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To Hell with All That: Loving and Loathing Our Inner Housewife
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To Hell with All That: Loving and Loathing Our Inner Housewife

3.23  ·  Rating details ·  630 ratings  ·  168 reviews
From Caitlin Flanagan, The New Yorker's most entertaining and acerbic wit--a controversial reassesment of the rituals and events that shape women's lives: weddings, sex, housekeeping, and motherhood. Caitlin Flanagan, the hilarious and hotly disputed social critic, compares the rituals and experiences that shaped the fifties housewife with those that have forged the modern ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published May 1st 2011 by Little Brown and Company (first published 2006)
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3.23  · 
Rating details
 ·  630 ratings  ·  168 reviews

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The writing is amusing and engaging, but this book is just irritating.

Flanagan tries to laud and defend the decision of women to stay home with their kids through her own example. She makes some decent "division of labor" arguments, but it's just impossible to take her seriously because this book is the story of how she made such a noble decision to stay home with her kids... and then hired a nanny to take care of them and a maid to do all the housework (not to mention hiring an organizer -- wh
Feb 03, 2012 rated it liked it
I enjoyed reading this book, it was amusing and actually made me thankful just to be me -- but the book itself really irritated me. Other than the first chapter about weddings... it's just not my thing, I guess. It was SO boring and ridiculous I didn't think I would make it to chapter two. Not EVERYONE today thinks their wedding has to top their friends or break the bank. Blah! Seriously, weddings should be simple and personal.

I have so much to say about this book -- obviously, so does the autho
Jun 08, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: women-s-studies
Flanagan has a sharp wit and can write some enjoyable prose. But she really comes across as a Stepford Bee-otch in this book, so it was hard for me to appreciate. On the one hand, she has all the fond rose tinted memories of childhood that I love as well. I recall a simpler time (don't we all?) when I spent long happy days in the company of my mom doing things around the house and around the small town where we lived. I remember when things felt organized...when weekends were generally weekends ...more
Lynn Weber
Sep 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
Caitlin Flangan is possibly the most controversial author writing today: someone who writes for high-level culture magazines like the New Yorker and the Atlantic and yet is truly hated by many intellectuals. Her infamous Atlantic essay on nannies pissed off the entire world---including me, though I didn't take note of her name at the time. Later I read her column on Twilight and was startled to realize that the writer of this wonderful piece was also the writer of that awful nanny piece.

Apr 10, 2009 rated it it was ok
I am so NOT enjoying this book, but since I'm 3/4 finished, I'm sure I will skim to the end of it. She's a good writer, but I just really can't relate to what she's talking about. Her stories are those of the problems with nannies, overscheduled kids, keeping up with the Joneses-Mommy Edition, etc. She is describing just the kind of life that I'm so trying to avoid. The book is quickly becoming annoying...

Ok, I finished it o
Dec 04, 2010 rated it it was ok
Okay, so she quit work to stay at home with the kids. Except she hired a maid and a nanny to do all the work. And she has the nerve to rail against Betty Friedan and the 1950s feminists for being unhappy in their housewife lives. What the heck does this author DO all day?

She did have some interesting sociological and historical insights, but most of the book was spent talking about how incompetent she is around the house, so much so that she's never sewn a button and doesn't make meals from scr
Feb 02, 2009 rated it it was ok
The book started out strong with some really interesting research. I agreed with so many of her points, but really felt like she kept missing the mark. I didn't appreciate her attack on Steven Covey and think that she simply doesn't really understand his philosophy. She has a witty writing style and MOST, not all, of the book was enjoyable. I skipped some. I ended up disagreeing with some of her conclusions. She seems to think that the only benefit of a mother staying home with her children is t ...more
Thomas Litchford
Dec 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
Caitlin Flanagan writes about motherhood without the sentimentality. In this book she covers every aspect of modern womanhood from overblown wedding ceremonies to the difficult decision to work outside the home. She writes about her twins' nanny, and she writes about Martha Stewart. She sees through the BS.

And she's funny. She willingly self-deprecates in the name of writing the truth.

It's true that this book is really an essay collection cum memoir, but it's nonetheless super enjoyable. If we'r
Nov 26, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Martha Stewart
Recommended to Julie by: picked it up at lower price for remaindered hardcover
Caitlin Flanagan is undoubtedly an amusing writer--but she holds herself out as an annoying "i'm better than all of you" example of I don't even know what--anti-feminism? neo-feminism? martha-stewart-is-my-idolism? i haven't quite figured it out. But I do like to read her articles and so I have grudgingly given her three stars, rather than that the 2 for "it was ok." it was better than that--but nothing more than another entry in the i-can-bring-home-the-bacon-fry-it-up-in-the-pan-and-after-that ...more
Aug 19, 2009 rated it it was ok
From the first few pages of this one, I figured I would have issues with this one. And I did. But in the spirit of listening to opposing viewpoints I did finish it and found myself liking Flanagan a teensy bit more than I did in the beginning.

First off, I take issue with someone who has taken one path (i.e. working mom or stay at home mom) and seems unable to see the other side. Flanagan did even worse on this front, flip flopping from a diehard SAHM'er to a proud working woman once she starts
Aug 11, 2015 rated it it was ok
I read this years ago and liked it. As it was still sitting on my shelf, I thought I'd see if I still found it amusing, now married, in a home, contemplating a family etc.

Welp, no. Obviously it's not a surprise that a book with this subtitle is heavily invested in gender essentialism...but it's just done so inanely! Women love pretty things! Men can't possibly be expected to match socks!

She gives the sad masses of American mothers cultural lessons, yearning for the aristocracy and the great WAS
Mike Lindgren
Dec 26, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Well, ah, I had read and enjoyed some of Flanagan's writing in the New Yorker and the Atlantic, so somewhere along the line I must have seen that she had written and book, and added it to the "gift list" that I share on Google Docs with my parents. So that's why my Dad said, very skeptically, "is this really the book you wanted?" when I opened it.

Well it is the book I wanted, I suppose, and to hell with what anyone thinks. It was funny and thought-provoking, albeit "counter-revolutionary" as I
Oct 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
Almost everyone will find a hook (or several) in this volume of essays on modern family life. Flanagan explores mothers, wives, work, sex, weddings, infertility, housekeeping, chaos, control, nannies, tax code as a moral issue, babies, children, death, and life. She does not proclaim to know much and that makes this volume more meaningful; Flanagan simply invites readers to explore with her and see where she lands. (I found myself on a happy discovery of memories as her childhood was my childhoo ...more
Heather Taggart
Jan 17, 2013 rated it it was ok
This was a breezy read, for sure, but overall I am not impressed. I feel like I was anticipating some big conclusion that never came because Flanagan just drifted amongst topics on a whim. I appreciated her attempt to address the struggles of both housewives and working mothers, but I think it was ultimately a failed attempt.

I think this book tried to be too many things at once. If it had been purely memoir, or purely academic, that would have worked much better than the hodgepodge of writing t
Christy S
Jan 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a witty, wise account of what it means to be a mother, a wife, a woman in 2006. The audio is read so well you would think it is the author reading, though it isn’t. One chapter is an exceptional description of the bizarre, intimate, and confusing relationship between a woman and her nanny. I also loved Flannigan’s use of books and mindsets through the decades to create the culture of the American housewife today: something built of should be’s, feminism, instinct, and consumerism. Very c ...more
Feb 16, 2009 rated it did not like it
This book was ridiculous. This woman uses vocabulary that is just a bit over the top for the topic of hand. By the end of the book I have no idea where she stands with being a housewife. Not sure whether she likes it or not. She is rich and had a she has no idea.......
Hated was ridiculously stupid.
Oct 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I have read a number of Caitlin Flanagan's essays on modern family life in The New Yorker, and this collection is compelling and sometimes very moving. She writes about weddings, infertility, twins, nannies, work, marriage, sex, and breast cancer: all the good stuff. The book spoke to my ambivalence about many women's roles and my absolute clarity about my own family.
Jan 10, 2013 rated it did not like it
The author spent most of the book saying how gender roles suck, particularly those of females. Then basically finished by saying that she really likes being a mom and wife and wouldn't trade it for anything. Sooooo, to hell with all what exactly?
Jul 16, 2007 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
Boohoo, it's so difficult being a housewife with a nanny!
Margaret Heller
Jan 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
I know this book is deeply unfashionable now, but I love this genre, and there is a lot that’s good here. I am pretty solidly a working mom, but I appreciate the paean to child raising and its joys. Also the poking fun of the yuppie habits in which she also engages is a lot of fun.
AJ Conroy
Aug 07, 2018 rated it did not like it
Katie Kenig
Aug 25, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
I have mixed feelings about this book. I'm like the author in some ways; I work from home as a writer. I am the main "keeper" of our house. Unlike her, I don't have a cleaning woman and I wouldn't have a nanny/won't have one when we are blessed again with a child in our lives. There is something that kept me from connecting with her, though, and I got the feeling she was one of those hypocritical women I feel like you always have to watch out of the corner of your eye for the knife about to be t ...more
Jul 23, 2009 rated it liked it
Most of the book was the authors summaries of various parenting, housekeeping, or feminist articles (or books). She would occasionally interject her opinion (which seemed to change a lot) or her take on the subject in a couple of sentences. Without sourcing others, this book would have been maybe 20 pages long. And maybe I didn't catch her tone right because I couldn't tell if she was being sarcastic sometimes or seriously felt that way (about the article or subject).

Also, her life is not like m
Jan 22, 2014 rated it liked it
It is a very honest book, which I think is a terrific thing. Caitlin freely admits that her circumstances (marrying well enough that she really doesn't worry about money) mean that she doesn't face the same pressures that some other people do. She's honest about things like how she has a nanny and still stays home the whole time. I didn't begrudge her any of that, especially since she had twins. Probably everyone who has twins should have a nanny, maybe two.
Where the book is bad is her writing
Jan 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
Caitlin Flanagan writes essays on modern family life for the New Yorker, which explains why this book is long on charm and short on tirades. Despite the inflammatory title, Mrs. (dare I call her?) Flanagan takes a friendly look at all things domestic as experienced by today's at-home mother.

Just take a look at these chapters:

The Virgin Bride tries to explain how it is that today's not-likely-virgin bride gloms onto the most elaborate wedding rituals.

The Wifely Duty notes the lack of romance, and
Oct 20, 2013 rated it it was ok
Well, then. I've liked Caitlin Flanagan's stuff about women and family in the Atlantic, and much of that material is repeated here. She's an engaging writer, and scary-easy to read. There's a lot to like here, and plenty of fun bits ("I remember hearing my mother's half of a long, complicated telephone conversation about whether it would or would not undermine the housewives' beef strike of 1973 if the caller defrosted and cooked meat bought prior to the strike"). But taken as a whole, the essay ...more
Jan 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays
Humorous series of essays regarding various aspects of being a wife and mother in the modern world. Some made rather annoying assumptions ("if [an at-home mother:] is in any way solvent...she has, at the very least, a once-a-month cleaning woman to do the most onerous tasks" - um...or not...) and occasionally came across as a bit more yuppie than the women I think she was trying to relate to (no, not everyone has a nanny until the children are in kindergarten). But at the same time, Ms. Flanagan ...more
Alison Kenney
Jan 20, 2012 rated it liked it
This book, like a lot of personal non-fiction writing, is flawed and a little inconsistent (it veers from essays on modern culture to personal memoir to an afterward about her ordeal with breast cancer). Flanagan has taken flack for advocating staying home with children while she herself hires a nanny, housekeeper and professional organizer. She also is writing about a certain segment of the population - it's one I identify with, but it's unfair to say that she captures the essence of all modern ...more
Feb 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
I really liked this book! My favorite chapters (on America's love of huge weddings and virgin brides) were the first two I read and I was hooked.

Basically, the author is pointing out the truth: we've gained so much as women in the last generation or two, but we've also lost a little bit too. There is a trade off for everything.

I think what I REALLY liked about this book is that Ms. Flanngan doesn't claim to be a homemaker at all. She claims to have been a stay at home mom, not the same thing in
Apr 01, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook, nonfiction
This book was very good. I enjoyed following her along on her self discovery as a stay at home mom evolving into a somewhat working mom. I especially liked all the numerous references to books and movies on housewives and mothers in their numerous roles. It left me constantly reaching for a pen and paper to write down the name of the book or author.

The lady who read the book for the audio book was fairly good as well. My only grudge against her was her way of reading quotes from other people th
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Caitlin Flanagan is a four-time finalist for the National Magazine Award. Her essays have appeared in Best American Essays 2003, and Best American Magazine Writing 2002, 2003, and 2004. She has made numerous national media appearances. She has been the subject of profiles and critiques in the New York Observer, Ms., The New Republic and various other publications. She lives in Los Angeles with her ...more