Audiobook Review: American Housewife Stories by Helen Ellis


 I grab almost every audio available to me and prefer to go in blind when I can. Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn’t and I end up with nightmares (I’m pointing at you, Daddy Love by Joyce Carol Oates).  When I started American Housewife I had some vague memory of someone somewhere saying it was a memoir and I started reading it with glee because these people were horrid and I love nothing more than reading about horrible, snooty people doing horrible things to each other once (and, if true, all the better!) but alas my brain failed me once again.  I soon realized it’s actually a fictional collection of short stories, vignettes and “lessons” – mostly sarcastic lessons on how to be a proper southern lady. Lessons I obviously have no use for!  None of them are true stories either. Ah well.
              3 1/2 Stars 

I’m not going to rehash all of the stories and such with a plot synopsis because I am lazy and mostly because I did not take notes. So off the top of my head, I’ll tell you a little about the stories that stuck with me long enough to be written down here.

“The Wainscotting War” was the first real short story in the collection and I thought it was the best. It should’ve been stuck somewhere in the middle because I kept expecting the rest of the tales to have the same snarky magic and, except for brief glimpses, they didn’t. It’s about two housewives who go to great lengths to out insult the other in an email war over redecorating a hallway. It’s wickedly dark and funny in the evilest of ways and I LOVED it.  

“The Fitter” is about a woman who is married to the most wanted man in all the land. Wanted by the woman-folk, that is. He can look at a woman’s chest and instantly find her the perfect bra, one able to perk up the saddest pair of droopy breasts without surgery. He’s been able to do this since he was a kid which is kind of creepy, if you ask me, but he’s managed to make quite the living off of his magical skills, yet another reason the ladies are all after him. His current wife, also his assistant in the business, has to fend off the hussies vying for his attention. I felt for her, I truly did. It was a little sad but I’m not going to tell you why (unless you send me some chocolate).

“Welcome to Book Club” mostly annoyed me, truth be told. I thought it was trying just a little too hard to be witty and obnoxious and mostly succeeded in just being obnoxious. To be a part of this exclusive “book club” means you must give up your identity and . . . other things. The narration was good but the story didn’t work out for me.

 “Dead Doormen” was ghostly, morbid and a little ghastly. That I can work with.

“Dumpster Diving with the Stars” nearly bored me to death.  It was about some ridiculous reality tv show. It was overly long and not at all interesting or witty to me. Not helping matters was the monotonous narrator. I never thought it would end but fortunately it did.

Did I mention the stories are read by alternating narrators? That’s a very good thing in this case.

“Pageant Protection” is a twisted little story about a woman who makes it her mission to give pageant girls a lifestyle “do-over”.

“I Sold My Soul to Tampax” is the last story and I don’t think this is the title but it’ll have to do. My brain has shut down for the day. It’s about a writer who apparently didn’t read the fine print on her contract and faces what is probably every writer’s worst nightmare. It was pretty much all over the place and felt a little rushed and the protagonist seemed like a dimwit for allowing any of this to happen at all.

Most of the stories fall into the “entertaining at some point” category with only one that really stood out which is unfortunate seeing as it was the first actual story in the book and set me up to expect the rest to be even better. The others weren’t as nasty as I’d hoped and weren’t really “laugh out loud funny” but perhaps my sense of humor has skedaddled off with what’s left of my memory. If you want to read about a bunch of awful ladies that have ugly thoughts, dark edges and haughty ways give it a go. You probably won’t like any of these people but you might like reading about them.

If nothing else, I learned that:

 “Taxidermy is the new decoupage. “

 photo taxidermy is handy_zps6dpmsq6d.gif

Who knew? Perhaps, I’ll have to take it up in my old age. Looks like it could be useful!

Get it at Amazon

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