Women Talking

Women Talking

Book - 2018
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"A major work by one of our most beloved and esteemed writers, the novel is based on real events that happened between 2005 and 2009 in a remote Mennonite community where more than 100 girls and women were drugged unconscious and raped in the night by what they were told were "ghosts" or "demons." Women Talking is an imagined response to these real events. It takes place over 48 hours, as eight women hide in a hayloft while the men are in a nearby town posting bail for the perpetrators. They have come together to debate, on behalf of all the women and children in the community, whether to stay or leave before the men return. Taking minutes is the one man invited by the women to witness the conversation--a former outcast whose own surprising story is revealed as the women talk. By turns poignant, furious, witty, acerbic, tender, devastating, and heartbreaking, the voices in this extraordinary novel are unforgettable."--
Publisher: Toronto : Knopf Canada, ©2018
ISBN: 9780735273962
9780735273979
Characteristics: 216 pages ;,22 cm.

Opinion

From Library Staff

Acerbic, funny, tender, sorrowful and wise, Women Talking is composed of equal parts humane love and deep anger. It is award-winning writer Miriam Toews' most astonishing novel to date, containing within its two short days and hayloft setting an expansive, timeless universe of thinking and feelin... Read More »


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BarbMCampbell
Dec 08, 2019

Difficult, but brilliant.

d
dd6363
Oct 23, 2019

If I could give this book negative stars, I would.
It has to be the worst written book I have ever attempted to read ("attempted" because I could not waste any more of my time with this conglomeration of words). Reviews by critics claiming "flawless, ferocious work of art" and "brilliant design" just proves that critics of novels, as with art, are not to be trusted. I have to wonder if they read the same book. No flow, no organization, no rhyme or reason to what is being told. As for a comparison to "The Handmaids Tale"...not sure what book that critic was reading, but it could not have been this one.
My advice...don't waste your time.

l
lukasevansherman
Oct 19, 2019

"There's no plot, we're only women talking."
Inspired by a true story, Canadian writer Miriam Toews's novel is set in a small Mennonite community, in which multiple women have been drugged and violated. Toews, who grew up Mennonite, structures her novel in an unusual way, which clearly turned off a number of readers. It's set up as the minutes of the women meeting to talk about what to do about the incidents, recorded by an ex-con named August. I thought it was an interesting approach and found the novel quite gripping and, despite its remote setting, relevant to contemporary social issues and debates.

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.

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