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
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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SavannahElyse
Jun 04, 2019

I really liked the concept of this book, but I have to say that it was exhausting to read. The book is written from the perspective of a man who is writing the minutes from a meeting between Mennonite women who are to decide between two extremes: whether to remain among their abusers, or leave their community altogether. His writings include everything the women say and do in this meeting, not omitting bickering and little arguments between the women. On top of this, the actual content of what they discuss is very philosophical in nature. I personally felt drained every time I picked up the novel, and struggled to read more than 20 pages at a time.

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.

t
therapymutt
Apr 20, 2019

don't rush the read the story is in the conversation. not the ending

m
Miriamrg
Apr 12, 2019

NYTimes recommendation

l
lettheheelingbegin
Apr 11, 2019

My first by this author. An original story idea--gritty-- that’s for sure. I found it a bit slow at first, but engaging by a third of the way through this short book. Based on an actual story of Mennonite women in their rarified traditional colony! The book primarily consists of the women’s discussions about what they should do after several of their men are arrested for their depraved misdeeds. Good writing and a fine ending. I've already put a hold on my next book by Toews.

b
bronteside
Feb 23, 2019

Not my favourite Toews;a little slow -but well written.
A kind of Handmaid’s Tale- a rebellion in a Latin American Gilead.
Sexual assault is ubiquitous- from first world to third world.
And when partnered with the “church” and shaped in the backwoods
It makes the voices of these women alarmingly clear- even in their ambiguity.

2
21221018293347
Feb 21, 2019

Frustrating. The women do too much talking and not enough thinking. I suppose there are still communities in which men rule and women have no voice or personal thoughts. I could not finish this book.

q
Quietday
Dec 19, 2018

3.5 The most difficult aspect about this book for me was not even the events that precipitated the women talking. It's the fact that despite horrendous abuse and injustice, they are on the fence about it.

When you are raised within a strict religious paradigm, you are never taught or granted the freedom to think for yourself. Its it like Orwell's "Animal Farm" where the whole barnyard goes along thinking they have some wonderful plan and yet the pigs are changing all the rules, selfish and corrupt. For example, as these women debate the bible, they realize that since they can't read, they have only followed rules the men told them were biblical and now that they can't trust them, what do they do?

Very thought provoking.

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