Review: The Mighty Queens of Freeville

The Mighty Queens of Freeville, by Amy Dickinson

The Down and Dirty

These are the loose memoirs of Amy Dickinson, the woman chosen to replace advice columnist extraordinaire Ann Landers. Her childhood, failed marriage, single motherhood and wayward pets are all fair game for this humorous look-back at her life before and after Ask Amy.

I wondered if there was a military academy somewhere in the Maine woods that would accept an oversize toddler with anger management issues. I had it all figured out. I would drop Emily off along with her Beauty and the Beast backpack. Then I would drive quickly away and go to a roadside diner, sit at the counter, and eat a big piece of pie. All by myself.
The Mighty Queens of Freeville, by Amy Dickinson

The Literary Criticism

Billed as a memoir, Dickinson's book is perhaps better described as a loose collection of cute anecdotes about her family, her divorce, her pets, or anything else that comes to mind. Pieced together a bit haphazardly, Dickinson nonetheless has a sharp, witty voice that shines through no matter the seriousness of the subject matter:

Though divorce runs through my clan like an aggressive chromosome, I had never been exposed to family ugliness of any sort, partly because my parents' divorce happened after my father simply and suddenly walked away from our home. I never saw my parents argue before, during, or after their split. One advantage to actual abandonment is that it cuts down on marital discord. In order to fight with my father, my mother would have had to to locate him first.
The Mighty Queens of Freeville, by Amy Dickinson

The ex-husband gets repeatedly skewered throughout the book (apparently time, in fact, does not heal all wounds), but that's the price one pays when an ex-spouse has a national platform on which to skew as she wishes.

While the anectdotes were very enjoyable, there is a lack of focus on the original focus of the book, namely the female family members who inspire the title. The snippets of aunts, sisters and especially her mother leave you feeling it just wasn't enough. What the reader does get, however, is a snapshot of life that is easy to relate to and produces a chuckle or two.

Our Recommendation

If you love humor applied to the human condition, we're willing to bet you'd enjoy this one, as long as you don't have expectations of a thorough and introspective autobiography. Uplifting and never trite, Amy Dickinson touches on struggles common to all of us, meets those troubles head-on and shows us why we should never, ever give up.

Available in bookstores today.

Title: The Mighty Queens of Freeville
Author: Amy Dickinson
ISBN-13: 978-1401322854
240 pages
Publisher: Hyperion
Date: February 3, 2009

Additional Opinions Floating Around in Blogland:

A Garden Carried in the Pocket
Book Tsunami
I Smell Books
Reading Reflections
Word Lily
Bermudaonion's Weblog
The Bluestocking Society
Wrighty's Reads
Pudgy Penguin Perusals
Never Without a Book
Ratskellar Reads
The Booklady's Blog


  1. Sometimes I think my life is one big joke on the human condition! It honestly is how you stay sane, right? I'm pretty sure I would find alot of humor in this book. Thanks for your ever-entertaining reviews!

  2. You got this one exactly right! The book is enjoyable, but it's just a bunch of cute little stories.

  3. Hmmm...I have this one in the pile and while it sounds amusing...which is grand...I hoped for a bit more I guess.

  4. I agree about the lack of focus on the original focus, but it didn't really bother me. I enjoyed the stories and thought there was enough of a common thread running through that we get a good picture of the trajectory of her life. It's not a life changing read by any means, but definitely a fun one-sitting way to amuse yourself (I read it during the Superbowl) and reviewed it here.

  5. I'll be passing on this one. Neither the geneticist nor the editor in me is able to get past the phrase "aggressive chromosome." Say what?

  6. Sandy - I know that feeling very, very well. Sometimes you've just gotta laugh at it all or go insane!

    Kathy - there didn't seem to be much cohesiveness to this one, did there?

    Caite - it really is just a light, fluffy kind of read.

    Rebecca - I'll link to your review!

    Beth - LOL --- now I can't get that out of my head!

  7. This one is on my shelf. Who knows when I'll get to it. It sounds good but I'm not sure good enough to rush to right now.

  8. Sounds interesting, though not sure it's up my alley. Great review, as always.

    Diary of an Eccentric

  9. That was a nice well balanced review!

  10. Hmmm, doesn't sound like my cuppa tea. I'm not really into reading about the bashing of exes. But thanks for the review!

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