Aspen Times Weekly book review: ‘American Housewife’ |

Aspen Times Weekly book review: ‘American Housewife’

by Christina Ledbetter for THE ASSOCIATED Press

This book cover image released by Doubleday shows "American Housewife," by Helen Ellis. (Doubleday via AP)
AP | Doubleday


“American Housewife: Stories”

Helen Ellis

208 pages, hardcover, $16.30

Doubleday, 2016

An organized kidnapping mission rescues beauty-pageant escapees. A neighborly feud draws blood. A dying wife secures a brassiere around the chest of her opponent. In her collection of short stories highlighting the women who manage (and at times destroy) the home fronts, author Helen Ellis takes readers into the unexpected corners of wifedom in “American Housewife.” The 12 compact tales are delightfully dark and leave readers always rooting for the housewife, no matter how twisted her plots.

From a reality show to a getaway car to a Manhattan penthouse, each setting provides a unique space in which these women can truly shine and scheme. While most of the stories will make you laugh, others will make you cackle while double-checking your locks. Sprinkled in the mix are a few handy how-tos, like how to unlock Southern lady code (hint: nice equals boring).

Ellis expertly toys with varied points of view. One piece unfolds from the perspective of a struggling writer, and by struggling we mean held hostage, and another from the viewpoint of a crafty book-club member with some nasty intentions up her tailored sleeve. Need some advice from a cat? Again, you’re in luck. With punchy writing and unique conundrums, “American Housewife” can be devoured in a sitting. Resist. The tales are best consumed like the pinot grigio some of these housewives enjoy — daily.

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