I started out really enjoying the opening chapter of Mennonite in a Little Black Dress. The author is droll and self-deprecating, describing her recovery from botched surgery and her need to use a catheter bag, and her abandonment by her husband for a man met on gay.com, with a light, wry tone which made me laugh aloud several times. Sadly, the remainder didn't live up to the promise of the opening. Confused and wondering where to turn, Rhoda Janzen returns home to her Mennonite parents, whose lifestyle she has long since abandoned. But don't expect any revelations, or even any sense of narrative. What follows is a mixture of Janzen's memories of her relationship with her bipolar, bisexual husband, interspersed with her almost anthropological observations of her extended family. I was unable to read the memoir without wondering, increasingly uncomfortably, what her family felt about their exposure to public scrutiny, and why Janzen would want to do the same for her own incredibly destructive marital relationship. The urge to do so would have made more sense had she drawn any significant insights from her return to her Mennonite roots, but a tentative discussion with her sister about whether a very religious upbringing has made it difficult for her to assert herself is about as far as it gets. Her marriage is shocking to read about, full of frankly abusive behaviour from her husband which is continually excused on grounds of his bipolarity and brilliant personality, but almost as shocking that even when the marriage ends due to his infidelity, Janzen herself still doesn't seem to see him as abusive.
4 people found this helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?