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9 Reviews
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it!
Rhoda Janzen is 40ish English professor. She is married to Nick, successful and happy. Well, at least she thought she was...

"Which is all to say that given the surprising events of the Year of the Pee Bag, I assumed I was safe from ill heath and trauma for decades. But no." "Two months after the move to the expensive lakefront property, Nick left me for a guy...
Published on Dec 8 2009 by Luanne Ollivier

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
The spirited single woman’s take on an oft-misunderstood religion reminded me of Aleesa Sutton's wry, moving Diary of a Single Mormon Female. Janzen's book had some fun moments and good recipes but I don't feel inclined to read the sequel.
Published 19 months ago by Urbano


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, Jan. 11 2013
This review is from: Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home (Paperback)
The spirited single woman’s take on an oft-misunderstood religion reminded me of Aleesa Sutton's wry, moving Diary of a Single Mormon Female. Janzen's book had some fun moments and good recipes but I don't feel inclined to read the sequel.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it!, Dec 8 2009
By 
Luanne Ollivier - See all my reviews
(#1 HALL OF FAME)    (TOP 10 REVIEWER)   
Rhoda Janzen is 40ish English professor. She is married to Nick, successful and happy. Well, at least she thought she was...

"Which is all to say that given the surprising events of the Year of the Pee Bag, I assumed I was safe from ill heath and trauma for decades. But no." "Two months after the move to the expensive lakefront property, Nick left me for a guy he'd met on [...]. (Yep - it's real)

So, with the [...] thing and some health issues, Janzen moves back to her parent's home to gather herself together. Janzen was brought up in the Mennonite church, but chose to not actively pursue the Mennonite life and faith as an adult. Her parents are very active in the church.

When she goes home,we are treated (and I say treated because this is one of the best memoirs I've read) to an intimate look at her family, friends, community and her childhood memories.

Janzen's voice is fresh and funny, witty, wry and warm. I can't remember the last time I laughed so much reading a book. Janzen puts it all out there - she is brutally honest in revealing the shortcomings in her marriage and her part in it. No subject is sacrosanct. Body functions, sex, friendships, family, community, religion, food - you name it. I enjoyed 'meeting' her family - especially her mother, who has a perpetual sunny outlook on life, no matter what. The descriptions of Mennonite life were fascinating.

Janzen's exploration of her life and her future, by calling on her past make for a riveting read. I absolutely loved it. A memoir you must read and then pass on to every one of your friends.

(Canadian connection - Janzen's mother is from the Ontario area, which boasts a large Mennonite community)
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ultimately a disappointment, Sept. 25 2010
By 
A. York "Scrapbook Diva" (Vancouver, Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home (Paperback)
I wanted to love this book, I really did. Some parts were amusing, thoughtful and well written but overall, I can't recommend this book.

Like the Biblical book of Isaiah, her stories/narratives are disjointed and have absolutely no chronological order. I found it confusing and annoying at times.

Her sophisticated vernacular was pretentious, disdainful and vainglorious. She's a scholar, we get it, but I found the vocabulary she used to be passive/aggressive. I'm humble; no, I'm not.

Growing up within the Mennonite culture myself, I could relate to many things. In particular, her writing on 'Big Jobs' was so dead-on that I couldn't help but laugh out loud. What made it funnier, at least to me, was that whilst I was reading, I was also in the very act she was speaking of. Overall though, I found her stories about the culture to be patronizing in a disdainful, academic way. She lacks significance through faith, so she tries to accumulate self-worth through education and academia.

I like to see people moving forward and I didn't get the sense that she did. She makes notoriously bad decisions concerning male relationships; hasn't seemed to learn anything about it and she cites an appreciate of faith, in general, but I believe her self-promotion disallows her from ever fully engaging in a meaningful spiritual relationship with the God that her parents worship. The endorsement on the front by Elizabeth Gilbert confirms that like Elizabeth, so speaks a lot but doesn't actually say anything.

It is my book club's pick for this month and I'm looking forward to the discussion.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A truly hilarious memoir, Dec 4 2009
By 
BookChick (Simcoe, ON Canada) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
After Rhoda Janzen's bi-polar husband, Nick, leaves her for a man that he meets on [...], her life starts to fray a little at the edges. She has a huge mortgage on a house that she can no longer afford, she's a little sore at having been left by her husband for a man, and to top it all off she's in an accident with a drunk driver which leaves her bruised and battered. Seeking comfort that only a mother can provide, Rhoda heads back to the Mennonite home that she grew up in. What follows is the often hilarious, yet often insightful story of the time that Rhoda spends at home with her parents as she begins to heal both emotionally and physically.

This was an absoutely hilarious and very honest memoir.Rhoda's parents come across as people that you would want to meet in person: her mom is comfortable with discussing body parts and bodily fluids, even while cooking, and her dad insists that everyone comes into his office when he receives a funny e-card. This book was more than just a funny recollection of a series of events in the author's life, though. It went far deeper than that. While she's home with the people that love her the most Rhoda is able to come to terms with the issues that she hasn't been dealing with. She examines why she has left her faith behind while she pursues a life of academia; she examines why she refused to leave her husband who could be the sweetest guy in the world at some times, and emotionally abusive at others. She reflects on how lucky she is to have her friends, her sister, and her sympathetic students (she teaches English at a University) and she finds that by confronting her past she is able to move into the future. This book is also enlightening regarding the Mennonite way of life- Rhoda even helpfully includes a section at the end about Mennonite history for anyone who is interested (which I found fascinating). The moral of the story? Home is where the healing often begins, and humour can assist with the process.

I would love to read a follow-up to this novel. I'm dying to know if Rhoda gets to keep her house or if she decides to sell it, and I also want to know if she finds love again. I'm sure that anyone who reads Mennonite in a Little Black Dress will want to know what happens to this intelligent, witty woman.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Cute!, Sept. 26 2013
This review is from: Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home (Paperback)
I must say for the most part I enjoyed this book. I did find some dry parts where I started to skim the pages (mostly when food was involved), however for the most part I found it really upbeat and cute. I loved the positive vibes and quirky comments her mother would make, best part of the book for me :) Worth the read!
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5.0 out of 5 stars What a great heritage!, May 13 2013
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Awesome book; very funny and moving to hear Rhoda's "take" on her heritage; how she rejected it and questioned it for so long; and then finally realized the blessings she had because of it!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Mennonite in a little Black Dress, Feb. 8 2013
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I really enjoy this author. She has my sense of humour and is easy to read. I can tell she majored in writing and literature in University. Very smart, funny gal.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't waste your time, Sept. 24 2010
By 
Andrea Van Wieringen (Toronto, ON) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home (Paperback)
This is a horribly written memoir. I felt the author's thoughts were all over the place throughout the entire book. I can't speak for the last 20 pages because I had to give up at that point. The author mentions one to many times how she's an academic and likes to further prove this point by throwing in words that I have never seen, heard, or read before. I thought there would more personal details (this is a memoir isn't it?) about the breakdown of her marriage, but there is alot left to imagination. This book is basically about mennonite cooking and clothing. So boring! Don't waste your time or money. I feel so ripped off.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Expected more, Nov. 7 2010
By 
Kadi Kaljuste (Toronto, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home (Paperback)
Parts of the book were humourous and quite entertaining but, overall, it was difficult to follow from a chronological perspective. It was downright confusing. Also found the author's language expertise heavy-handed and, at times, quite obnoxious. The Mennonite anecdotes were the most interesting parts of the book.
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Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home
Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home by Rhoda Janzen (Paperback - April 13 2010)
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