Edith's Reviews > Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home

Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen
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Apr 14, 2010

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bookshelves: 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 marry an atheist who totally denigrated her background? (She couldn’t even listen to hymns or hum them around him!) This marriage must have broken her parents’ hearts, given that they are devout Christians. WHY did she marry someone that she knew was bisexual? Isn’t that just inviting trouble into your house? She seemed to have no major beef with her parents; she adores her mother and finds her refreshingly delightful- a Proverbs 31 virtuous woman, nor does she have any major criticism of her father, a theologian and leader in the church. It would seem that they raised her lovingly and kindly. Rhoda’s casual, flippant way of speaking/writing about her life made me feel like there is another, much more serious and searching book that has not yet been written. She has a lot of psychological and spiritual issues that have not been examined in this book. And for someone who strives to be so intellectual, who prides herself on worldly wisdom (dear God, whatever that is), I was just stumped by her stupidity. It is certainly easy to be enamored of the world, but it would seem that Rhoda threw out the baby with the bath water when she embarked on higher education.

There is a promo Rhoda did for this book on “videos” on the web and I came to the conclusion that she is something of a quick-change artist. She has the ability to almost chameleon-like change her appearance...you would not recognize her from the book jacket photo or from the photos she uses on her promo. Her delivery is sassy. She tosses her story in your face; I found the breezy flippancy in her manner off-putting. She repeated the tale of her sister-in-law’s rudeness at Thanksgiving...but it would seem that for any rudeness aimed at her, she has certainly been willing and able to fling it back. It’s “the pot calling the kettle black.”

I read in the “Mennonite Weekly” that she has remarried a man of faith and returned to the church. The working title for her next book is “Backslider” and I hope this is a kinder book that gives up the sarcastic castigation of her family’s people and replaces it with understanding of self.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
April 14, 2010 – Shelved
August 6, 2012 – Shelved as: memoir

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Edith and now....the rest of the story.

You simply must read this! Are you surprised yet? Isn't this quite the ending to the story! Or at least to a very main aspect of the story?



Debbie I enjoyed your review and share your sentiments, Edith.

I am so irritated by her being loose with the facts, but then I consider that Janzen wrote the book to create a buzz in book circles and to make money. If she had told her story straight up, we would not be chatting about her on Goodreads so ultimately she achieved what I think was her goal.

Julia Great review, Edith. I think you've captured the essence of this book.

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