Amy Dickinson’s family is estrogen-heavy and divorce-riddled. It’s crazy and quirky and all-consuming; we should all be so lucky to have one like hers.
The Mighty Queens of Freeville refers to Amy Dickinson’s disproportionately female family who lives in the small town of Freeville in upstate New York. These women often raised children as single mothers and grew to depend on each other - and, in the process, learned what family was all about.
Dickinson’s memoir takes us to London, Washington, D.C. and Chicago, but it begins and ends in Freeville. She introduces us to her husband and her father, but it’s her mother, aunts, sisters, and daughter who define her world and her values.
Many of the mundane details of Dickinson’s life are not that different from our own. How many divorce stories have we heard? How many single mother stories have we heard? How many cat stories have we heard? However, this is one of those occasions where if someone says, “Yeah, but you haven’t read this divorce story, this single mother story, this cat story…”, it actually means something. It’s her refreshing take on old themes that keeps us reading and relating.
While she may be a “fancy pants” to her family, traveling the world, doing radio, being a big-shot writer, the Mighty Queens are not impressed with her Big City ways. They simply see dorky little Amy. An “aggressive strain” of dorkitude runs in her family where
“the dork-trait most often publicly manifests itself not by excelling at academic subjects but by singing Elizabethan music and strolling – while wearing a very unfortunate costume.”
Regardless of the people or the places about which she writes, Dickinson can tell an incredibly engaging story. It’s entertaining and fun. It’s moving and witty. It’s a page-turner with an admirable use of language.
If Dickinson’s syndicated advice column (hers replaced Dear Abby) and NPR appearances are as rich as this memoir, we should be tracking those down as well.