Type of Book: Novel
Author: Margaret Dilloway
How to be an American Housewife.
Berkley Publishing Group.
Why I picked up this book: I had come across some bits and pieces of this book and the way the story was told which intrigued me. I also enjoy stores written about that era and have an interest of fiction novels that include some actual history and the way things were.
I ended up being delighted about the novel. It was a fantastic read and well written. I enjoyed the way the author didn’t get real politically correct nor put in too much history filler, however brought the story to a fullness that left no details undone.
The book also ended up falling into my category of mother-daughter relationships, not only between two generations but also of the next. An added bonus for me.
The opening of each chapter includes old inserts of a book the lead character “learned” how to be a housewife from that was entertaining, funny…and in a way also sad. Fiction as it may be, this life existed.
The talk of lack of friends, fitting in, and embarrassed children, the shunning of other housewives, would make me cry.
Laughter and crying, empathy….a novel should bring these. This novel brought these.
My favorite line in the book was “I was disobedient, not foolish.”
My favorite chapter opening of the book that the lead character “learned” from was:
“An important criterion in choosing your American mate is his blood type. Military men often wear identifying necklaces, “Dog tags,” which bear the blood type. Learn the English letters and recognize them.
AB-The worst kind. They do whatever they want whenever they want. They make horrible husbands.
A- They are reliable and calm.
O- They are social but sometimes need more pushing to finish what they start.
B- Very practical, but dull.
O goes best with other O’s ad AB’s.
A can marry A or AB.
B can marry B or AB.
AB can marry anyone who will let them.”
This page by the author really had me laughing…funny and not funny at the same time. But has also made for good conversation pieces in crowds.
I of course, proceeded to find out what J’s blood type was (I could not remember, just like I forgot our anniversary today.)
The title of this book did cause him to ask me if I had marriage on my mind or was trying to tell him something. To which I replied something about lining books up for him to learn from.
Knowing some non-fiction element to this fiction novel in what it is based off of makes it interesting. A peek inside someone else’s home.
It is also not a “good” history of Japanese-American marriages, but a side and view to a real one….sometimes that’s what any marriage is and the suburban marriages of that day and age is shown very well around the dining table of this family, in this home, in this book.
I admire the author for for her abity in bringing forth a “real” suburban family in this book, from start to finish. The parents being not exciting but living life, putting bread on the table…not all romance and drama. The children grown up, a spot of view of children born many years apart. The son having mental issues of some kind…being a little different. Being fifty and still living at home and holding down a minimum wage job, unmarried. The daughter divorced and single mother stuck in a safe and solid dead end job. Just real. Not fancy.
I wonder what the opinions of older women, once young American housewives themselves during that time and age, think when reading this now.
The author has a bog on her website http://www.margaretdilloway.com called American Housewife. And this is a debut novel (I seem to be falling into that a lot these days) which is writing so happily well done I never would have known it. Please add this to your beach bag this summer.