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 Gay.com. (Yep - it's real)
So, with the Gay.com 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.
Want a sneak peak? Read the first chapter of Mennonite in a Little Black Dress. The publisher, Henry Holt, has lots of extras - photos, reading guide, audio and video as well. Oh and some Mennonite recipes too.
(Canadian connection - Janzen's mother is from the Ontario area, which boasts a large Mennonite community)