Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A History of a Pedophile's Wife: Memoir of a Canadian Teacher and Writer” as Want to Read:
A History of a Pedophile's Wife: Memoir of a Canadian Teacher and Writer
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

A History of a Pedophile's Wife: Memoir of a Canadian Teacher and Writer

4.59  ·  Rating details ·  41 ratings  ·  25 reviews
"How could a mother not know?" This is a question often asked about families where incest has occurred, and Eleanor Cowan's gripping memoir, A History of a Pedophile's Wife, steps up with answers that are courageous and heartbreaking. Cowan grew up in Quebec in the 1950s, in a large Roman Catholic family with a lethal mix of violence, addiction, and toxic pedagogy. Cowan d ...more
Kindle Edition, 242 pages
Published December 12th 2013 by BookBaby
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about A History of a Pedophile's Wife, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Eleanor Cowan Hi Judy! What is your city of location? Most city libraries have copies of my memoir, but if yours does not, you are entitled to request they get one…moreHi Judy! What is your city of location? Most city libraries have copies of my memoir, but if yours does not, you are entitled to request they get one for you! Also, you can purchase a copy of any book site. Does that help?
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
4.59  · 
Rating details
 ·  41 ratings  ·  25 reviews

Sort order
Avi Morris
Jan 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book should be required reading for anyone who has either experienced child abuse, is close to a known abuser or pedophile and/or is living in a dysfunctional situation and doesn't know what to do about it. Eleanor Cowan lays her life out for all to see. It couldn't have been easy for her, yet she managed to tell her story so eloquently that at times I forgot I was reading a memoir and thought that I was reading a novel. I wound up wanting to know more about her.

Growing up in a family where
Linda Penner
Aug 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Disturbing, heartbreaking, riveting!

First this memoir took me down the twisted path of a little girl growing up in a loveless, neglectful childhood reminiscent of Jeannette Walls’ The Glass Castle. Next Cowan courageously recounted her ill-equipped entrance to adulthood laced with predators, who hone in on such victims of misguided values, with their sociopathic radar. And then straight into the arms of marriage to a manipulative, controlling, ego-maniac pedophile! Never once does this loving mo
Laura-jeanne Lehr
Oct 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing

This is a compelling story. The journey is difficult to read at times but also inspiring. Cowan is a brave author, exposing the truth and sharing her experience for the benefit of others. This is an important read for all women because it provides reminders: stand up for ourselves and our children, to listen to our intuition above all else and stop being people pleasers. It is an important read on a difficult topic and I encourage others to read it.
Inge Bremer-Trueman
Nov 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
As I settled into Eleanor's book, I imagined myself perched on the sofa, Eleanor beside me, a fresh cup of tea on the coffee table in front of us. We are leafing through the photo album of her life.

Raised in an ever growing brood of souls for God, with more family issues than all the saints could possibly fix in one lifetime, Eleanor takes me through the ups and downs of her dysfunctional upbringing. Never once thinking to blame Catholicism itself, everything is taken in stride and solved (or n
Apr 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written! This memoir leaves you feeling inspired to live freely and bravely no matter the cards you are dealt or the mistakes you have made. We all reserve the right to be better than we were yesterday and Eleanor is living proof of that fact.

From the very first page, Eleanor, or Norda's, poetic prose invites you into her personal truth - past and present - and chronicles her journey rising above the rigor and rule of 1950's familial, religious, societal and misoginistic conditioning
Randi Ryder
Sep 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Elenor writes a brutally honest and scintillating story of her grooming from child to adult in a fanatical relgious, alcholic abusive family.

This is a book everyone who has never or has been sexually and horribly abused should read. It is a definite story of survival, religious dogma and the age of "tell no one what goes on in here." Even those in authority kept these things hidden and did nothing. Even when she was unsuspectingly engaged to a a pedophile, they never told her.

She was brave not j
Maggie Semple
Apr 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Cowan's descriptive narrative made me a bit sick to my stomach while I read it, but that’s a good thing. There is no way to sugar-coat the insidious nature of abuse, and this is a memoir that needs to be told. Sadly this type of abuse continues, and Eleanor shows great courage in writing about such intimate details of her life. I believe Eleanor's story will resonate with so many people throughout multiple generations, and I hope that the telling of her story will stop the cycle of abuse in even ...more
Feb 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
A difficult story well told. Kudos to the author for being brave enough to step out and make her story public, thereby revealing dysfunctional, abusive organizations in our own back yard.
Aug 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
I read it cover to cover in an afternoon. As horrifying and powerful in its way as Ellie Danica's 'Don't - a Woman's Word' was from a child survivor's perspective.

This memoir is unvarnished but not sensationalized. Less about the sexual assaults and more about the lifelong conditioning that trains children to accept abuse and act in ways that perpetuate it on themselves and on others. It's an unflinching look back at a life of being groomed towards passivity, obedience, and self-sacrifice to pr
Nov 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
On first blush, this memoir could be experienced simply - and very powerfully - as a child's coming of age story beneath her parents' often brutal attitudes and behaviours, openly fostered by the abusive patriarchal prerogatives of her devout family's obeisance to the Catholic Church and its teachings. With the patience of a gifted novelist, Cowan is able to recount the details of how that church's teachings seeped into a distorted and painful expression, recounted in the way her father and moth ...more
Leslie Gavel
Jan 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Professor and author Richard Dawkins has claimed that forcing religion on children without questioning its merits is as bad as child abuse. He said this long after it would have been of any use to Eleanor Cowan, the brave protagonist of A History of a Pedophile’s Wife, yet these words could have been written for her.

Like many women before and many after, the author along with her mother were both victims of the Catholic Church and its doctrines. Eleanor’s mother had child after child regardless
Hazel Lawley
Nov 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The author gives an honest portrayal of a personal story, and the effects of childhood abuse that so many readers can relate to. Most importantly, this is a message of hope that we can transcend the pain and the damaging scripts created in childhood. It is a journey of forgiveness and compassion for the Self. One that honours the injured child's right to be seen, heard, loved and accepted, but equally important, a non-linear journey where we repeat the mistakes and learning until we can consciou ...more
Wendy Kraft
Oct 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
This intensely personal, brave and well-written book should be a 'must read' for young women. It enforces the importance of trusting your instincts and speaking up in relationships. Too often both modern and traditionally raised women sublimate their logic and emotion to create a family and then to protect their family unit when in fact their own lives and those of their children in time, can be irreparably damaged by ongoing physical or emotional abuse. Ms. Cowan has explored her own upbringing ...more
Pamela Merritt
Sep 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was such a compelling story, told so well, that I could not put the book down until I had finished it.

The author is honest about her own missteps. She is very perceptive about the cultural pressures that had trapped herself, and her mother, in situations which encouraged their victimization. Even the least sympathetic person in the narrative comes in for some humanitarian explanations and concerns.

I learned a lot about how this happens and why it happens and what needs to be done.
Apr 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Eleanor Cowan's story is grippingly honest as it explores the impact of organized religion on the conspiracy of silence that often shrouds abuse and dysfunction. A History of Pedophile's Wife is a must-read for anyone who has experienced the systemic and endemic tyranny of the patriarchy--that would be all of us! Thank you, Eleanor, for your vulnerability and sharing. We are richly fortunate for your risk-taking transparency that shatters the silence. Thank you, Kelly L. Howarth, M.Ed., PPCC, Ce ...more
Sep 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A grueling memoir about a woman's childhood fraught with parental neglect, possible sexual abuse and rigid Roman Catholic religion in the 1950s. Cowan shows how this led her to making repeated bad choices, including marriage to a pedophile. But in the end, she shows, that if you come to recognize the problem and deal with it honestly, there is hope and the chance of a good life.
Anne Metikosh
Oct 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
A heartfelt, eye-opening account of a very personal struggle. It takes a lot of courage to share a story like this with the world. To be able to say, in spite of everything, "I believe in good people" is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit. I admire your courage, Eleanor. Bravo.
Apr 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Cowan's story is not an easy one to read. Though it is about her marriage to a pedophile, it is also about how this could have happened to an intelligent young woman. Her upbringing in a violent home wracked by the demands of the Catholic religion, alcoholism and disregard for ordinary childrens' needs is heartbreaking - but that is the seed of so many lives broken by their history. Drug abuse, addiction and mental illness don't just appear out of nowhere - they are passed on through the generat ...more
Annie M.
Feb 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It is not often that I stay up after midnight to finish a book, but “A History of a Pedophile’s Wife” is a book that I could not put down.
The author, Eleanor Cowan, is a very courageous woman. It is a “coming out” story of a woman who was raised in a family that had a long history of sexual abuse and addiction. No one would choose to be born into such a legacy, yet by telling her story she sheds light on the darkness. This book is saying that it is possible to stop the cycle of abuse and addict
Joan Crate
Oct 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I discovered this book at a Literary Festival where it was selling out, and no wonder; it’s a fascinating, painful, well-written, and deeply insightful memoir. Cowan doesn’t flinch from exposing sexual abuse and dysfunctional family life as she chronicles growing up female in the 50’s and 60’s, then marriage and motherhood in the 70’s and 80’s. While this captivating personal story reveals Canadian society of the time, readers will recognize the same covert patterns of family violence, sexual ab ...more
Travis Vining
Sep 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is wonderfully written, brutally honest, and a must read for those that have been, or know someone that has been victimized by abusive people and religious institutions. Eleanor’s story brings to light signs to look for in abusers, behaviors that cause most to ‘look the other way’, and most importantly, the freedom that comes from our own personal choices.

Reading this book, it became clear why we do not hear more about how molesters and abusers use religion as cover for their sickness.
Kimberly Ihekwoaba
Aug 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Each page captured my heart!

I had the chance to meet the author, Eleanor Cowen. She is so full of life and gratitude. Looking at the contrast of her in person and the world she shares in her book, I am baffled. I can't imagine going through it all. She is definitely a phenomenal woman!

It takes courage to share such stories in her memoir. And it is sadly still a topic today and encourages people experiencing trauma to seek support. It is a story that shapes life into different perspectives and na
Sep 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a very, very sad but well-written memoir. I started and finished in a day.

This is NOT so much about the actual fact that the author's husband was a pedophile, though that is significant. Instead, it is more a memoir of an abusive and dysfunctional childhood. This book serves as a critique of the Catholic Church as much as it does an example of the resiliency of the human spirit, much more than I was aware there would be.

A worthwhile read in the end. I do recommend, especially for anyone
Jul 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book took courage to read. Eleanor's superb story telling cracks open the secretive vault of the Catholic family, and gives us all an honest peek inside. Page after page, I recognized the bravery of going against generations of conditioning to brake patterns secretly playing out within too many families today, regardless of faith. The similarities within my own experiences growing up have left this memoir coming back to me in quite moments. A must read for anyone wanting to wake up.
Sep 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Well written and honest. More books are needed like this to break the silence and to be able to identify sexual predators. Recommended.
rated it liked it
Dec 28, 2015
Eva Della Lana
rated it liked it
Dec 19, 2015
David Winter
rated it it was amazing
Nov 17, 2017
rated it it was amazing
Nov 17, 2018
Bruce Bohnet
rated it it was amazing
Aug 19, 2017
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »