned to her quirky Mennonite family's home, where she was welcomed back with open arms and offbeat advice. (Rhoda's good-natured mother suggested she get over her heartbreak by dating her first cousin—he owned a tractor, see.)

Written with wry humor and huge personality—and tackling faith, love, family, and aging—Mennonite in a Little Black Dress is an immensely moving memoir of healing, certain to touch anyone who has ever had to look homeward in order to move ahead.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0805092250, Paperback)

"It is rare that I literally laugh out loud while I'm reading, but Janzen's voice—singular, deadpan, sharp-witted and honest—slayed me." —Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love

Not long after Rhoda Janzen turned forty, her world turned upside down. It was bad enough that her husband of fifteen years left her for Bob, a guy he met on Gay.com, but that same week a car accident left her injured. Needing a place to rest and pick up the pieces of her life, Rhoda packed her bags, crossed the country, and returned to her quirky Mennonite family's home, where she was welcomed back with open arms and offbeat advice. (Rhoda's good-natured mother suggested she get over her heartbreak by dating her first cousin—he owned a tractor, see.)

Written with wry humor and huge personality—and tackling faith, love, family, and aging—Mennonite in a Little Black Dress is an immensely moving memoir of healing, certain to touch anyone who has ever had to look homeward in order to move ahead.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:05 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

A hilarious and moving memoir--in the spirit of Anne Lamott and Nora Ephron--about a woman who returns home to her close-knit Mennonite family after a personal crisis.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 6 descriptions

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