Women Talking

Women Talking

eBook - 2019
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NAMED ONE OF THE MOST ANTICIPATED BOOKS OF 2019 BY ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY * VULTURE * BUZZFEED * BOSTON GLOBE * AV CLUB's * NYLON * MEDIUM * THE MILLIONS * HUFFINGTON POST * THE RUMPUS * LIT HUB * PUBLISHERS WEEKLY * THE WEEK * AM New York "This amazing, sad, shocking, but touching novel, based on a real-life event, could be right out of The Handmaid's Tale. " ?Margaret Atwood , on Twitter 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.
Publisher: New York : Bloomsbury Publishing USA, 2019
ISBN: 9781635572599
1635572592
Characteristics: 1 online resource (125 p.)

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g
glennon
Sep 16, 2019

Definitely not my kind of book. I got through three chapters and put it down. It is excruciating to read and deeply depressing!

d
DrTeva
Sep 15, 2019

Deeply depressing that these women were trapped in their lives. Horrific events; the men in the community used the women more cruelly than they ever would have treated their livestock.

SPL_Brittany Sep 10, 2019

A difficult topic that Toews dealt with respectfully. She does not hide the horrors the females endured and the lasting effect it has on the community, however despite this I enjoyed the novel. I enjoyed following the discussion between the women and how they looked at each option (to stay, to fight the men or to leave the community) from every angle to eventually arrived with their decision.
This is a book that would work well for book clubs as there is much to discuss, perfect for those who enjoy a philosophical read as well as those who enjoy books about Mennonite communities.

STPL_Emily Sep 07, 2019

This book was a difficult read as it is written in the style of meeting minutes and does have some repetition. That said, the story Toews tells is one that needs to be known. It is both heartbreaking and uplifting to read of the women stepping into their power within a community that grants them little.

wendybird Aug 22, 2019

I'd heard a lot about this book, both in the media and from colleagues, most of it quite positive but always with a caveat or two about the subject matter.
And, I'll echo that now - award winning Canadian author Miriam Toews based this novel on a startling news story she stumbled across, on the back pages of a 2013 newspaper....
Between 2005 and 2009, in a remote Bolivian Mennonite community, many girls and women awoke drowsy and in pain; attacks were attributed to God or Satan. After some time, it was revealed that 8 men in the community were using animal anesthetic to render their female victims unconscious, and then assaulting them.
The book is Toews reaction to these real events.
While the subject matter is nothing short of horrific, somehow the novel is not. It is set very much like a play - with a set cast of characters (the illiterate but highly intelligent women in the town, and teacher August Epp. The women gather in secret, in a barn loft, with Epp recording their conversations "for the record."
Everything is perfectly drawn, balancing the horrible recent past with the strength, faith, and community between the wives, daughters, aunties, and elders. The book seems to demonstrate, over and over, the best parts of humanity and hope in spite of what sparked it. I highly recommend it.

s
StrangelyExuberant
Jul 26, 2019

I could not finish this book. The writing style that is presented here is not one that is easily to follow. It is hard to keep track between the women for at least half of the book (at the time you figure out a way to remember which is which without flipping to the intro page). The story is not what I was expecting going into it at all. There was too much unsaid for someone not familiar with the Mennonites or their culture to understand. I would recommend this book if you are looking for a challenge. Not an easy read.

s
SidheWrites
Jul 04, 2019

This is based on actual events, however it isn't the story I assumed it would be. I have nothing against books that challenge me, but this was an extremely difficult read due to the subject matter and the fact that the crimes perpetrated against the women of this Mennonite Community are sadly not unique.

I was not a fan of the writing style, nor did I understand how the narrator could still carry so much guilt/baggage after being "out in the world" for so long. It is not as though they were insulated or uneducated. Did they suffer indoctrination/abuse that was so ingrained they were not able to find a way to let it go? If so, it wasn't addressed in the book at all but certainly would have explained things.

l
laphampeak
May 27, 2019

A very thought provoking novel based on a real event where eight women in a Mennonite community ponder and meticulously evaluate their life "after" events of horrific violation. Bear in mind these women have been led by a set of rules of submission and religious rule of law. It's a significant evaluation of decisions of whether to do anything, what to do, and how to do it. A slice of life in women's power.

k
KatG1983
May 27, 2019

I think I wasn't smart enough for this book. Didn't make it past page 80. It basically is a philosophical conversation on the topic of women's/human rights...and...it was too boring to continue.

TSCPL_Miranda May 12, 2019

Between 2005 and 2009, hundreds of girls and women were drugged and raped by men in their Mennonite community. At first, they were told that it was their wild female imagination. Then they were told that they were being attacked by the devil. The truth was that the women had been assaulted by their neighbors. The youngest known victim was 3 years old, the oldest 65. Women Talking is just as the title describes, a group of women gathering to talk about what happened and decide what they will do. The women are unable to read or write, so a male teacher from the colony is drafted to write an account of the conversations, to keep a record. Note: the teacher is considered a lesser man, someone not masculine enough to farm. The book reads like a transcript or meeting minutes, recorded faithfully, with occasional interjections from the writer's perspective. Over the course of several days, the women debate three options: do nothing, stay and fight, or leave. As they debate the options before them, the women discuss authority, power, Biblical interpretation of women's roles, how to best stay true to the pacifist tenets of their faith, and more. This is not a book that is fast-paced or driven by action, though the talks are conducted under a deadline. This is a conversation with philosophical leanings, driven by a true story almost too horrible to believe.
Women Talking is shocking, difficult, beautiful, and important. I had to read it in small bites and then give myself time to process before reading more, but ultimately it is a triumph, a story of women taking charge of their own destinies, and banding together to envision a better future.

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