A horrific discovery prompts the women of two families to gather in secret and do something unheard of in their isolated, patriarchal community: choose. I read this stunning, disquieting tale — all the more disquieting for its genesis in real events — with my heart in my throat. Recommended By Tove H., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
Based on real events, Women Talking is the story of eight women in a remote Mennonite colony who face an agonizing decision in the aftermath of a series of unspeakable sexual crimes.
Eight Mennonite women climb into a hay loft to conduct a secret meeting. For the past two years, each of these women, and over a hundred other girls in their colony, has been repeatedly violated in the night by demons coming to punish them for their sins. Now that the women have learned they were in fact drugged and attacked by a group of men from their own community, they are determined to protect themselves and their daughters from future harm.
While the men of the colony are off in the city, attempting to raise enough money to bail out the rapists and bring them home, these women — all illiterate, without any knowledge of the world outside their community and unable even to speak the language of the country they live in — have very little time to make a choice: Should they stay in the only world they've ever known or should they dare to escape?
Told through the "minutes" of the women's all-female symposium, Toews's masterful novel uses wry, politically engaged humor to relate this tale of a community wrestling with its own foundational myths. For readers of Lidia Yuknavitch's The Book of Joan and Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, Women Talking examines the consequences of religious fundamentalism and communal isolation, and it celebrates the strength of women claiming their own power to decide.
“Miriam Toews’s Women Talking is a flawless, ferocious work of art. I have yet to read a more scathing indictment of patriarchal violence, or a more illuminating quest to comprehend the most vital contours of the human experience: what is agency, what is meaning, what is justice, what is love. This is the kind of novel that changes you. Get ready.” Laura van den Berg, author of The Third Hotel
“Women Talking is an astonishment, a volcano of a novel with slowly and furiously mounting pressures of anguish and love and rage. No other book I've read in the past year has spoken so lucidly about our current moment, and yet none has felt as timeless; the always – wondrous Miriam Toews has written a book as close to a Greek tragedy as a contemporary Western novelist can come.” Lauren Groff, author or Fates and Furies and Florida
“Don’t miss this one! This amazing, sad, shocking, but touching novel, based on a real-life event, could be right out of The Handmaid’s Tale.” Margaret Atwood on Twitter
About the Author
Miriam Toews is the author of six previous bestselling novels: All My Puny Sorrows, Summer of My Amazing Luck, A Boy of Good Breeding, A Complicated Kindness, The Flying Troutmans, and Irma Voth, and one work of nonfiction, Swing Low: A Life. She is winner of the Governor General’s Award for Fiction, the Libris Award for Fiction Book of the Year, the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, and the Writers’ Trust Engel/Findley Award. She lives in Toronto.