Diary of a Mad Housewife
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Diary of a Mad Housewife

3.69 of 5 stars 3.69  ·  rating details  ·  648 ratings  ·  73 reviews
When Manhattan housewife Bettina Balser begins to suspect that she is going mad, she starts a secret diary as a form of therapy and escape. Her fears pour onto the page: "Elevators, subways, bridges, tunnels, high places, low places, tightly enclosed spaces, boats, cars, planes, trains, crowds..." Through her observations, Bettina seeks meaning in her exceedingly dreary li...more
Paperback, 293 pages
Published 1979 by Bantam Books (first published December 31st 1966)
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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...more
“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
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
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
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 Lipkey
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
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...more
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...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.
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.
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
This book is hysterical. I have read it a half a dozen times and it just gets better as I get older.
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......more
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...more
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.
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...more
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...more
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
I would certainly go a little "mad" if I had the main character's husband as my own!
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...more
Andrea Stoeckel
I read this so long ago
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.
Although I usually have issues with books which are formatted as "diaries" and then go on to include extensive dialogue between characters (no one really diaries like that, do they?), the subject matter in this book kept me from dwelling on that irritant. More than anything, it made me relieved to live a simple life in a small town in a (somewhat) more enlightened age. Glad I picked this up at a garage sale last year.
Aug 22, 2007 Sangeeta rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
This is one of the best books I have ever read. Probably because people and characters and how they are written is a big part of my fascination with both books and films. The husband and wife pair are so starkly, shockingly real even though it was written quite a while ago... you can sense the fear, the revulsion, the frustration that is the woman's life. An excellent (even if disturbing) read and a brilliant movie!
I was prepared to love this book, since I thought it would be something I could really relate to. Since it was published in 1967, and I have been a mom since 1999, the material was dated for me. Also, I have never lived the NYC partying lifestyle this protagonist lived, so the book had historical interest but wasn't the smart chick lit I thought it would be. Maybe that's what it was during its time.
I have slight fears that this is what my life could turn into if I continue to stay at home & not be Dr. Shannon. Considering however that my husband reacted with sheer glee to seeing his SpongeBob SquarePants ice-cream-cake birthday cake today, I think the odds that he will become obsessed with our position in High Society are low. Good book, and really a very quick read - I quite enjoyed it.
"...me lo he pasado pipa con esta mujer, Bettina Balser, una señora que como se adelanta en aclarar el título, es dueña y ama de su casa y está un poco harta de todo. Es normal: estar casada con un "Mad Men" debe de condenarla a una a convertirse en una "Mad Housewife" sin muchas más opciones..."

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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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