Review: Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen

28 Dec

Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going HomeMy rating: 4 of 5 stars

Mennonite in a Little Black Dress was a fun read.

From the publisher’s web site:

Not long after Rhoda Janzen turned forty, her world turned upside down. It was bad enough that her brilliant husband of fifteen years left her for Bob, a guy he met on, but that same week a car accident left her with serious injuries. What was a gal to do? Rhoda packed her bags and went home. This wasn’t just any home, though. This was a Mennonite home. While Rhoda had long ventured out on her own spiritual path, the conservative community welcomed her back with open arms and offbeat advice. (Rhoda’s good-natured mother suggested she date her first cousin — he owned a tractor, see.) It is in this safe place that Rhoda can come to terms with her failed marriage; her desire, as a young woman, to leave her sheltered world behind; and the choices that both freed and entrapped her.

I found it an interesting story. Rhoda Janzen had an eventful life, and I enjoyed hearing about it.

I loved her relationship with her sister and with her mother. Her mother was an interesting balance of open mindedness and of what we expect a Mennonite to be. It was clear that Rhoda and her mother loved each other even while living very different lives. Rhoda and her sister both left the Mennonite way of life, but they ended up living differently from one another as well.  These women accepted their differences, and

I wasn’t so thrilled with her husband, but I wasn’t supposed to be. I wish the relationship had been a little less extreme, but I suspect the author wished the same thing.

The book jumped between the various stages of Rhoda’s life. This helped build the picture of the woman that Rhoda became.

Mostly, I enjoyed Mennonite because it was well written and funny. The anecdotes were great, and the attitude towards her life was refreshing. If I had one complaint about this book, it is that I was hoping for more depth. I think the depth might have been there, but I lost track of it with all the fun I was having.

I’m thinking of suggesting this for a book club read. I think we’d enjoy talking about the specifics of the story, about the relationship between our childhood religion and current beliefs, and deciding if the book had depth or was simply an entertaining read.

I received this book from the publisher for review. I appreciate this opportunity.


Posted by on December 28, 2009 in books, reviews


Tags: , , ,

7 responses to “Review: Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen

  1. Lisa

    December 28, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    My mom is supposed to loaning me this one and it sounds like one I’m really going to enjoy!

  2. kim v

    December 29, 2009 at 5:57 pm

    This does sound like great club book! I’m putting it on my wish list.

  3. Shirla Willems

    April 22, 2010 at 10:25 am

    I love this book. Being brought up in the MB church I can so relate to all the funny little Mennonite things, and secret that we fell are only in our family. You have hit the nail on the head with this book!


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