Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
At last, a Mennonite who writes like a Jew. Profane, profound and wickedly funny. This is one of those juiced up autobiographies where the author admits to some exaggerations for the sake of the narrative. The book is not so much about Mennonites or black dresses as it is the author's coming to terms with the fact that the man whom she loves left her for another man named Bob whom he met on gay.com, followed by a serious car accident six days later that left her with multiple broken bones.
Rhoda Janzen grew up in California, of Russian Mennonite immigrants, who belonged to the Mennonite Brethren Church, a less severe form of Mennonitism than most of the conservative Mennonites with whom people in the Midwest and the east are familiar. She is now an English professor at Hope College in Michigan
For some reason, several of my friends who are women disliked the book immensely. It would be fun to talk about the reasons for that. They have said they didn't like the tone she took towards her family, particularly her sisters-in-law whom she skewers rather effectively; that she seemed to flaunt her education and the freedom to use words not normally heard in polite company, and that some of the factual details are wrong. I have my suspicions about why men might react differently to the book than women. It probably has to do with why men are always more charitable towards beautiful women in little black dresses.
This book has gotten a lot of attention nationally, getting rave reviews in the New York Times, Time Magazine and other national outlets. She is apparently now writing another book tentatively called "Backsliding," in which she tells about her journey back to a more spiritual outlook and her marriage to a truckdriver. I can hardly wait.