Book Title: Women Talking
Author: Miriam Toews
Release Date: 04/02/19
Star Rating: Not what I thought it would be.
Disclaimer: I received this book free from Netgalley in return for an unbiased review.
I was excited to start this book. Firstly, because it has been favorably compared to another favorite of mine, The Handmaid’s Tale. (Although, to be frank, what book isn’t being compared to that nowadays, right?) It also has a very nice quote from Margaret Atwood herself, so I felt it important to read this book.
It is a fictionalized account based on a real events that occurred in a Mennonite colony in Bolivia a number of years ago. Here is the book’s description:
One evening, eight Mennonite women climb into a hay loft to conduct a secret meeting. For the past two years, each of these women, and more than a hundred other girls in their colony, has been repeatedly violated in the night by demons coming to punish them for their sins. Now that the women have learned they were in fact drugged and attacked by a group of men from their own community, they are determined to protect themselves and their daughters from future harm.
While the men of the colony are off in the city, attempting to raise enough money to bail out the rapists and bring them home, these women—all illiterate, without any knowledge of the world outside their community and unable even to speak the language of the country they live in—have very little time to make a choice: Should they stay in the only world they’ve ever known or should they dare to escape?
Based on real events and told through the “minutes” of the women’s all-female symposium, Toews’s masterful novel uses wry, politically engaged humor to relate this tale of women claiming their own power to decide.
The book is a set of conversations. There is no real action, it is all talk. This screwed with my expectations a little. After that description I was expecting something to … happen I guess. Once I realized the book was going to be confined to this one meeting I tried to adjust my expectations and keep going. Unfortunately, it kept on in the same vein for its entirety. It is mostly philosophical debates among the woman in regards to the choice they need to make about how to deal with this situation and their religious beliefs. Here is where it lost me. I hate philosophy books. I took a class last year in philosophy and it was like torture. So this book did not work for me at all.
If you like philosophy, especially about religious doctrine, then this book will appeal to you. I don’t feel like the description did anything to promote the book. I was expecting a completely different book, and I was never able to fully divorce myself from my disappointment at not getting that story told. It’s too bad. I wanted to like this book. It’s just not for me.