Mennonite in a little black dress A memoir of going home

Rhoda Janzen

Book - 2009

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.

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New York : Henry Holt and Co 2009.
1st ed
Physical Description
241 p. ; 22 cm
Main Author
Rhoda Janzen (-)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Janzen was raised in a strict Mennonite society, and while she upheld the values as a child and maintained her faith even as an adult, she couldn't help but rebel. However, after marrying an emotionally abusive atheist who leaves her for a man he met on, and then barely surviving a terrible car accident, Janzen finds herself back home reliving her Mennonite childhood as an adult. In her compelling memoir, Janzen explores her past and her present with honesty and self-deprecation, and the result is both hilarious and touching. She delves into her relationships with her mother, sister, and ex-husband without holding back, and she explores some of the Mennonite traditions that helped shape her life. No prior knowledge of Mennonite culture is necessary for enjoying and learning from this lively chronicle of the patience and strong sense of humor one needs to go home again. Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Her husband has left her for Bob, whom he met on, and she's just been in a bad auto crack-up, so poet/professor Janzen heads home-to her Mennonite parents. Not mournful but funny; try it. Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

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.) [Page 45]. Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

A poet describes how, after her husband left her for a relationship with a man and she subsequently was seriously injured in a car crash, she returned home to her close-knit Mennonite family and came to terms with her failed marriage and her choices in life.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

"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, LoveNot 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, 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.