51 pages 1 hour read

Miriam Toews

Women Talking

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2018

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Author’s NoteChapter Summaries & Analyses

Author’s Note Summary: “A Note on the Novel”

Content Warning: This section of the guide includes discussions and depictions of domestic and sexual violence, rape, and suicidal ideation.

Toews recounts the historical events that occurred between 2005 and 2009 in the Manitoba Mennonite colony, located in a remote area of Bolivia. During those years, many girls and women woke up groggy, bloodied, bruised, and in pain. They had been attacked during the night, and when they reported it, they were told they were attacked by ghosts and demons, or that God or Satan was punishing them for their sins. Some men accused the victims of using the reports to cover up adulterous behavior, and others accused the women of making everything up, saying that the stories were “the result of wild female imagination” (xi).

It was finally revealed that eight men from the colony were using animal tranquilizers to knock the women out and rape them. The men were arrested, tried, and convicted in 2011, receiving long prison sentences. However, even after the men were locked away, the assaults continued.

The book Women Talking is “both a reaction through fiction to these true-life events, and an act of female imagination” (xi).