Monday, February 29, 2016

Book Review: American Housewife by Helen Ellis

American Housewife: Stories
Meet the women of American Housewife: they wear lipstick, pearls, and sunscreen, even when it's cloudy. They casserole. They pinwheel. They pump the salad spinner like it's a CPR dummy. And then they kill a party crasher, carefully stepping around the body to pull cookies out of the oven. These twelve irresistible stories take us from a haunted prewar Manhattan apartment building to the set of a rigged reality television show, from the unique initiation ritual of a book club to the getaway car of a pageant princess on the lam, from the gallery opening of a tinfoil artist to the fitting room of a legendary lingerie shop. Vicious, fresh, and nutty as a poisoned Goo Goo Cluster, American Housewife is an uproarious, pointed commentary on womanhood.
Writing
So much funnier than what I expected!  I had heard a lot about the literary-worth of this book and was assuming that the stories would be super deep and meaningful, but maybe less than entertaining.  I was thrilled to discover that, in fact, the stories are both.  I laughed out loud more than once, but also felt like I really connected with the author's commentary on being a woman, and especially being a Southern woman.  I want to be clear that it is literary in tone - this isn't another iteration of a GRITS book or the Sweet Potato Queens - but it has an undercurrent of humor that I thought was delightful.

Entertainment Value
Couldn't put it down.  I thought I'd read a story or two each night, but instead read it in its entirety without moving from my spot.  My personal favorites are "Dumpster Diving with the Stars" - a reality TV satire, "Hello! Welcome to Book Club!", and "Southern Lady Code".  That said, there honestly weren't any that I didn't thoroughly enjoy.  This one has earned a permanent spot on my shelf and it's something I'll come back to again.

Overall
I give it a resounding yes.  It's just the right amounts of humor, social commentary, great writing, and thinky parts.  You'll use your brain, but you'll also get a lot of good laughs, and really, what's better than that.

Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with a galley to review.

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