8 Dec 2012

10 Reasons to Love "Mennonite In A Little Black Dress"

There are a lot (a lot!) of reasons to love "Mennonite in a Little Black Dress" by Rhoda Janzen but here I will pick out ten in the hope that this will convince to read this brilliant book:

1) Janzen grew up in a Mennonite community, left it to become an academic and then went back home to cook and write a fantastic memoir when her hapless husband Nick left her for a guy named Bob that he met on gay.com. She rocks.

2) This quote from page 24: "I hope it's clear by now that the Mennonites wouldn't want me. The only reason they're nice to me is that my dad is famous, my mom makes great pie, and I babysat their kids when I was twelve."

3) Her take on men (from page 62): "Hannah's husband was fabulous. Among Phil's many excellent qualities was the expression of zero interest in leaving his wife for a guy he had met on Gay.com."

4) She manages to make Germanic food such as Platz, Borscht and persimmon cookies sound oddly attractive and I did actually buy persimmons to try the recipes at the back of the book. Thanks Rhoda's mom!

5) Her musings on modern womanhood (page 166): "Consider how impossible it is, for example, to aspire to the role of virtuous woman when professional commitments dramatically interfere with jam delivery to oldsters."

6) Her musings on what makes a man sexy (page 203): "In my opinion, sexiness comes down to three things: chemistry, sense of humour, and treatment of waitstaff at restaurants."

7) Her observations on the sorority that she is faculty adviser to (page 210): "One twelve-degree evening in February, when there was eight inches of snow under a layer of slippery drizzle, my sorority gals celebrated their fellowship by donning denim minis, pink tights, and stilettos."

8) Her explanation of the difference between Amish and Mennonite (page 226): "But the Amish cut away from the Mennonites in 1693 because the rest of us were too liberal. That's rich, no? A liberal Mennonite is an oxymoron if ever there was one."

9) The way she manages her mother who is a typical, practical Mennonite woman who at times approaches life in a different way: "If your mother takes a frozen uncooked chicken in her suitcase to Hawaii, all bets are off. You just go with the flow."

10) The fact that she manages to tell a tragic story about a woman who looks after and takes care of her mentally frail husband who then leaves her when she herself is at her most fragile without letting the grief and the unfairness take over. Instead she turns it into a story about life,  hope and looking towards the future, she is an inspiration.


  1. THis book has been on my radar since it was published--I even bought it for my sister's birthday that year--but your review is really prompting me to buy it and read it soon!

  2. It really is hilarious and so touching - once I started it, I couldn't put it down so I kept on reading while I should be sleeping and ended up being late for work the next day because I overslept.. but it was worth it :-) Great read!