Mennonite in A Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home (Review)

August 13, 2010

Book cover for "Mennonite in a Little Black Dress" by Rhoda Janzen.Title: Mennonite in A Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home

Author: Rhoda Janzen

Narrator: Hillary Huber

Publication Year: 2009

Pages: 272 (audio length: 8 hours 15 minutes)

Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir

Source: Audiobook purchased from

From the cover:

Not long after Rhoda Janzen turned forty, her world turned upside down. It was bad enough that her husband of fifteen years left her for Bob, a guy he met on, but that same week a car accident left her injured. Needing a place to rest and pick up the pieces of her life, Rhoda packed her bags, crossed the country, and returned to her quirky Mennonite family’s home, where she was welcomed back with open arms and offbeat advice. (Rhoda’s good-natured mother suggested she get over her heartbreak by dating her first cousin — he owned a tractor, see.)

Written with wry humor and huge personality — and tackling faith, love, family, and aging — Mennonite in a Little Black Dress is an immensely moving memoir of healing, certain to touch anyone who has ever had to look homeward in order to move ahead.

I had seen this one around the blogs a while back, so when it came up on sale on Audible, I decided to go for it.

Rhoda’s story is fairly straightforward – her husband Nick has left her after years of emotional mayhem, for a man he met on, and she almost immediately got in an (unrelated) car accident which left her with the unfortunate necessity of going “back home” to the Mennonites for a while during the healing process. This memoir is a mix of what has happened in her recent, adult life, pre- and post-divorce, as well as interspersed childhood anecdotes. For the most part, the stories are poignant or somewhat comical, but usually interesting.

Despite that, though, I can’t really give Mennonite in A Little Black Dress a rave review. I’m not really sure why this is, but it just didn’t grab me. Maybe it’s because I’m far too young to understand what the woman has gone through, and it really is her life as opposed to a fiction novel. At any rate, I found the passages about Mennonite society and family life to be interesting, even if this wasn’t my favourite read of the year.

You might find this one interesting if you’re at a later life stage than I am (as in: married, divorced, or at least of a certain middle-aged-ness), or if you have an inclination towards the Mennonites. It wasn’t a bad book, just not my cup of tea!



  • Amy August 14, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    Doesn’t sound like my type of thing either so I shall avoid it for now. Thanks for the review!

  • Lydia (The Lost Entwife) August 15, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    Thank you for your honest review – I was considering this one but it might just be that I’m not at the right place in my life for it.

  • Becky August 15, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    I’ve seen this book around, but non fiction isn’t my thing. After your review, I definitely don’t think it’s for me!

    Great Review! New follower here!

    • Carina August 16, 2010 at 1:11 am

      Great to have you! I think it could be a good book for somebody else, but it just wasn’t for me.

  • Kristen August 15, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    I rarely read memoirs myself and maybe it is my age as well.. but I feel like I’ve just got started really living and to be honest – they’re usually kinda tragic or uplifting and I’m a middle of the road type reader.

    I’m glad you gave it a shot even it it wasn’t the perfect read. Thanks for the review! 🙂

    • Carina August 16, 2010 at 1:12 am

      Yeah, I feel you. I often really like memoirs – but there has to be something that I can relate to in some way, or that I’m at least interested in learning about. This just didn’t do it for me.

  • Heather August 15, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    My mother recently gave me two full boxes of books, one of which is this one. I’ve been looking forward to reading it. I am always so interested in small religious communities, be they of the sweet, peaceful Amish kind or the strange, creepy polygamist kind 🙂 There is just something fascinating about a group of people living so far out of the norm. I’m one of those older, married, divorced, married again types, so hopefully I will like it 🙂

    • Carina August 16, 2010 at 1:12 am

      It might work for you, indeed! I think I’m just not at the right point in my life to have enjoyed it.

  • Heather August 15, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    I forgot to say-cute layout, and I am also a teacher, though in Chicago, not the great white north!

    • Carina August 16, 2010 at 1:12 am

      Thanks, and yay for more teachers!

  • Jo August 15, 2010 at 8:48 pm

    I actually ordered this for our library’s collection, but hadn’t picked it up yet. I like that you gave an honest review of it. Sometimes, a book can sound really good, and then just not really resonate. 🙂

    • Carina August 16, 2010 at 1:13 am

      Yup! There was nothing really wrong with it, just not my cup of tea.

  • zibilee August 15, 2010 at 9:08 pm

    I just bought this book for my Kindle and have been anxious to read it after reading some excerpts. I read the part about the cousin and the tractor, and immediately decided I needed to read it. I hope the rest of it doesn’t disappoint!

    • Carina August 16, 2010 at 1:13 am

      I hope so, too! It wasn’t a bad book, just not for me.

  • Sheila (Bookjourney) August 15, 2010 at 11:36 pm

    Thanks for your thoughts on this one, I guess I really didnt know what it was about until I read your review.

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