Wednesday, August 11, 2010

angry housewives eating bon bons

Lilly's resistance to naps has been overcome by sickness. At first, she'd wake up from a cough or congestion after less than half an hour. She still has a fierce cough and an endless stream of snot, but she will nap and often around two hours. It's an amazing feeling. And so needed. Especially now that I'm also sick. So as soon as she's asleep in her bed, I take refuge in my bed to rest and read: Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons (2003). It's so good! I love it. Set in the late sixties - early seventies, it's about the growing friendship between five women. From different parts of the country, they get to know each other when they end up living on the same street in a residential neighborhood of Minneapolis. They are all mothers of young children, so there's much to identify with, and compare and contrast, about friendship, gender roles, motherhood, parenting, and more; attitudes to race, homosexuality, war.

These are not the trapped housewives critiqued by Beddy Friedan in The Feminine Mystique (1963). They are stay-at-home moms, just as I am, with a knowledge of the lack of gender equality. One is a highly politically active demonstrator and feminist: her husband is the one who helps out the most with the kids, but she's also the one who's fought most for gender equality. Another finds out she's cheated on by her husband. A third feels she lives a secret as she keeps covering up--even to her husband--for her dysfunctional upbringing by a non-existent father and an alcoholic mother. A fourth became a widow at young age. And the fifth is the daughter of a pastor (who verbally abused her), married to a doctor (who verbally and physically assaults her); she has a growing awareness that she is indeed angry and most certainly the victim of unfair treatment. And not just from her husband.

The book takes its title from this husband's derogatory remark about the book club the women found, and it's through this book club they bond. The book is told from the different women's perspectives, each taking turn to host book club meetings (they skip "hostess" in favor of "host," convinced by the activist's argument about the discriminating implications of such gendered terms, though one member takes offense against the feminist turn against the semantics and the feminine). Here they talk, about the book and their lives, while they drink martinis, smoke cigarettes, and eat savory food that they all contribute to, potluck style. They share lots of good laughs and some cries. They find community and a sense of belonging; they find themselves. 

I'm not even halfway done yet, and so while Lilly's still napping, I'm going to go curl up in bed now with my book! Check it out; it's worth it!

1 comment:

  1. Have you read Christie Mellor's Three Martini Playdate? Erik and I were rolling with laughter!



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