American Housewife by Helen Ellis – review

Published by Schribner

Publication date – 9 Februrary 2017

Source – gift

Meet the women of American Housewife…
They smoke their eyes and paint their lips. They channel Beyoncé while doing household chores. They drown their sorrows with Chanel No. 5 and host book clubs where chardonnay trumps Charles Dickens. They redecorate. And they are quietly capable of kidnapping, breaking and entering, and murder.
These women know the rules of a well-lived life: replace your tights every winter, listen to erotic audio books while you scrub the bathroom floor, serve what you want to eat at your dinner parties, and accept it: you’re too old to have more than one drink and sleep through the night.
Vicious, fresh and darkly hilarious, American Housewife is a collection of stories for anyone who has ever wondered what really goes on behind the façades of the housewives of America…

This is a short story collection revolving around the theme of housewives, as the title suggests. Some of these are 30 pages long, others only two but each take the theme and deal with it in a different way.

As with all short story collections there were some I preferred over others. There were some with darkly comic undertones such as The Wainscoting War, a series of an escalating feud over the decorating of a communal area told in email format, or Hello! Welcome to Book Club, a story about a seemingly innocuous ladies book club that as you read seems to become more like Fight Club with a twist.

There are stories that have a sadder side to them, such as The Fitter, a tale of a woman married to man with the gift to change a woman’s outlook on life in an unusual way.

My favourite story from the collection has to be Dumpster Diving with the Stars in which the protagonist starts by questioning her reality whilst being a reality star. Unable to stop comparing herself to others she begins to see that reality is not always as it appears, and that other things matter more than a person’s chosen career path and place in society.

This book examines the role of the woman in the house, and in the wider world. It shows that a woman can have a role as a housewife if that is what she want, and that seeking something outside of the home is valid also. In other words, it celebrates the insecurities woman may feel and gently mocks or encourages society’s views in equal measure.

A great collection to dip in and out of or to read in one session.

About the author:

Helen Ellis is the acclaimed author of Eating the Cheshire Cat and American Housewife. She is a poker player who competes on the national tournament circuit. Raised in Alabama, she lives with her husband in New York City.

This was book one in my #20BooksofSummer challenge.

7 Comments Add yours

  1. Well done on getting off to a flying start and with what sounds like a life-affirming collection 😊


    1. janetemson says:

      It was a good one to start with I think. I’ve to choose book four though I think I might be running out of steam 🙂


  2. I do like the sound of this one, and what a brilliant jacket.


    1. janetemson says:

      I think you’d like it. Let me know if you want me to send you my copy. Someone gave it to me but I’m sure they won’t mind me passing it on 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s so kind, Janet, but I bought one yesterday. Thanks so much for the offer, though.


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