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Review: Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress

March 31, 2009


Susan Jane Gilman was raised in Upper West Manhattan in the 1970’s, before it became gentrified.   Her family was pretty laid back and “groovy” – her grandmother claimed to be a Communist and her mother signed the whole family up for Transcendental Meditation.   Throughout it all, Susie retained an active imagination and developed a sense of humor.  Her family motto was, “Reality is for people with no imagination.”  Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress:  Tales of Growing Up Groovy and Clueless by Susan Jane Gilman is her memoir.  It starts in her pre-school years and ends when she moved to Geneva shortly after her marriage.

Some of her stories are hilarious – she was tired of her ordinary name, so she convinced her kindergarten teacher that she was changing her name to Sapphire.  Her mother signed the whole family up to learn Transcendental Meditation, and her biggest concern was that she might run into a boy she had a crush on who happened to live  in the same building as the TM Center.  When she wrote an article about gay Rabbis, everyone assumed she was a lesbian and she had to figure out a way to “come out of the closet.”

Parts of the book were touching.  Susan was assigned to go to Poland to write an article on the March of the Living – an event where three thousand Jewish teen-agers met in Poland to learn about the Holocaust.  Her parents broke up when her brother was in college and she felt her family suffered from a “temporary psychosis that plagued every other divorcing family in America.”

I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  I laughed out loud quite a few times.  After reading this book, I feel like I could sit and talk to Susan Jane Gilman for hours – she’s so interesting and funny!  She will be featured on Blog Talk Radio tomorrow, April 1, at 1PM Eastern Time.

31 Comments leave one →
  1. March 31, 2009 5:57 am

    Sounds like a good, light read. Love the cover, it’s so cute 🙂

    Kathy, I have an award for you on my site (you probably already have many of these) 🙂

  2. March 31, 2009 6:33 am

    I don’t usually care for memoirs, but this one sounds like it would be fun to read. I’ll look for it.

  3. March 31, 2009 7:02 am

    I enjoy some memoirs, and this sounds like one that I should try, especially when I am looking for something to read with a good dose of humor.

  4. March 31, 2009 8:00 am

    This sounds really good.

  5. March 31, 2009 8:15 am

    Can’t wait to get my copy of this! Love the cover.

  6. March 31, 2009 8:49 am

    I had forgotten I read this a few years ago until I saw it on your Goodreads. I did think Susan was funny, but she is a little too liberal for my taste. 🙂

  7. March 31, 2009 9:15 am

    I have always loved the cover of this book. I’ll have to add to my list.

  8. March 31, 2009 9:32 am

    I loved this book; the essay on wedding dresses was my favorite. The whole book, actually, helped start me thinking about feminism and myself in a whole new way, which was very cool. I’m glad you liked it!

  9. March 31, 2009 9:41 am

    I have heard a lot about this book! Now I really want to read it. Thanks for mentioning the Blog Talk Radio show, I’ll have to check it out.

  10. March 31, 2009 10:51 am

    Sounds like a great combination of humorous and touching writing! I actually went on the March of the Living 6 years ago, so I’m especially interested in reading that chapter. Great review!

  11. March 31, 2009 11:06 am

    Nice review Kathy. This sounds like a good, fun read.

  12. March 31, 2009 12:10 pm

    Don’t you just love books that make you laugh out loud? This one sounds like a time period I can identify with.

  13. stacybuckeye permalink
    March 31, 2009 12:19 pm

    I LOVE the family motto 🙂

  14. March 31, 2009 12:29 pm

    This does sound like a charming book!

  15. March 31, 2009 12:46 pm

    I have a friend who loves memoirs like this. I will recommend it to her! Maybe she’ll buy it and I can borrow it. 😉

  16. March 31, 2009 12:49 pm

    It’s funny because as I was reading your review, I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop (so to speak). I think it’s because you said “Some of her stories are hilarious” and “Parts of the book were touching,” so I was expecting you to say something negative about the rest of the book, for some reason! Don’t mind me, it sounds like a great book!

  17. March 31, 2009 1:28 pm

    This sounds hilarious. I hope to read it soon. Great review.

  18. March 31, 2009 2:55 pm

    The cover made me giggle; your review made me think this is a memoir worth reading.

  19. March 31, 2009 3:08 pm

    Kathy, this sounds a lot like The Summer of Naked Swim Parties by Jessica Anya Blau. It’s a semi-biographical tale about a teenage girl who is mortified by her parents’ swim parties. It also had a nice mix of touching (not that kind of touching) and funny episodes.

  20. March 31, 2009 3:37 pm

    I loved this book and reviewed it as well. Now that you’ve read both Undress Me and Hypocrite, which book did you like better?

  21. March 31, 2009 4:13 pm

    Oh great, Kath, I’ll enjoy listening to her on the radio!

  22. March 31, 2009 4:44 pm

    I’ve got this one on the way to me. Thanks for the review.

  23. alirambles permalink
    March 31, 2009 8:59 pm

    I’ll see if I can get a chance to listen to the radio show tomorrow. She is an interesting woman with lots of stories to tell. If I like Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven I’ll definitely be looking to read this memoir soon.

  24. March 31, 2009 9:37 pm

    sign me up–i love love love memoirs–especially when they are funny! great review. 🙂

    nat @ book, line, and sinker

  25. March 31, 2009 10:47 pm

    This one sounds right up my alley!

  26. April 1, 2009 1:57 pm

    I read this book all in one sitting and really enjoyed it too!

  27. April 1, 2009 9:06 pm

    putting this one on my list!

  28. April 1, 2009 9:59 pm

    This sounds good – I’m going to look for it.

  29. April 2, 2009 7:34 pm

    She is hilarious – I enjoyed this one years ago and am looking forward to Undress me In the Temple of Heaven.

  30. April 4, 2009 4:44 pm

    Got to go see if my library has this!

  31. April 23, 2009 2:41 pm

    I’ve heard a lot of good things about this one. I absolutely love the title.

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