Saturday, May 28, 2016

Women's Lit Review: Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons by Lorna Landvik

Links to Amazon.com

Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons
by Lorna Landvik

Description:
The wise and funny national bestseller about four decades of laughter, heartache, and friendship in the lives of five small-town women--members of AHEB (Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons), an unofficial club that becomes much more.

My Review:
I read this book about a book club under the utmost sense of irony. I couldn’t help it. Why? Because I was reading it for a book club. I kept getting distracted by all the books the women in the book were choosing and fighting the urge to write them down for later. What can I say?

Anyhow, as for what I thought? It’s a pretty good, bordering on great book following the lives of five women whose common connection is their book club, Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons. I think the story did a good job of tackling a variety of issues, life challenges, tragedies and triumphs spanning three decades. It’s really five different stories, but all tangled together.

Really, the only common thread in the telling of it is Faith and her letters to her mama. Other than that, everything is in first person, and the person telling the story changes. I both enjoyed this and found it difficult. It was difficult because sometimes the person changes multiple times in a chapter. Usually it’s a clean transition with a very clear indication of who’s speaking, but sometimes it isn’t.

So overall, I thought this was good, particularly keying in on things folks in book clubs, particularly women, would enjoy. There’s plenty of stuff to talk about, and the cast of characters is such that everyone’s likely to recognize someone they know in one of them.

I borrowed this book from the library to read it for my book club. Funny thing is, I know I can’t even make it to that meeting.

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So you may be asking, what did the Angry Housewives read? Good news, I couldn't resist writing them down after all. Here you go:

1968-1970
Hotel by Arthur Hailey
Soul on Ice by Eldridge Cleaver
Middlemarch by George Eliot
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
Main Street by Sinclair Lewis
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion
The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather
Dr. Faustus by Thomas Mann

1970s
The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe
Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask by Dr. David Reuben
Fear of Flying by Erica Jong
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
The Total Woman by Marabel Morgan
Roots by Alex Haley
The Grass is Always Greener over the Septic Tank by Erma Bombeck
Tobacco Road by Erskine Caldwell
Terms of Endearment by Larry McMurtry
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

1980s
My Home is Far Away by Dawn Powell
In the Spirit of Crazy Horse by Peter Matthiessen
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
Out on a Limb by Shirley MacLaine
The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler
West with the Night by Beryl Markham
The Fountain Overflows by Rebecca West
The Awakening by Kate Chopin

1990s
Handling Sin by Michael Malone
The Stand by Stephen King
My Antonia by Willa Cather
A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
The Beginning and the End by Naguib Mahfouz
Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset
Ladder of Years by Anne Tyler
Eastward Ha! by S.J. Perelman
Love in the Ruins by Walker Percy

And that's all of the ones that headed chapters. A few others were mentioned in the body of the story, but I really do have to get this book back to the library today so these are it.

As for how these are covered in the book, they head each chapter, including which character picked them and why. Some of the chapters cover the discussions of the books, but some don't or just do in passing. It's really just treated like the common thing that brings the women together and also to highlight the different personalities. For example, the ones picked by Slip were often banned or likely to be banned or otherwise political or controversial. Anyhow, I enjoyed these little snippets and thought this made a pretty good list of potential books to read. I'd only heard of a fraction of these titles and authors.

So, have you read any of these? What do you think?