cover image The Passion of the Hausfrau: Motherhood, Illuminated

The Passion of the Hausfrau: Motherhood, Illuminated

Nicole Chaison, . . Villard, $19.95 (236pp) ISBN 978-0-345-50795-2

In a book that bills itself as both illuminated manuscript and hero's journey, we see a writer/mother whose craft has slipped away from her as her two children have taken over her life. The story is written in prose with black and white drawings accompanying the text, and it grew out of Chaison's zine, Hausfrau Muthuh-zine The author tells her tale with high-spirited energy, drawing on multiple sources in order to portray her journey through motherhood and back into writing. This is no dreary maternal tale; it's a journey every bit as adventurous, thrilling and pitfall-laden as any male hero's. Faithful to her influences, Chaison's chapter headings include quotes from Joseph Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces , while each page of text is bordered by cartoon illustrations with dialogue. This technique is enjoyable but suffers when the illustrations serve not, in fact, to illuminate the text but merely to repeat it. While fitting to the subject of motherhood, this style's run-on sentences, footnotes and constant references to books, films and pop culture icons can weigh down the story, while the constant stream of self-deprecation and cutesy language sometimes undercuts the wonderful foundation of motherhood as hero's journey. (June)