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The Bitch in the House: 26 Women Tell the Truth About Sex, Solitude, Work, Motherhood, and Marriage

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3.51 of 5 stars 3.51  ·  rating details  ·  2,169 ratings  ·  328 reviews
WITH A NEW AFTERWORD BY EDITOR CATHI HANAUER

26 Women Tell It Like It Is


The culmination of lessons learned in the past three decades--the "me" years, the terapy years, and the "express yourself" years--The Bitch in the House welcomes readers into the lives, minds, and bedrooms of its contributors to talk about the choices they've made, what's working, and what's not.

Ranging...more
Paperback, 292 pages
Published September 16th 2003 by Perennial (first published 2002)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Lesley Guilmart
Honestly, I found it hard to sympathize with the women who contributed essays to this book. Could I identify with them? Kind of... I am a college-educated, middle-class white woman who will no doubt struggle with issues of motherhood and career. I just wish the editors had reached out to women who weren't writers and/or who weren't all middle to upper class. I felt like I was reading the same stories over and over...which I understand is kind of the point: we professional women all have similar...more
Meghan
Seriously!?! There are people out there that liked this book. I just wanted to scream at these women to get over themselves and do something about their lives. If you are that unhappy, do something about it!!! I couldn't relate at all. Sure maybe when I was 19 and stupid I experienced some of the bad boyfriend situations or felt lost, but I got over that.

Unless you want to be force-fed a bunch of poorly written stories about self-deprecating women, go ahead and read this. I'll go kiss my husban...more
Karyl
I just couldn't do it anymore. I got halfway through this book and had to quit -- and I never quit books. I felt like most of these women are rather narcissistic and self-absorbed, and because they had to deal with someone else taking up space in their lives, they felt resentful. My marriage is by no means perfect (we just celebrated nine years this past week, though I'm surprised we've made it this long), but I realize that the only person that can make me happy is me. I married my husband, I c...more
Nancy D.
When you read a book of compiled essays, it's natural to connect with some more than others. The Bitch in the House is no exception, but worthy of a read and discussion? Absolutely.

Being only a female of my early twenties, I have yet to experience much of this book's content, such as marriage and childbirth. I will say, however, as a feminist of a younger generation, this book really did touch upon rapidly growing concerns of mine, such as gender and domestic roles. A few of the essays (most not...more
Sara
My generation of women is the first to be stuck on the middle of "traditional" feminine roles and the new roles advocated by the feminist movement. Identifying as a feminist myself, and finding myself less than fulfilled in several "traditional" aspects of my marriage and life as a stepmother, I found myself relating to so much of the essays in this book.

Basically, our mom's were the last generation that were able to be at home and raise us. We learned, through observing them, that our fathers...more
Molly
Ugh. Unlike. I'll try to sum up why:

1) Every collection of stories from moms on the issue of working / not working is over-powered by the opinions of women who WRITE for a living. A job they don't have to do from an office. Where are the teachers? the attorneys? the saleswomen? the corporate workers? I get it, those moms don't write thoughtful essays on the "should I work or stay home" issue, writers write those. But I am so annoyed that publishers think this is a representative sample of workin...more
Stephanie
This book provokes a range of responses from readers. Some reviewers call it the "whining of women who have it all," which makes me wonder whether they actually read the book. If having it all means that one has a career, friends, family, and (if one chooses) a partner, then I guess many of us "have it all." I was not aware that if one "has it all" one must not reflect on life and love. The mood of this book was honest, contemplative, and funny. Although the writers do not hold back from express...more
Tiffany
Jan 11, 2008 Tiffany rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: adults
Shelves: womens-issues
I read this book last year, and it has stayed with me all this time. Each essay a different woman's perspective on the types things woman are expected to do. I can so relate to many of the voices - why, for example, am I the only one in the relationship with an internal clock that tells me it's time to change the sheets or mop the floor? Reading this made me think about my struggles with being a wife on mother on a societal level. Fascinating read.
Stasia
I wish I could give this book 2.5 stars, right in the middle. There were certainly some though-provoking essays in it, essays that I might give to other people to read if I'd come across them on their own. However, the book in its entirety is a little hard to handle.

First of all, even though it's 26 different women, they all start to blur together. Mostly because the majority of them seem to be writers/editors/teachers who live in New York, do lots of yoga, have a fair amount of money, and, odd...more
Roxanne
Mar 17, 2010 Roxanne rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: all the smart women in my life
Why is it that, when we come home at the end of a long day at work and our partner offers to cook dinner, we refuse and then stomp around the kitchen resentfully whipping up a fancy meal? Why do we get angrier and angrier as we wait for our partner to notice the pile of unwashed dishes instead of just asking him to help out? Where does this "irrational" behavior come from, and how do we deal with the problem of having it all--career, marriage, children--when having it all becomes too much?

A lot...more
Margali
I realize that my life (adjusted easily into marriage, had two even-tempered children, was happy to be a SAHM, etc.) wouldn't fit very well into this particular book of essays, but I couldn't help looking askance at some of the women represented in there. There were some interesting insights, but some of these women just seemed to make life harder for themselves than they needed to. Again, it may be that this book was by and for different people than the person that I am. Almost all of them were...more
Emily
The unfortunate downside of the feminist movement is that there isn't enough time in a day to "have it all," which really, really frustrates and in some cases enrages the essayists in this book. However, the overarching theme seems to be a positive one. Sometimes, through the process of writing about it, these women seem to have come to terms with the prioritizing and compromise involved with being a wife, mother, and an employee (or choosing not to do any of those things). It's also comforting...more
Mo
Nov 03, 2008 Mo rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: all women
I am not even half-way finished with this book but, so far, it is wonderful! It provides accounts from the lives of a diverse group of women - the single, the married, the divorced, the "willingly other woman" type, the maternal, the childless, the heterosexual, the bisexual, the young, the wise. Very insightful. I was able to identify with a few of the women, whether their feelings are those that I am feeling now or those that I felt in the past.
Sarah
For anyone who enjoys fabulous female authors, short essays, and the truth about what it is like to be a woman...
Angie
Absolutely wonderful! Must read for tired, overworked moms and wives! Hilarious, easy, true, real life
Liz
I have mixed feelings about this book. I think it explores quite well the often-repressed feelings of anger that many women have. However, I wish that there had been a bit more diversity in the voices presented. Although I don't know this for a fact, it certainly seems like the authors of the essays are all upper/middle-class, heterosexual, and white (I'm assuming the last race, but I don't think it's much of a stretch, given the complete lack of discussion of race or orientation). I was also qu...more
Michelle Cristiani
Several of these pieces were outstanding, but for the most part it was like sitting at the bar getting to know 26 new girlfriends. I would personally rather just make friends and hear them tell their stories, than to read about them in this more formal way. It's just not for me. But I appreciate the raw honesty the women displayed, especially Elissa Schappell's piece on parental anger. And Ellen Gilchrist's piece was strangely revelatory.
Marsha
Cathi Hanauer found herself angry all the time: about her job, her children, her husband. She had a great life, on paper, so she wondered where all this anger was coming from and how to deal with it. She wondered if other women felt this way. This book is the result.

Filled with essays from over 20 different women from different walks of life and the choices they made, “The Bitch in the House” is as absorbing, amusing and sobering as the subjects it addresses. The voices of the different women ri...more
Alina
Some essays are better than others, but all are revealing, touching, and resonating, this is a great book to come for any woman in her life. The essays don't offer solutions, but they offer peace in understanding where her emotions, passions, frustrations might be coming from.

If you read only a few, choose:
If you have a boyfriend or husband... "Excuse Me While I Explode" by ES Maduro
If your work personality is totally different from your home personality.. "Attila the Honey I'm Home" by Kristi...more
Lisa
This is an engrossing collection of 26 accomplished women's meditations on the conundrum that is life as a professional woman/mother/wife in contemporary America. I loved that each story was its own window into an entirely personal and unique struggle that at the same time is inherently universal. Though several of the authors fall into the same work/family category, the fact that each offered a fresh take on the central issues of equality and personal fulfillment speaks to the plurality of wome...more
Vicky
My biggest problem with this collection was that it seemed to me that I was reading the same story over and over again. I'd say about 90% of the contributors are upper-middle class, middle aged white women who are writers, live in New York City and do yoga. It also seemed to me that none of them really offered any advice or in some cases, a coherent story line. I got the feeling that a lot of them contributed just to get something off of their chests, no necessarily to offer help to any other wo...more
Amber
The good: More women need to read more things like this. It's good to find that there are essays exploring the issues that keep us up at night, and it's good to know we're not the (only) crazy ones.

The bad: More women need to seek out actual therapy and counseling, or take other empowering steps, to change their lives for the better. Reading an essay about how life is hard doesn't make life any easier! Stop bitching and start treating yourself like to deserve to live well.

The ugly: I got this o...more
Jessica
Personally, I really liked the essays in this book. Yes, some of them were not to my taste, but for the most part, I felt like I identified with some part of all of them. Then again, I'm in that space right now, trying to figure out what it means to me to be a wife, and what it will mean to me to be a mother. It's probably not something most men would find interesting, it's definitely gender specific. It helped me feel less... alone... reading other women working through some of the same issues...more
Jane
The title is based on the Virginia Woolf essay about "the angel in the house" a tongue in cheek reference to the perfect woman who pretty much makes other people's lives go smoothly. The essays contain essays about being a woman, relationships, sex, having children...that are far more honest than most I've read. I'm really enjoying this. Hanauer's husband, also a writer, followed up with a companion book The Bastard on the Couch. The only problem is the titles...I brought this book to the pool.....more
Carrie Wright
Love! I'm surprised that some of the reviewers found it hard to sympathize with these women. These essays echo the voices of most of my professional friends. How can I balance my career and family goals? Where does drive become selfishness? Why, in this era of shared parenting, does it still seem that I'm the only family member who can locate the batteries? And why the hell am I the only one struggling with guilt each time I have a late work meeting or out of town trip? Great, thought-provoking...more
Chris
I wasn't sure how I'd feel about this book since the reviews are all over the place. I went in with an open mind, and I'm so glad I did. I loved the stories, and I actually want more. Each of the women shared their story - whatever story that happened to be. They opened themselves up for judgment and share very uncomfortable truths from their lives.

Although I do agree with other reviewers that it would be better to have a more diverse set of authors for the essays, I was still able to identify...more
Ashley
Sister book to "The Bastard on the Couch" which I didn't like either. I was hoping that I would be better able to relate to the female version, but not so much.

A handful of the essays were ok and were thoughtful looks at the struggle to balance family, work, friends, etc. but for the most part, there was a lot of anger (mostly unjustified) and to be frank, whining. Many essays dripped with self importance which I found incredibly off putting and annoying. Not a fan.
Marie
Best to read this collection of essays when you're in a good place in your life - otherwise it might fuel the fire. ;)
Anastasia
Like other reviewers, I, too, take issue with the lack of ethnic and economic diversity in this collection of essays. I definitely think it would have been a much stronger body had the experiences of (more) working class and (more) non-white women been included. With that said, however, it was a great read. Some essays spoke to me more than others, but I think there's something here for most women of this demographic. I particularly enjoyed How We Became Strangers by Jill Bialosky, Houseguest He...more
Idea Smith
26 women address the inexplicable rage they feel, in their seemingly happy lives. Supermom complexes, the pressure to attach with a man, inherited guilt - all of these are covered in these women's stories. After the first 4-5, you start to see patterns. I skimmed through and completely skipped a few even. But overall, it was an interesting enough for someone who doesn't want to read male-bashing rants under the guise of feminism. In most of the stories, the women addressed their own role in bein...more
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“I had wanted to get married, but I realized now that I never wanted to be a 'wife.” 0 likes
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