This book is about 3 generations of southern women in a dysfunctional, yet somewhat typical family of their respective time periods. They did what they had to do to survive. Very rich, strong characters....a mixture of both happiness and despair. However, I did not find this book to be fun, humorous, or a light read.
A multi-generational story of 6 Tennessee ladies, from Miss Gussie, her 2 daughters Dorothy and Clancy Jane, and their daugthers, Violet and Bitsy. The family is rounded out by Queenie, who keeps them all semi-sane. Great characters!
this is not your typical run of the mill southern women's novel...but on the other hand it is like one. the quirky charachters,the laughs the tears...the general confusion. the chapters are titled by who is talking and what year it is. it is 3 generations of women and what is going on around them from the early thirties thru Viet Nam to the early 70's.
Rebecca Wells's Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood is rivaled by a fictional sibling: Michael Lee West's Crazy Ladies. West's tale of wild women down South is faster and snappier than Wells's thick bayou prose gumbo, but it has some of the same virtues--a cast of wacky characters, lively regional dialogue, and a satisfying multigenerational time frame. The scene shifts from 1932 to 1972, and from Crystal Falls, Tennessee, to New Orleans to hippie Frisco and L.A., though it's mostly rooted in Tennessee, where sunflower gardens contain deep secrets and kids can light up whole summers with lightning bugs in a jar.
The crazy lady who starts the story is Gussie, vexed by her ornery first daughter, Dorothy. When Dorothy's kid sister, Clancy Jane, comes of age, the real ruckus begins, thanks partly to Gussie's helpless preference for sweet Clancy Jane over dour Dorothy, who calls Gussie "Mother Dear" from age 6 on. Sweet Clancy Jane turns out to be headstrong, too--she runs off in a poodle skirt with Hart, who works on oil rigs, Esso stands, and the odd Cajun girl on the side. And then the '60s hit, bringing on Gussie's grandkids, Bitsy and Violet, plus some jolting social changes reminiscent of Lisa Alther's Kinflicks. Though it's spiced with horror (rape, crib death, one character buried alive), the dominant tone is breezy humor. At one point, the sister with "thighs that could break a man's neck" catches her husband and her shapelier sister "wrapped around each other like stripes on a candy cane." Not a magisterial novel, but a really good read."
I really loved this book as I do most novels of the southern women genre. It is well-written and laugh-out-loud hysterical in many parts. I am looking forward to reading the rest of West's novels. This almost up there with the Ya Yas......!
Compelling.... could not put it down. A tale of a dysfunctional family. Three generations of women. The most amazing thing about it was that I found myself hating a character, then understanding that character; loving a character then despising a character; As in life, there really is no black or white - heroes can be villains sometimes; bad people can have good in them; people are flawed but not inherently evil..... I know this is a confusing review, the book was NOT confusing. It was downright mesmerizing. Loved it!
This book tells the story of the lives of three generations of women from Tennessee. It's been awhile since I read it, but I remember enjoying it thoroughly. I always like books about women society considers "crazy"--maybe because I can relate to them!
FROM THE PUBLISHER
From Tennessee to New Orleans, from hippie Haight-Ashbury to a remote desert ranch, here is a novel full of love and laughter, pain and redemption, told in the women's voices of one special family, that are as rich and recognizable as our own. Living large and hanging tough, they teach us the lessons we knew we were missing....
This is an amazing book. I absolutely loved it, and was hooked by the end of page one. Spanning well across mid century history and two wars, this story of mainly woman characters in the south has both old fashioned charm, sweetness and the irrepairable disasterous results of bad life decisions. It is the kind of book that will make you cringe as you can tell hardship is coming, and laugh out loud at it's blunt true to life wierdness.
Dealing with everything from rape and murder, poverty, sucicide attempts, infidelity, childbirth, (lots of childbirth) and the horror of war, it flows from one woman's story to the other in the most believable gripping fashion an excellent novel offers.
Pretty good book, though not what I expected it to be. (I was expecting Auntie Mame and got something completely different!)
A young 1930s housewife in rural Tennessee defends herself against an intruder, and the echoes of her act ring through the rest of her life and those of her daughters and, ultimately, their daughters'. West takes on the notion of favored-children here, and while one occasionally loses patience with the child who feels herself less loved, it's still a powerful piece in many ways.