Women Talking by Miriam Toews
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.
I have a lot of thoughts about this book, so bear with me.
First things first: I think this is probably the most important book I’ll read all year. It covers such an important, heavy, difficult topic that needs to be discussed, and I really appreciate it for that.
What I liked:
- The women: I really liked how the women were portrayed. They’re all headstrong, smart, independent women despite their circumstances. I really liked how they weren’t put into the box of this domestic, docile, quiet woman. They all had personality and would express themselves.
- The plot: the plot is actually really interesting, and I’ve never read anything like it. I thought it moved along at a good pace and I liked the discussions the women had.
- The format: I thought the format actually really worked. Having it formatted like minutes would be was interesting and worked to get the point across.
What I didn’t like:
- The format: I know I literally just said I liked the format, but I also had issues with it. It made it harder to connect with the women and see into their lives. It just made it feel more distant, y’know? Partly this is my fault, though. I knew going in that I would probably have issues with the format, so I was expecting it.
- The narrator: the man that the women hire to write the minutes was,,,,, annoying. He would just throw random things in there. And maybe I’m too dumb to understand why they were connected, but it just pulled me out of the story a bit.
Overall, I enjoyed reading this book. It was a fairly quick read, despite the heavy topic, and I feel more informed now. But I felt pulled out of the story at times and found it kind of hard to follow.
So that’s my review for this book! Have you read Women Talking? What are your thoughts? Is it on your TBR? Had you heard anything about this incident before? Let me know!