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American Housewife: Stories - Helen Ellis

This is a short story collection revolving around the theme of housewives, as the title suggests. Some of these are 30 pages long, others only two but each take the theme and deal with it in a different way.


As with all short story collections there were some I preferred over others. There were some with darkly comic undertones such as The Wainscoting War, a series of an escalating feud over the decorating of a communal area told in email format, or Hello! Welcome to Book Club, a story about a seemingly innocuous ladies book club that as you read seems to become more like Fight Club with a twist.


There are stories that have a sadder side to them, such as The Fitter, a tale of a woman married to man with the gift to change a woman’s outlook on life in an unusual way.


My favourite story from the collection has to be Dumpster Diving with the Stars in which the protagonist starts by questioning her reality whilst being a reality star. Unable to stop comparing herself to others she begins to see that reality is not always as it appears, and that other things matter more than a person’s chosen career path and place in society.


This book examines the role of the woman in the house, and in the wider world. It shows that a woman can have a role as a housewife if that is what she want, and that seeking something outside of the home is valid also. In other words, it celebrates the insecurities woman may feel and gently mocks or encourages society’s views in equal measure.


A great collection to dip in and out of or to read in one session.