Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Book Review: Mennonite in a Little Black Dress
When I wrote up my goals for the year, I said I’d like to do more short reviews. This is one of those.
I picked up Rhoda Janzen’s Mennonite in a Little Black Dress in an airport bookshop where the pickings were pretty thin (unless you happened to be a Danielle Steele or Stephen King fan, which I’m definitely not). The premise was certainly interesting: a worldly college professor, recently dumped by her newly out-of-the-closet husband, goes back to her Mennonite family to convalesce after surgery.
I generally like memoirs, and Janzen’s is both raw and real. It was good – it just wasn’t great. Maybe that’s because the cover design and copy made me think this would be hilarious, and it really wasn’t. There were some funny parts, but the overriding emotion of the memoir was bitterness, not mirth. Maybe she wrote it too soon after her divorce. I could really feel the sting of it, but I found it oddly deflating.
Still, the book demystifies Mennonites, appreciated because I live in an area with a significant Mennonite population, and didn’t really know very much about their traditions and history. I would recommend it to anyone interested in knowing more about the group. It would probably also be appropriate for someone going through a divorce, as it does have a positive message about resilience, and learning to appreciate what you have. Not at all a bad book, it just didn’t fit my life or mood at the moment – thank goodness.