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

3.52  ·  Rating details ·  2,809 Ratings  ·  402 Reviews
Virginia Woolf introduced us to the “Angel in the House”, now prepare to meet... The Bitch In the House.

Women today have more choices than at any time in history, yet many smart, ambitious, contemporary women are finding themselves angry, dissatisfied, stressed out. Why are they dissatisfied? And what do they really want? These questions form the premise of this passionate
Paperback, 292 pages
Published September 16th 2003 by Perennial (first published 2002)
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Lesley Guilmart
Aug 04, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
Jun 21, 2010 rated it did not like it
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
Jul 02, 2010 rated it did not like it
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
Oct 10, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Oct 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Nancy D.
Jan 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
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.
Mar 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 17, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Mar 03, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Aug 09, 2015 rated it liked it
A bit upper middle class problem-y.
Aug 17, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: audiobook
Right off the bat I realized my mistake. I picked the audiobook (because it was available right away) instead of the actual book. There are just some people who are not cut out to read out loud and this book had a lot of them. Some were so bad even my husband who only heard a couple of minutes of one essay said 'What are you listening to? That is the worst thing I've ever heard!' because it was. I wanted to scream.

It didn't help that I couldn't relate to these women. These working women. These
Mar 08, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: essays, non-fiction
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
Jul 20, 2009 rated it did not like it
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
Dec 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
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
Jul 16, 2007 rated it really liked it
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.
Jul 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
For anyone who enjoys fabulous female authors, short essays, and the truth about what it is like to be a woman...
Aug 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely wonderful! Must read for tired, overworked moms and wives! Hilarious, easy, true, real life
Jan 06, 2016 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Wives (or ex-wives) & mothers
I have to admit, I struggled with this book. I think I expected it to be funnier, or that I'd identify more with the women who contributed to it. However, I found that all of the women (whether single or married, mothers or not, monogamous or polygamous, happy or otherwise) shared a characteristic I did not: loneliness. While not all of them dressed their Barbies as brides and imagined their own fairy-princess wedding from childhood, ALL of them entered into relationships because even when "happ ...more
Mar 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: excellent-reads
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
Dana Clinton
Mar 27, 2016 rated it liked it
In spite of the (I think) rather unfortunate title and ugly image on the cover of The Bitch in the House (a series of essays by 26 women, edited by Cathi Hannauer), this was an interesting read, with some excellent essays and some less good. I think women should in fact hear what other women have to say about their various experiences navigating the world, for some struggles are indeed unique to them; in fact, it would do men good to read them as well! There is a wide range of thoughts here abou ...more
Mar 10, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Mar 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
I particularly resonated with the essay subtitled "Staying Bad. Staying Married" and "My Marriage. My Affairs." They seem to resonate with a soulful understanding of life that acknowledges that "clear communication" and so-called "healthy" workshoppy skills are not the key to a satisfying relationship. They're good to have, but we all crave artful chaos uncertainty and mystery, maybe more than we crave openness and "I statements." Oh and that suffering is both a natural and unavoidable part of l ...more
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 ring
Aug 12, 2009 rated it it was ok
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
Feb 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Some of the essays seemed out of place, like the essay towards the end about the woman who is struggling with her weight. But, overall, I found it to be interesting. It is a collection of essays written by women about their relationships and motherhood. The authors shatter the myths of white picket fences, two well-adjusted kids, a home in the suburbs, six-figure salaries, homemade cookies, and stress-free living. They are honest (sometimes brutally so) about their situations and private thought ...more
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“I had wanted to get married, but I realized now that I never wanted to be a 'wife.” 1 likes
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