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Mennonite in a Little Black Dress (Mennonite #1)

3.17  ·  Rating details ·  28,407 Ratings  ·  4,241 Reviews

A hilarious and moving memoir—in the spirit of Anne Lamott and Nora Ephron—about a woman who returns home to her close-knit Mennonite family after a personal crisis

Not long after Rhoda Janzen turned forty, her world turned upside down. It was bad enough that her brilliant husband of fifteen years left her for Bob, a guy he met on, but that same week a car acciden

Kindle Edition, 272 pages
Published (first published 2009)
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Kim Riffle Yes, it's real. There is a sequel that is equally good. She's had quite a life and shares some wonderful things learned/experienced along the way.
Gabrielle Not during this heat wave, but then maybe I ought to try cold borscht?

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P***a X?
You can read this book in one of two ways: either as a straight memoir by an English professor who had several personal challenges including a bad car accident who went home to her Mennonite parents to recover and wrote this book. Very simplistic and fairly enjoyable, although as Mennonites are nowhere near as separated from modern society as the Amish, there are few interesting insights into a really different culture.

Or you can read this as a thinly-disguised hate book against her ex-husband
Aug 07, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I continued reading past the first chapter only by accident. I had set up the book on my nursing stand, and each time I finished nursing, I was too distracted with the baby to remember to change out the book. But if I'd had free hands, I'd have thrown it against the wall.

In this book, Rhoda Janzen commits the following crimes:

--she makes fun of her family members for being backwards hicks -- in mean ways

--she makes snarky comments about almost everyone and everything -- snarky comments which she
Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
Dec 22, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Florence (Lefty) by: P***a X?
All things considered what an upbeat & funny story. The way she chose to deal with her husband leaving her for a man, without excessive bitterness or vindictiveness showed a lot of class. She dealt with the Mennonite Community in the same way, providing clear & logical reasons for why she left the faith while refraining from taking cheap shots. When her life was crumbling around her they were there for her with steaming bowls of borscht. I fell in love with her mother:)
Good writer, witt
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
I read the first 60 pages of this book one night when I couldn't sleep. It had me laughing hysterically many times in that 60 pages. The kind of laughter where you're glad no one else is around because you're honking and braying and sucking in air like some kind of asthmatic donkey.

Sad to say, she pretty much used up her good material in that first 60 pages. The rest of the book is well-written enough. (She is, after all, an English prof.) But it consists mostly of long, rambling shaggy-dog sto
Feb 06, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is going to sound weird, but I up to page 184 and then just stopped (and there are only 241 pages in the book). I think I kept reading because I had no other book to read. Finally, I came to a realization: "I don't like this book and I have ZERO interest in what might occur in the final forty pages."

I disliked the author's voice. I'm not sure how to explain the voice, but the best description I can give is that it sounds like she's trying too hard to be breezy and funny and witty...and I fo
Clif Hostetler
Oct 20, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
This book is an example of turning lemons into lemonade as only a skilled writer can do. Have you ever noticed that some of the most interesting stories we tell others are those personal experiences where everything went wrong? Well, Rhoda Janzen has written about a time in her life when everything that could go wrong happened. Her skilled writing has turned her memories into an entertaining, often humorous, memoir. Contrary to Thomas Wolfe's novel, "You Can't Go Home Again," Rhoda went home to ...more
May 06, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: nobody, actually
Full disclosure: this book annoyed me enough that I stopped at chapter 6. Maybe it gets better, but I wasn't in the mood to waste my time finding out.

First, know that if you are looking for insight into the Mennonite way of life, this is not the book for you. Though the author was raised in a Mennonite community, and returns to it when her marriage ends, she is not a practicing Mennonite herself. She actually tends to mock her family in what may be intended to be a lighthearted way, but sometime
Oct 06, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dear writers of memoirs: your books still need to follow a plot arc. It doesn't matter that you are writing stuff that happened to you. You can't just start writing about an experience and then throw in anecdote A because you happen to remember it and then include random scenes just because they're funny without giving us the overall context and point of your book. I should know in the first chapter of your book what book is about.

This book does not live up to its potential. Janzen has great mat
Debbie "DJ"
Jul 11, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, humor, religious
I had no idea what to expect of this book, but it is hilarious! I had been needing a break from some heavier reading, and this was just the ticket. I would love to hear the audio version as this author is a true comedian.

Her story tells of the ending of her fifteen year marriage to a guy named Bob, who her husband met on She takes refuse in in going home to her family who are Mennonites. Somewhere around half way through this memoir takes a turn, and while still being humorous, a lot of
Apr 14, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
Yes, this book was “laugh out loud” funny in many places and Rhoda Janzen’s humorous tone made it a quick and easy read, but I was puzzled by why she chose the path she did and kept looking for more than this book contained.

Throughout the reading of this entire book, I kept wondering one question. Why?...WHY did Rhoda so totally throw off the religion of her youth in her 20’s? Why did she seem almost hell bent to cast off every vestige of Christianity and Mennonitism in particular? WHY did she m
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Rhoda Janzen is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling Mennonite in a Little Black Dress and the poetry collection Babel’s Stair. She teaches English and creative writing at Hope College in Holland, Michigan.

Rhoda Janzen holds a PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles, where she was the University of California Poet Laureate in 1994 and 1997. She is the author of Babel's Stair,

More about Rhoda Janzen...

Other Books in the Series

Mennonite (2 books)
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“In my opinion, sexiness comes down to three things: chemistry, sense of humor, and treatment of waitstaff at restaurants.” 45 likes
“I think maybe I'd still nod and smile and have lunch with him. I think maybe I'd still go to the Noam Chomsky documentary later that evening. And maybe I'd even marry him a couple of weeks later. Is it ever really a waste of time to love someone, truly and deeply, with everything you have?” 7 likes
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