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Diary of a Mad Housewife

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3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  755 ratings  ·  80 reviews
Made into a major motion picture that garnered an Oscar nomination for actress Carrie Snodgrass, Diary of a Mad Housewife is a classic of women’s fiction that gave a wry voice to the nascent feminist stirrings of the 1960s and helped incite a revolution in the consciousness of a generation.

When Bettina Balser begins to suspect that she is going mad, she starts a secret dia
...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published March 28th 2005 by Seal Press (first published December 31st 1966)
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Community Reviews

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Oriana
Oh this book is just terrific. The prose is so light and airy and flows so beautifully... which all belies the pretty serious things that go on.

Written in the late '60s, re-released a few years ago by Thunder's Mouth, this is the story of Bettina Balser, an upper-middle-class housewife who is freaking out about the stifling life she finds herself in the thick of. The characters (her husband, his "classy" friends, the housekeeper, their children and neighbors) are perfectly drawn, and the dialog
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Kim Fay
This is the kind of book that I have always envied for its style which I could never pull off. You either have this talent or you don't. And Sue Kaufman has it. My best description would be "controlled stream of consciousness." This story (published in 1967) of a housewife resisting the razor's edge of debilitating anxiety as she goes throughout her daily life is definitely not loosely written. But this isn't a tightly plotted book either, which makes it difficult to describe. I love the period ...more
Maggie
Take one part The Group, two parts Bell Jar, a half portion of voyeurism, a dash of bitters, and you have Diary of a Mad Housewife. Set in the late 60s/early 70s, the novel consists of the secretly scribbled thoughts of Tina, an artist who destroyed her paintings and sought marriage after a nervous breakdown. The tale stretches over roughly a six month period in the middle of her marriage to a successful and self-centered lawyer in the Upper West Side. While the story is a bit dated, there's sti ...more
Núria
“Diario de un ama de casa desquiciada” de Sue Kaufman está a medio camino entre “La campana de cristal” de Sylvia Plath y la serie “Mujeres Desesperadas”. Es una mezcla de drama sobre frustraciones femeninas y comedia satírica y crítica con las convenciones sociales. La protagonista es Tina Balser, una ama de casa del Manhattan de los años 60 que, como se suele decir, aparentemente lo tiene todo: un marido que es un abogado de éxito, dos hijas bonitas que son unas buenas alumnas en la escuela ca ...more
Mª João Monteiro
livro dos anos 60 do século XX e, por isso, um pouco datado. Na altura deve ter sido uma pedrada no charco: uma dona de casa de classe média alta transtorna-se com a sua vida vazia. Dinheiro de sobra, empregada, filhas em colégios e um sem fim de afazeres risíveis, mas necessários, como mandar encerar o chão e limpar as carpetes, responder aos convites para festas e coisas assim. Mais uma vez me espanto com o tipo de vida que permitia (e permite, penso eu) vidas tão «vazias» de sentido, mas cont ...more
Tejas Janet
I read this a very long time ago, but recently started flipping through the pages, and recognized the writing like I had read it just yesterday. I like Kaufman's understated style. She allows the characters to speak for themselves and lets the story unfold in an unforced progression of events. There's a lot of substance to this novel.
EllenR
I adore this book. Some interesting stylistic tics including ironic capitalizations that I didn't see again until bloggery. Written in the 60s, it's surprisingly undated. Pries the dirty tobacco tin lid off marriage and contempt in an amusing way.
Tammy
This book is hysterical. I have read it a half a dozen times and it just gets better as I get older.
Heather
THis book was interesting to me in three ways. I had heard of it as a "feminist" book from the sixties/seventies, and hadn't rea it for that reason- most things that are feminist manifestos are distasteful to me, as American style "Men suck" feminism is NOT to my liking, and the empowering French stylyle feminism is not prevalent here, especcailly in older books. However, I was fascinated by this book, and saw little feminism in it... it was, instead, to my mind, a detailed account of descent by ...more
Jan Priddy
DIARY OF A MAD HOUSEWIFE by Sue Kaufman (1967) is the novel on which the 1970 film is based. (My husband graduated high school in 1967; I did in 1970 when we saw and loved the film, which is terrific but not available on DVD.) Betinna Balser, called "teen" by her husband, a disappointed liberal-turned frantic capitalist, begins a secret diary as a means of hanging on to the shreds of her sanity in this domestic comedy. I regret it's taken me this long to discover the novel, which is, of course, ...more
KJ
There is much to be said about this book. Unfortunately all that I want to say about it will spoil the story for anyone interested. It kind of touched on a lot of different emotional responses to the characters. First, you want to yell at the main character for being a bit of a spoiled brat. She seems to have everything and even though her life isn't perfect, she doesn't even have to clean her own damn house! Sheesh! Then you go to being astounded at the husband. He was a lovable idiologest in t ...more
Kyle
Sep 06, 2007 Kyle rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Maggie
Proto-feminist classic. Bettina Balser, née Munvies, is a middle class mother on Central Park West. Her husband is a lawyer and a hopeless social climber. He forces her to accompany him on an endless round of cocktail parties, art gallery openings and theatre events, in hopes of breaking into the next level of society. She is very depressed and just barely holding it together with booze, nembutal, and an extra-marital affair.

It's a very accurate portrayal of depression, but sometimes I had a ha
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Almu
La protagonista está harta de no tener la vida que realmente desea y no poder disfrutar de lo que hace. Todo el mundo alguna vez en la vida dice: ¿Por qué estoy haciendo esto si no es lo que quiero? En el caso de esta ama de casa le lleva casi a la locura. O sin el casi...
La historia está contada con mucho sentido del humor pero no deja de ser un tema frustrante. Usa mucho el sarcasmo para burlarse y quitar importancia al estado de nervios de la protagonista. En resumen, salvo por el final que
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Cynthia
Smartly written novel set in domesticity, but with references to a culture and mindset that is partly historical, partly all-too-current. A clever portrayal of how far too many males see women as tools for their advancement and objects to be controlled. Especially scary since this reflected life almost half a century ago and the echoes in current society ring clear. Read this and then see the film with Carrie Snodgrass and Richard Benjamin. The only reason for 4 and not 5 stars is the ending--wo ...more
Theut
Un pugno nello stomaco, questo libro. Perché DEVI essere felice, DEVI sopportare in silenzio le sfuriate che gli altri fanno sul tuo operato, NON DEVI lamentarti di quello che ti succede perché sei una privilegiata. Gli altri che decidono (in modo più o meno scoperto) e tu che DEVI ubbidire.
Nel 1967 le cose funzionavano così e gli antidepressivi scorrevano a fiumi. Come si comporterebbe oggi Bettina?
(4* al libro, 0* all'edizione: piena di errori, refusi, traduzione a volte fatta con i piedi...
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Leah
Lifelong fave
Roberta
Arguto e cinico, Diaro di una casalinga disperata (niente a che vedere con la serie televisa, che precede di diversi decenni) è il Resoconto scritto da Tina (Bettina) Balser, una giovane casalinga newyorchese.
Dopo la prima trentina di pagine ero completamente assorbita nell'incredibile storia di Tina che, nonostante le ambizioni da artista, viene "plasmata" da anni di psicoanalisi volti a trasformarla nell'immagine ideale di donna sottomessa con forti istinti femminili (ovvero voglia di sposars
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Pipina
If you expected a comedy from the title, well, it's not. It's an intensely irritating book-length wailing designed for the reader to feel compassion for Tina Balser and for women's lot in life. The only thing I felt was an itching desire to slap the protagonist and most of the other characters too. I read this book shortly after "The Best of Everything" by Rona Jaffe; perhaps it was a surfeit of protofeminist fiction. But I feel reluctant to give it another chance.
Kelly Martín
Desternillante novela para comprender la nueva conciencia femenina en EEUU a finales del siglo XX. A modo de Diario la protagonista relata su desavencias con la vida familiar y su rol de mujer florero. Divertido y original, parece haber servido de modelo para Betty Drapper en la famosa serie de AMC, Mad Men.
Emily
This was one of those books that I had filed under socially and historically significant books to read. Given that, it was a well written story that provides a view into the life of a 1960s housewife in suburbia. It was frustrating to watch the protagonist slip into a very negative mental place, and have the husband only exacerbate the process. Just when you think things cannot get worse, they do.

I was left with the sense that to be a 1960s suburban housewife was emotionally and socially isolati
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Pamela Gottfried
This was a quick and fun read! A period piece set in NYC that evokes all that nostalgia for the city that was. Originally chose it for the Reading Challenge because it is a "book written the year I was born," but also fits category of "book that became a movie," so will wait to see where it fits.
Merja Pohjola
I feel like giving it 4,5 stars, damn goodreads that I cannot ;) This book was witty and funny, written (I gather) during at the dawn of the true feminist movement. Nevertheless, it was hilarious and tasted like life.
Machel
Utterly thought provoking, down right depressing and I thought I was picking up a Chick lit novel. However, on a positve note: Wonderful, well written, and Sue Kaufman took you inside the darker shades in her character analysis, and having you think twice about your life, too.
Just not the right time for me to read this book, m
***rereading this book Aug 2012
digging in again tonight.

I am not in the mood to read this. I have too much writing to do. And the fact that I know Sue Kaufman committed su
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Mona
This 1967 gem is one of my all-time favorite books -- which I'm currently re-reading. I originally swiped Diary from my "mudther's" collection of book club books as a tween or early teen. I've always enjoyed the The Balser Family Thanksgiving dinner scene...a true classic, but as an adult, I'm catching so many other nuances I missed the first time around. Have things changed? Not as much as you'd think. The New York City housewife from my mother's generation is a classic archetype, and I was ama ...more
Kuroko
Mi piaciuto il realismo terra-terra di alcune scene del quotidiano, ma la storia in s non esaltante. ...more
Angela
I would certainly go a little "mad" if I had the main character's husband as my own!
Bettie☯
Dec 28, 2014 Bettie☯ rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Wanda, Dagny, Cheryl, Laura etc
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Bonnie Limbird
I find it interesting (coincidental) that several books I've been reading lately about women in crisis or upheaval are around the age of 37. While the eras these stories are told in are different from my own, many issues still ring true. Which is not to say that I have much in common with Bettina, except for a general struggle to figure out a "role" and set a good example for our daughters.

The writing is descriptive and easy to read. The story clips along really well and is very engrossing. I'm
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Andrea Stoeckel
I read this so long ago
Shelley
I wanted to like this more than I did. I really enjoyed the final quarter of the book. I can assure you if my husband ever treated me in that way the Divorce word would be tossed out alot sooner. At the same time I had a hard time feeling sorry for her because she was treated no different in her affair- one seems to have run to the same thing she left!
I get the whole feminest movement pull of the 60's and the struggle that people (even in this generation) desire for social class.
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Kaufman was born in Long Island, New York. She received her degree from Vassar College in 1947. In 1953 she married a doctor named Jeremiah Abraham Barondess with whom she had a son. At Vasser she did some editorial work and went on to writing. Her works appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, The Paris Review, and The Saturday Evening Post. Her first novel came out in 1959. In 1967 she wrote Diary of a ...more
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