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Extended Audio Sample Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home, by Rhoda Janzen Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (18,104 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Rhoda Janzen Narrator: Hillary Huber Publisher: Highbridge Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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A hilarious and moving memoir in the spirit of Anne Lamott and Nora Ephron about a woman who returns home to her Mennonite family after a personal crisis.

The same week her husband of fifteen years ditches her for a guy he met on Gay.com, a partially inebriated teenage driver smacks her VW Beetle head-on. Marriage over, body bruised, life upside-down, Rhoda does what any sensible forty-three-year-old would do: She goes home.

But hers is not just any home. It’s a Mennonite home, the scene of her painfully uncool childhood and the bosom of her family: handsome but grouchy Dad, plain but cheerful Mom. Drinking, smoking, and slumber parties are nixed; potlucks, prune soup, and public prayer are embraced. Having long ago left the faith behind, Rhoda is surprised when the conservative community welcomes her back with open arms—and offbeat advice. She discovers that this safe, sheltered world is the perfect place to come to terms with her failed marriage and the choices that both freed and entrapped her.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Rhoda’s life may not sound amusing at first: She’s a poet/professor whose husband just left her for Bob, whom he met on Gay.com. But what happens after she heads home to her Mennonite parents is beyond funny. Her wry, affectionate depictions of her frugal dad, sweet but slightly scatological mom, and a youth in which jeans and dancing were off limits make for an honest and entertaining memoir.”

    Family Circle

  • “Readers will find themselves laughing out loud at Janzen’s wry commentary…The playful humor is balanced, however, with genuine thoughtfulness, especially as Janzen reconnects with childhood companions and reflects on how different her own life might have been, had she chosen to remain in the Mennonite community instead of embracing an intellectual life. Mennonite in a Little Black Dress will resonate with any reader who has ever thought about how such choices shape our futures, or with anyone who has struggled to recapture faith—in God, in other people, or in oneself.”


  • “Hysterical…In the tradition of David Sedaris, it’s [Janzen’s] family who is the source of the book’s biggest laughs, and its heart.”

    Daily Beast

  • “A spirited, fascinating memoir…Janzen’s story reminds us what a beautiful gift our past can be.”

    Miami Herald

  • “Compelling…Janzen explores her past and her present with honesty and self-deprecation and the result is both hilarious and touching…[A] lively chronicle of the patience and strong sense of humor one needs to go home again.”


  • “This book is not just beautiful and intelligent, but also painfully—even wincingly—funny. It is rare that I literally laugh out loud while I’m reading, but Rhoda Janzen’s voice—singular, deadpan, sharp-witted, and honest—slayed me, with audible results. I have a list already of about fourteen friends who need to read this book. I will insist that they read it. Because simply put, this the most delightful memoir I’ve read in ages.”

    Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love

  • “This soulful, affecting first memoir…will enchant anyone who has ever gone back home after suffering a setback.”

    Library Journal (starred review)

  • “Janzen looks at her childhood religion with fresh, twinkling eyes…Janzen is always ready to gently turn the humor back on herself, though, and women will immediately warm to the self-deprecating honesty with which she describes the efforts of friends and family to help her re-establish her emotional well-being.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • Mennonite in a Little Black Dress is a hilarious collection of musings on Janzen’s childhood, marriage, and eccentric family…Janzen mines Mennonite culture for comic effect, but she does so with love.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “Hilarious and touching.”

    People (starred review)

  • Mennonite in a Little Black Dress is snort-up-your-coffee funny, breezy yet profound, and poetic without trying.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • Selected for the November 2009 Indie Next List
  • A New York Times Bestseller

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Carrie | 1/22/2014

    " laugh out loud funny in parts. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Ruth | 1/22/2014

    " If you have a background in the Mennonite community this book is HILARIOUS!!!!! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Pam | 1/17/2014

    " Having read several Amish books, I decided to read this. Rhoda Janzen moves back in with her Mennonite parents after an accident and a divorce. Though Rhoda has rejected the Mennonite faith, her parents welcome her home. Ms. Janzen gives us her views about her divorce and being raised a Mennonite. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by RaiLynn | 1/2/2014

    " I didn't really know what to expect when I picked this book up at a used book sale, but the author is really funny and she has some pretty interesting insights. "

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About the Author
Author Rhoda Janzen

Rhonda Janzen holds a PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles, where she was the University of California Poet Laureate in 1994 and 1997. She is the author of Babel’s Stair, a collection of poems, and her poems have also appeared in Poetry, the Yale Review, the Gettysburg Review, and the Southern Review. She teaches English and creative writing at Hope College in Holland, Michigan.