Review | American Housewife by Helen Ellis

Posted February 19, 2016 by Asheley in review, Uncategorized / 1 Comment

American Housewife by Helen Ellis
Published by Doubleday
Publish Date: January 12, 2016

Source: Publisher
Find It: Goodreads / Amazon 

A sharp, funny, delightfully unhinged collection of stories set in the dark world of domesticity, American Housewife features murderous ladies who lunch, celebrity treasure hunters, and the best bra fitter south of the Mason Dixon line.

Meet the women of American Housewife: they wear lipstick, pearls, and sunscreen, even when it’s cloudy. They casserole. They pinwheel. They pump the salad spinner like it’s a CPR dummy. And then they kill a party crasher, carefully stepping around the body to pull cookies out of the oven. These twelve irresistible stories take us from a haunted prewar Manhattan apartment building to the set of a rigged reality television show, from the unique initiation ritual of a book club to the getaway car of a pageant princess on the lam, from the gallery opening of a tinfoil artist to the fitting room of a legendary lingerie shop. Vicious, fresh, and nutty as a poisoned Goo Goo Cluster, American Housewife is an uproarious, pointed commentary on womanhood.  (Goodreads)

American Housewife by Helen Ellis 

My Thoughts:  I was drawn to this cover like a moth to a flame.

Sometimes I feel like I am this woman on the cover; the more I look at this picture, the more I love it. Sidenote: I stay at home to raise my family + am Southern, and I am quite sure that this author has crafted this book as if it could have been of my own soul. 

Inspired by Beyonce, I stallion-walk to the toaster.  –loc. 57, ARC

This is the first line from the What I Do All Day, which is the first short story in this collection. I was sitting in an airport when I read this and burst out laughing so loudly that I attracted more attention than I should be comfortable with in an airport. From stallion-walking to a toaster, Ms. Ellis goes on to describe the mundane hilarity of grocery-shopping, crafting, cooking, and a ton of other things which such snark (and truth) that I reread that particular story twice before moving on with the collection. 

I break into a sweat when I find a Sharpie cap, but not the pen.  -loc. 57, ARC

I shred cheese. I berate a pickle jar. I pump the salad spinner like a CPR dummy. I strangle defrosted spinach and soak things in branch. I casserole. I pinwheel. I toothpick. I bacon. I iron a tablecloth and think about eating lint from the dryer, but then think better or that because I am sane. I rearrange furniture like a Neanderthal. I mayonnaise water rings. I level picture frames.  -loc, 62, ARC

This isn’t my exact life. This isn’t the life of an American “housewife” exactly. At least not every single day. None of the stories in this book illustrate exactly such a life. But even though these stories are just a little but on the hilarious side, the crazy side, and even the dark side – I can assure you that I can see myself in these characters. 

I’m not sure that is always the best thing, but doggone it, I LOVE IT. 

These women are trying to maintain their mystery, their glamour, their sanity but most of them feel like they may have lost it or may be losing it or may never have been any of those things to begin with. These are strong women, but some of them are a little on the nutty side, and others may be heroic. 

I love this collection. It made me laugh. Some of the stories read almost list-like. My favorites were What I Do All Day, Southern Lady Code, and How To Be A Grown-Ass Lady. These made me feel like someone else out there is speaking my language and that someone else out there thinks like I do. The narrative stories were a little out there – some were a little dark and twisted with their hilarity – and I was cracking up. Favorites were The Wainscoting War and Dumpster Diving With The Stars. 

This isn’t a collection that berates being a “housewife” or homemaking. These women are working hard, and in more than one of the stories, the women have paying jobs. These women are all types of women, in all types of situations. This is more of a celebration of women and their roles and their stories, and it is done in a smart and snarky and darkly sophisticated way. 

This is a collection that I read slowly over several days. I read one story at the time, pulling this book out when I wanted something short and fun to read. I think that’s the best way to digest this book. In my opinion, trying to breeze through this one would be like selling each story short.


American Housewife will appeal to fans of:

Women’s Fiction
Short Stories

American Housewife by Helen Ellis

is currently available for purchase. 


Check out these titles by Helen Ellis: 



About Asheley

Asheley is a Southern girl. She loves Carolina blue skies, Ben & Jerry's ice cream, and NC craft beer. She loves all things history but prefers books over everything.

You can find her somewhere in North Carolina, daydreaming about the ocean.

Find Asheley on Litsy @intothehallofbooks!


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