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Women Talking

Written by: Miriam Toews
Narrated by: Matthew Edison
Length: 5 hrs and 57 mins
4 out of 5 stars (257 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A finalist for the Governor General's Literary Award

A transformative and necessary work - as completely unexpected as it is inspired - by the award-winning author of the best-selling novels All My Puny Sorrows and A Complicated Kindness.

The sun rises on a quiet June morning in 2009. August Epp sits alone in the hayloft of a barn, anxiously bent over his notebook. He writes quickly, aware that his solitude will soon be broken. Eight women - ordinary grandmothers, mothers, and teenagers; yet to August, each one extraordinary - will climb the ladder into the loft, and the day's true task will begin. This task will be both simple and subversive: August, like the women, is a traditional Mennonite, and he has been asked to record a secret conversation. 

Thus begins Miriam Toews' spellbinding novel. Gradually, as we hear the women's vivid voices console, tease, admonish, regale, and debate each other, we piece together the reason for the gathering: they have 48 hours to make a life-altering choice on behalf of all the women and children in the colony. And like a vast night sky coming into view behind the bright sparks of their voices, we learn of the devastating events that have led to this moment. 

Acerbic, funny, tender, sorrowful, and wise, Women Talking is composed of equal parts humane love and deep anger. It is award-winning writer Miriam Toews' most astonishing novel to date, containing within its two short days and hayloft setting an expansive, timeless universe of thinking and feeling about women - and men - in our contemporary world.

©2018 Miriam Toews (P)2018 Knopf Canada

What the critics say

  • Finalist for the 2018 Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction

“An exquisite critique of patriarchal culture.... Stunningly original and altogether arresting.” (Kirkus Review, starred review)

“[A] sharp blade of a novel.... Toews’s eviscerating fictionalization of this incendiary reality focuses not on the violence but, rather, on the keen, subversive intelligence of the Mennonite women, their philosophical casts of mind, clashing personalities, and deep concerns about family and faith." (Booklist, starred review)  

“Compelling.... Women Talking is no ordinary book, and even before hitting the shelves it’s got people talking. Some who received advance copies, including Canadian writer Margaret Atwood, have placed it firmly in the camp of feminist books that will become part of a canon that questions the patriarchy.” (Deborah Dundas, Toronto Star)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Story

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

I want more

This book was so good but I wish I could hear this story from the women.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Painful subject, frustrating to listen to..

This is based on a true story about a large group of mennonite women who drugged and raped. The are told by the men the community that they must forgive the rapists and have to make a decision in 48 hours to stay and forgive, or leave. There is a lot of philosophical discussion between an oppressed group of women in a patriarchal religion. The narrator in the story is a man , and I find this makes it very irritating to listen to.
I read for relaxation and enjoyment so this is not a book for me and had to stop listening after 2 hours.

11 of 15 people found this review helpful

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A must read

So well written. Dialogue exquisite. The dialogue really drew me into the sentiment of the characters. I felt a part of the colony while reading and listening the novel. I could readily sense the environment, the landscape, the people, the smells, the structures, the tensions, the voices ... the agony. The dramatization was well done. In a word, I savoured the story and wanted it to continue. Bravo, Miriam , for yet another moving insight into why people behave the way they do.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Wonderful Book

I loved the brave woman in this book who with no knowledge of the world they ventured forth into did so anyway as they placed the safety of their children above their own .

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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loved it!

very touching story showing the strength, passion and intelligence and will of "simple" women living in a repressed society.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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An exceptional, provocative and evocative story .

Remarkable performance of what must become a modern classic. Deep, rich, powerful. Must be read.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

woman oppression raw

would love to know what followed in their lives-
heart wrenching - soul searching to acknowledge that horrors women still have to endure today in our technology advanced world

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Male narrator?

Why is there a dude narrating thing story? 100% creepy and inappropriate. This is very disappointing.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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A wry retelling ...

A wry retelling of horrific events, giving voice to those who were voiceless in a way that sidesteps sentimentality and confronts darkness with light and adept humor. Enjoyable listen.

I do wonder, is it intentional that the women's voices and minutes are relayed by a man? And does this small redemtion, on behalf of mennonite men, transmit another message of hope?

An important addition to modern feminist literature.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Brilliant

Deeply insightful portrayal of conservative Mennonite Colony culture. Eloquently captured characters. Not an action story, not superficial escape reading. Toews is a wonder.

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  • melanie l morton
  • 2018-10-19

short and interesting

I loved how short this story was and that it spanned over just a couple of days. Enjoyable story that gives you a glimpse into a different culture.