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Women Talking (2018)

af Miriam Toews

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
1,3326113,913 (3.79)139
One evening, eight Mennonite women climb into a hay loft to conduct a secret meeting. For the past two years, each of these women, and more than 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? Based on real events and 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 women claiming their own power to decide.… (mere)
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Engelsk (59)  Catalansk (1)  Spansk (1)  Alle sprog (61)
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The story opens after women and children have been raped during the night for several years by a group of the men in this Mennonite community. The women are talking in a hay loft to decide whether they should stay and fight for their rights in this community or leave. Most of the men are gone into town trying to bail the sexual predators out of jail.
  baughga | Feb 19, 2024 |
Women Talking is inspired from the tragic story of the abuse suffered by women of a socially isolated Mennonite colony in Bolivia. It is an imagination of the discussion that some of the victims may have had about their future after their abusers were arrested and all the men of the colony had accompanied them to post their bail, leaving women, the victims, alone.

Women Talking is a heavily dialogue-driven novel, yet it doesn't overwhelm the reader at any point. The story focuses on 8 women representing 2 different families discussing a matter of great importance, and the flow of their conversation perfectly balances the revelation of each character's personality, their stance on the matter, their feelings towards their colony, and their unique traits. Much of the information about the colony and its residents is revealed through the dialogue between the women, while the remaining contextual gaps are filled by the narrator of the story, who has been tasked with taking the minutes of the meeting.

Women Talking discusses how different the idea of freedom is for every individual, and how it is truly shaped by one's experiences. It also acts as an inspiration for lazy people like this reviewer, to arrive at decisions and to act on those decisions as quickly as possible. The prose takes a 180 degree turn as the book reaches for a conclusion from the narrator's POV, which takes some effort to grasp, considering how smooth the rest of the reading experience is, but it perfectly encapsulates the dreamy state of the narrator as he looks to find meaning in his own life by drawing inspiration from the book's events. All in all, Women Talking is a great example of world building purely through dialogue, and doesn't let the reader zone out at any point. ( )
  shadabejaz | Jan 30, 2024 |
Women Talking, Miriam Toews, author, Mathew Edison, narrator
This novel is based on a real-life story about the abuse of women. It occurred between 2005-2009, and there are some that believe the abuse might still be occurring. It took place in the small Mennonite Molotshna community, in a remote area of Bolivia. The members of the community do not know how to read or write. This novel expands the story about the women, the attacks on them, and their eventual response to it. Almost every woman and child in that community had suffered at the hands of a man in the community. When the women realized that although they had been told they were attacked by ghosts and spirits, or were being punished for their bad behavior, they had really been drugged by an anesthetic used on animals, and then brutalized and raped, some sought vengeance. After one of the rapists was attacked and another murdered, the men responsible were arrested and taken away for their own safety.
The women were given two days to vote, by signing an “X” beneath a descriptive picture. They had three choices. They may leave the community, stay and fight, or forgive the men and continue to be subjected to their power over them. Forgiveness and passivity are cornerstones of their religion. The women believed if they left the community and were excommunicated, they would not go to heaven.
Unable to read or write, how would they survive? A small group, pretending to be sewing quilts, met secretly in the hayloft of a member of the community. They discussed their options. August Epp, the newly hired boy’s teacher, is asked by Ona to take the minutes of their meetings. He is the voice of their story. When he was 12 years-old, his own parents had been excommunicated. He understands the problems they are facing. Fragile and emotional, he is a man who was ridiculed by other men. However, he is in love with Ona, his childhood friend. She is now pregnant, a victim of the nighttime rapes.
As the women spoke, the crimes against them were revealed, their suffering and the painful consequences of the abuse was revealed, in different ways, by each of them, with the physical and mental after effects. Still, they must unite and make a decision to stay or leave the community and go off into an unknown future. They had grappled with the idea of remaining helpless or of trying to find freedom. They talked about equal opportunity, protecting their children, sexism, chauvinism, misogyny, abortion, rape, faith, freedom and what constitutes it, forgiveness vs vengeance, passivism vs violence, family dynamics, the very existence of G-d, of hope and survival. Would they survive? ( )
  thewanderingjew | Jan 22, 2024 |
A surprisingly taut book all about women talking- but not just any women, and not just any talking. These women, living in a remote Mennonite community, have had their men dosing them with anesthetic and raping them while they are asleep. The men don’t stick to adults either, and one of the women talking has had her 3 year old daughter savaged.
The women are talking to decide what to do-to leave, to stay and fight, to stay and submit. None of them can read; none have been outside the town.
Time is tight- the men have gone to town to bail out the perpetrators to allow them to return to the community while they await trial. But it will take huge change to allow the women to set themselves free.
The discussions are long and get somewhat exasperating for the reader, but the passage of time and the heightening of risk keeps us glued to the page.
There’s humour and kindness, bravery and anger, the usual fights among people who share tight quarters, and the grace they obtain through their faith. Fascinating dynamics. A thought-provoking read.
No scenes of assault are described though the after effects are discussed.
( )
  Dabble58 | Nov 11, 2023 |
A poignant, reflective and profoundly inspiring read on the patriarchy and the power of resistance, community and love. For such a short book, it takes its time but is definitely worth it to spend as much time as possible with this memorable cast of characters. The audiobook narrator was fantastic, well worth listening to! ( )
  bookforthought | Nov 7, 2023 |
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My name is August Epp -- irrelevant for all purposes, other than that I've been appointed the minute-taker for the women's meetings because the women are illiterate and unable to do it themselves.
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She went on to say that, in her opinion, doubt and uncertainty and questioning are inextricably bound together with faith.
Salome doesn't know about the straw in her hair. It sits above her ear, nestled in that space, like a librarian's No. 2 pencil.
I wanted to run after Autje and apologize for scaring her—but that would have scared her even more. Or perhaps my words are as ridiculous to her as they are to me, which is comforting only a little.
Pacifism, Agata says, is good. Any violence is unjustifiable. By staying in Molotschna, she says, we women would be betraying the central tenet of the Mennonite faith, which is pacifism, because by staying we would knowingly be placing ourselves in a direct collision course with violence, perpetrated by us or against us. We would be inviting harm. We would be in a state of war. We would turn Molotschna into a battlefield.
Salome continues to yell, her voice hoarse. Mariche, are you not afraid that your own sweet Julius will become a monster like his father because you do nothing to protect him, nothing to educate him, nothing to teach him the criminality of his father's ways, the depravity...
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One evening, eight Mennonite women climb into a hay loft to conduct a secret meeting. For the past two years, each of these women, and more than 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? Based on real events and 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 women claiming their own power to decide.

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