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Women Talking | Miriam Toews | 2019, 216 pages | Fiction
Between 2005 and 2009, women and girls in Manitoba Colony, a remote Mennonite colony in Bolivia, would wake in the morning feeling drowsy and in pain, bruised and bleeding, having been attacked in the night. These attacks were attributed to ghosts and demons. Some members of the colony thought the suffering was brought on as punishment for the women’s sins; many accused the women of lying; others believed everything was the result of wild female imagination. Eventually, it was revealed that eight men from the colony had been drugging and raping the women. Women Talking is a fictional reaction to these real-life events.
In the aftermath of these attacks, the remaining men of the colony go into the city to post bail for the imprisoned attackers. When these perpetrators return, the women will be given a chance to forgive these men, thus securing everyone’s place in heaven. If the women don’t forgive the men, the women will have to leave the colony for the outside world, of which they know nothing.
Meetings are organized hastily by the women in order to reach a decision – they only have two days to do so. There are only three options on the ballot: will they do nothing, stay and fight, or leave?
Fans of The Handmaid’s Tale will appreciate this novel’s striking theme of women’s empowerment, especially in the face of hardship.
Ashley Miller, Library Technician