American Housewife

Helen Ellis. Doubleday, $23 (208p) ISBN 978-0-385-54103-9
Ellis, a professional poker player and author (Eating the Cheshire Cat), turns domesticity on its head in her darkly funny 12-story collection, featuring hausfraus in various stages of unraveling. These wives are not like the perfect 1970s-mom Carol Brady, the blue-collar Roseanne Conner, or even the tightly wound Claire Dunphy. Ellis immediately sets the tone in “What I Do All Day,” about a modern Stepford Wife—she is “lucky enough to have a drawer just for glitter”—with bite. In the rest of the collection, women become involved in increasingly hostile epistolary e-fights over wainscoting in a shared hallway (“The Wainscoting War”), speak in codes that require translation (“Southern Lady Code”), and take their book club to a whole new level (“Hello! Welcome to Book Club”). One wife finds a fiendish way to contend with a domineering mother-in-law and the son she raised (“Dead Doormen”); another finds that having a significant following on social media doesn’t save her from her book sponsor’s ruthlessness in actually getting the thing written (“My Book Is Brought to You by the Good People at Tampax”). Ellis hits the satirical bull’s-eye with a deliciously dry, smart voice that will have readers flipping the pages in delight. Agent: Susanna Einstein, Einstein Literary Management. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 10/12/2015
Release date: 01/12/2016
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 208 pages - 978-1-101-97099-7
Hardcover - 208 pages - 978-1-4711-5379-2
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-4711-4674-9
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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