Mermaids in the Basement Author:Michael Lee West Reeling from the loss of her mother, plagued with a bad case of writer's block (and don't even talk about those extra twenty pounds), Renata DeChavannes feels as though everything is just plain wrong. And that was before the tabloids caught her sweetheart, filmmaker Ferg Lauderdale, sharing an intimate squeeze with Hollywood's hottes... more »t young tamale.
But the granddaughter of the formidable Honora DeChavannes possesses more hell than belle in her backbone -- and she's about to reclaim it. Heading south to Honora's home on the Gulf Coast, Renata is determined to stop feeling like a wilted gardenia and emerge as the unstoppable kudzu her beloved grandmother proudly proclaimed she would be. But for that to happen Renata's got to face some not-so-genteel ghosts from her past, discover the truth about the mother she desperately misses, and make peace with the first man who abandoned her and broke her heart: her handsome and distant father.« less
The beginning and ending were great. The middle - so so.
Be prepared for the Alabama weather to be described over and over again in EVERY CHAPTER, and be prepared for the main character to slip newspaper articles in her pocket in EVERY CHAPTER. Sometimes I felt like the author was "beating a dead horse" - something amusing happened near the beginning of the book and apparently she thought it'd be great to have it happen a few more times in other chapters. First time = funny. Fifth time = I'm over it.
I know it doesn't seem like it after this review, but I did enjoy the book. The author was a little long-winded, but it was still a worthwhile read. I'm glad I didn't spend money on buying it, but I am glad I read it.
I liked this book quite a bit. Who doesn't love southern women and their fiery attitudes?! :) Some people have complained that no one wants to know about their parents' love lives, and that may be true, but I think it's perfectly justifiable in this story, as the main character has no idea what caused her father to be distant for most of her life. I would want to know why, if it happened to me, even if it did involve hearing about my parents former love lives...especially if my parents weren't alive to tell me themselves. I thought it was a great story about parents and children's relationships and parents and children's misguided attempts to protect each other from the truth when, in the end, the truth will set you free.
There were parts of this book that I loved, and parts I just can't seem to wrap my brain around. Who really wants to hear all the sordid details of your parents' lives? The affairs, the fights, etc. This is what Renata is experiencing after the death of her mother. It is an attempt to bring her closer to her estranged father, and to understand her parents relationship better.
There were funny eccentric characters, but overall, I really didn't see the point of her journey. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood to understand it.
Michael Lee West does write well. Her descriptions and her characters are memorable, but the entire topic didn't really impress me enough to love this book.
From Publishers Weekly
Ripe with Southern charm and sultry atmosphere, West's diverting and funny latest unravels the tangled gossamer web of an eccentric extended Southern family. At the heart of the novel is Renata DeChavannes, who has a pretty full plate: a tabloid ran a story about her longtime film director boyfriend's possible on-set fling with an actress; her mother and step-father died in a plane crash five months ago; her father is about to marry his fourth wife (a squeaky-voiced young thang named Joie); and she's just found a letter written by her mother instructing her to ferret out her mother's dirty secrets. So Renata heads to her Gulf Coast Alabama hometown, where her indomitable grandmother Honora DeChavannes; steadfast former nanny Gladys Boudreax; and Honora's longtime friend and former actress, Isabella D'Agostina McGeehee, live. The story flies by, loaded with grand parties, sumptuous Southern meals, multiple affairs and harrowing calamities. West's storytelling talent shines when she's following around the fiery belles, though she has trouble getting convincingly into the head of Renata's father, Louie, and the profusion of subplots can feel overwhelming. On the whole, it's a joyride, if a sometimes bumpy one. (Jan.)