American Housewife by Helen Ellis (Book Review)

american housewife

American Housewife: Stories by Helen Ellis is a collection of tales sure to make you cringe, smirk and the laugh out loud. From a reading club that offers new members the perks of belonging at the cost of renting out their wombs to a new apartment co-op neighbor whose descent into madness is as absurd as it is bloody. These American Housewives are sharp and vicious and unwilling to accept their predetermined roles in marriage and society at large.

“…I hop in the shower and assure myself that behind every good woman is a little back fat…”

There are a dozen delightful tales int his book. A dozen beautiful and intelligent women who will not leave your mind, heart, or peripheral vision anytime soon. This collection of Southern women will amaze you with their thoughts and their lives and getting through the day to day doldrums of their existence, which can sometimes be far more exciting than anyone might imagine.

“…He chuckles what I’m guessing is his marriage chuckle. All we marrieds have a marriage chuckle. A marriage chuckle is a fake laugh you bring out when your spouse does something dumb that you have to pretend is charming…”

Or how about this?

“…My husband’s a ref with the WNBA. He’s on the road, surrounded by oak trees with tits. For me to impress him, I’ll have to sink a ball from half court…”

Helen Ellis, in an over the top and satirical manner, makes acute observations of the American Housewife. The struggle to belong and protect that which is your domain. The men in this book are for the most part non-existent. A passing mention as the Housewives face the challenges of their lives and find ways to rise above them. Often with funny and bloody results. Killing a party crasher but not letting that get in the way of the cookies that need to be served. Winning the re-decorating battle with an old cranky neighbor at the cost of your own sanity and marriage.

The women in this book are passionate and more than a little mad. Priorities that seem more than a little off kilter.

This is a novel that belongs to a crazier and wittier time. But one that should be appreciated all the same with an author whose sharp tongued voice needs to be followed.

A really fun read.


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