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Women Talking
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Archive: Other Books > Women Talking by Miriam Toews - 4 stars

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message 1: by Booknblues (last edited Apr 06, 2019 10:52PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Booknblues | 5349 comments I was intrigued when I read about the back story of the soon to be released Women Talking, so I pre-ordered it. As is the case in books which I order prior to their release, I try to read them ASAP and in this case was immediately after reading Educated. Both are treatises of the abuse of power in extreme patriarchal societies.

In the case of Women Talking it is based on a true account of Mennonite women in Bolivia who were first thought to be "ghost raped" but in actuality were sedated by bovine anesthetic and raped. This involved over 300 females, from children to elderly.

When Miriam Toews heard of this she wanted to write a novel about this. She creates a novel using minutes of a meeting in which the women discuss what they should do, while the men of the colony are providing bail for the perpetrators. As the women see it they have three choices, to stay and do nothing, to stay and fight back or to leave.

As one might imagine, minutes of a meeting doesn't drive a book at a fast pace, but it does provide compelling insights:

"Ona protests, quietly, that she doesn’t believe that at all. She doesn’t believe in authority, period, because authority makes people cruel. Salome interrupts: The people with authority or the people without? Mariche ignores Salome. How on earth can you not believe in authority? she asks Ona. How on earth can you believe in authority? says Ona."

The women in this society have been kept in ignorance, it is only the men who read and only the men who journey to the outside world. The writing is insightful and filled with philosophy. Here is a bit about the possibility of acquiring a world map:

Salome asks whether there might also be, in the Chortiza colony, a map of this specific region? It would be best, she wisely points out, if we were to have a very detailed map that included highways, minor roads, rivers and rail tracks, for instance. If such a map exists. True, says Mariche. We aren’t planning to traverse the planet. Perhaps we are, counters Ona. She adds an interesting fact. Did you know, she says, that the migration period of butterflies and dragonflies is so long that it is often only the grandchildren who arrive at the intended destination?

I was really torn about the rating of this book, because I could envision a book about these women moving at a faster more compelling pace and this could possibly make for more enjoyable reading. I then realized that the pace was intentional and the women had some very serious considerations which called for the deliberately slow pace.

I don't believe this is a book for everyone but if this review caught your attention, perhaps it is for you.

Booknblues | 5349 comments For anyone interested here is a true account of the incident:

message 3: by Jgrace (new)

Jgrace | 2715 comments I can always count on you to find the most fascinating books!

Booknblues | 5349 comments Jgrace wrote: "I can always count on you to find the most fascinating books!"

It is fascinating and that is what kept me reading. It isn't fast paced by any account as it represents a difficult decision. I confess to becoming impatient while reading it and that accounts for the 4 star rather than 5 and almost was a 3 star.

Those who love character driven may appreciate this.

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