Southern fiction is always high on my list of appealing reads. I love the eccentric characters, the enticing settings, and that indefinable something that marks them undeniably as southern. Combined with the cheery and colorful cover, this guaranteed that I would be buying this book for myself. And I am pleased to say that I was not disappointed in it.
Mostly told in the three alternating voices of Louise, her daughter Caroline, and her maid's daughter Missy, this enchanting novel details three very different examples of Southern womanhood.
Louise is a wife and mother struggling with her relationship with her difficult daughter. She is creative and has quite an eye but no outlet for that creativity. She takes on the problems of all of those around her, cantankerous mother-in-law, divorcing friend, and gay son. Over the course of the ten years of the narrative, she learns her own worth and how to best be there for others while still being true to herself.
Caroline is not the typical southern deb in waiting. She is an actress, one who disdains the others at her high school, one who wants to make a difference, one who cannot relate to the mother she finds overly conventional. Like her mother, Caroline learns much about herself throughout the novel, even if she runs away from the south and all that it represents in order to discover it.
Missy is a born again evengelical Christian whose father ran out on her mother and her when she was small. Waiting for him to come back for her and dissatisfied with her life as it is, she looks for her own good works to do. She decides that helping Charles, Louise's son, overcome his homosexuality will be the thing that changes her life. And it is, but not because she succeeds and certainly not in the ways that she expects.
The three main characters will draw the reader in and keep them reading along. The humor made me chuckle repeatedly. And yet White doesn't shy away from controversial topics, treating them fairly and sometimes slyly satirically. This is well written and entertaining and while the ending just tapers off, it is overall a fun slice of southern reading.