Tag Archives: Mennonite in a Little Black Dress

‘Mennonite in a Little Black Dress’, by Rhoda Janzen

I read this book when I still had a small dog who slept in my lap when I read. He didn’t really like this book, because I kept startling him every time I burst out laughing.
Rhoda Janzen’s husband leaves her for a guy called Bob who he met on gay.com. She is in a terrible car accident, and becomes unable to meet her mortgage payments. Her only option as she reels from all of this, is a return to her Mennonite home. Her humour and breezy voice move the story along as she rediscovers the warmth and strength of her roots, and her Mennonite mother is such a hoot!

Janzen was once poet laureate at UCLA, she now teaches writing at Hope College, and  is an excellent writer. Apparently she’s one of those teachers who has the reputation for being really tough, but if you survive the class, you learn so much.

Janzen believes that biography should be more than the story of a life.  She believes that in a memoir,  there must be movement from captivity to restoration: a resolving of a problem, as in music when a minor note resolves to a satisfying major in the final note. For the author the redemption was to rediscover the value of her upbringing when she returned to the family home.

Click the link below if you want to hear Rhoda Janzen speak about her Mennonite home and her upbringing. There are no spoilers in it.  At four minutes it’s a bit long for an interview, but if you’re like me, hearing and seeing the author enhances the reading of the book.