Top positive review
My friend recommended The Mennonite in the Little Black Dress and I ...
on November 12, 2015
Robert Frost famously said that “home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” Rhoda Janzen’s, The Mennonite in the Little Black Dress proves Frost’s wisdom not only to be true, but in this case at least, beneficially healing. My friend recommended The Mennonite in the Little Black Dress and I ran and bought it right away because: 1) I love the kind of book that, at its core, dishes about a particular religion — kind of feels like insider trading to me; and 2) I’m married to a Mennonite. He’s non-practicing, okay, let’s call him lapsed, but like the Catholics (me), you can run, but the tribe is never far behind as Janzen points out so hysterically in The Mennonite in the Little Black Dress.
At the start of the book, Janzen, a 40-ish academic with no kids, but a husband whose bipolar nature may at times make her feel as though she has them, manifests a dis-ease necessitating surgery. Afterwards, her husband oh so lovingly nurses her back to health, but before the bedpans are even dry, he announces that he’s leaving her for Bob on Gay.com. Soon after, she gets crushed, literally, in an accident, hit hard and head on by a teenage driver. Not her fault, but there are those who say emotions are like magnets, drawing similar stuff to you, so if you’re feeling downtrodden, chances are the universe will hammer that point home again and again in the nicest of ways. But I digress.
When Janzen realizes that she’s teetering on the brink of financial ruin and simultaneously barely able to make the length of the living room without scooting across on her butt, she does what most people whose lives have been upended by fate and circumstance do when those lives seem impossible to piece back together. She goes home. To her parents house, the house of her childhood. Here’s the hilarious part: she writes about the whole sloppy mess in The Mennonite in the Little Black Dress, weaving in some homegrown mother wisdom and a few family recipes. Borscht, anyone? How about Warmer Kartoffelsalat? Janzen’s breezy style and never-ending ability to laugh at herself and her roots made me laugh out loud more than a few times (which is somewhat embarrassing if you read, as I do, on the elliptical machine at the gym). No matter where you read, pick up a copy of The Mennonite in the Little Black Dress, a brilliant, satirical, sometimes whimsical book, hilarious proof that there’s no place like home.