Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Women Talking by Miriam Toews

This book was a little bit strange, but interesting nonetheless.  It is based on a true event when between 2005 and 2009 more than 100 girls and women in a remote Mennonite village were drugged and raped in the middle of the night.  The men of the community made them believe the rapes were committed by ghosts or demons.

In the novel, Toews imagines certain men in the community finally charged with rape and awaiting trial while three generations of women hide in a hayloft to debate whether the women and children of the community should stay or go.  They must hurry as the other men in the community are only away temporarily trying to post bail for the accused.

The book is written from the perspective of a male teacher whose family was excommunicated from the community when he was a teenager.  As a result he has seen more of the world and is better educated.  He is also ridiculed by the other men - seen as a failed farmer, effeminate and an outsider.  As he listens to the women debate what to do, he also tries to figure out his past in the community; as well as his future.

The interesting part of the book, is the dynamic of the women - they come from two different families, but their loyalties shift based on family ties, generation, past friendships and overall outlook.  They are also influenced by how closely they or their loved ones were touched by the rapes. All in all it is a very interesting account of what happens when women gain the strength to see through the lies fed to them by controlling men and try to take control of their own destinies.

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