Last night my chapter of the Better World Book Club got together to discuss MENNONITE IN A LITTLE BLACK DRESS at the Whole Foods on Ponce de Leon Ave in Atlanta.
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 gay.com. 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 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 wasn’t a black dress at all. 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 of cultures.
Alas Rhoda really does have impeccable comic timing in her writing along with a biting wit and I really did enjoy getting to know her through the book.
Have you read it? What did you think?
Wondering what the heck the Better World Book Club is? Check it out at http://www.betterworldbooks.com/bookclub. Join us. Next month we’re reading SOUTH OF BROAD by Pat Conroy. (Want 10% off and free shipping, use the code BOOKCLUB10 at checkout and save!)