Diary of a Mad Housewife

Kaufman, Sue. Diary of a Mad Housewife. New York: Random House, 1967.

Diary of a Mad Housewife is predictable and yet – not. Bettina Balser is a middle-class housewife and mother in New York City. She has two daughters, ages seven and nine and an up and coming lawyer for a husband. She thinks she is slowly going out of her mind until her husband plays it big in the stock market and moves up in his law firm. By all standards they are now rich. Suddenly, Bettina’s mental stability goes from questionable to outright mad. She thinks she has every phobia in the book. As the Balser family status changes life unravels even more for Bettina. Her husband Jonathan’s demands for only the finest everything has Bettina running around like his personal assistant, even in the bedroom. The only way Bettina can sort through her emotions, resentments and increasing mania is to start a journal. This diary is her release, the outpouring of everything.
In the end, and the end is somewhat predictable, Bettina comes to understand that every stability (mental health included) comes at a price and everyone is paying at some level.

Lines that really stood out, “I hated her until I had my head shrunk, at which time I learned to “understand” her and be tolerant – which simply means I learned how to think of her without getting overwrought or blind with rage” (p 21), “From a distance of about five and a half feet we warily watched each other breathe” (p  167), and “And I realized that there I was again, in for one of the worst phases of my new looniness – middle-of-the-night insomnia” (p 71).

Reason read: October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This is the time to celebrate strong women. And don’t let Bettina fool you. She is strong.

Author fact: Kaufman died when she was only 50 years old.

Book trivia:  Diary of a Mad Housewife was made into a movie in 1970 and nominated for an Oscar. Alice Cooper had a part in it.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “I Am Woman – Hear Me Roar” (p 120).

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