"Richer, darker and deeper than the second book or the movie, this book truly is a 'must' read if you want to understand the Walker family, especially the mystery who is Viviane Abbot Walker.
Starting as a simple short story ("Looking for My Mules," with Shep, Viviane and an old man lost on their farm), Rebecca Wells' tales of growing up in Louisiana in a less than perfect home grew first into Little Altars Everywhere, then into the Divine Secrets book and movie. Each chapter contains a well crafted short story, told from the viewpoint of different characters. Each chapter offers a title with the name of the narrator and year they are talking in. In some cases, the titles are enough to draw you in (Catfish Dreams; E-Z Boy War; The Princess of Gimmee.)
From the 60's to the 90's, each story offers a simple, but meaningful slice of the entire Walker family's story. Some are told in the present, some are memories of what happened long ago. The chapters weave together to give you a wider view of what was going on from different perspectives.
As you read, you'll find yourself piecing together the story of Sidalee, her siblings, her mother Vivi and father Shep, as well as Willetta and Chaney, the black couple who were hired help, and who have an outside view of the family.
Don't stop reading with this book, or you'll miss a view of the whole person -- doting mother, child abuser, unloved child, shattered schoolgirl, broken hearted, passionate lover, distant wife and mother as well as a view of Shep as a fallible human being and how he contributed to Vivi's 'condition' and the affect it had on their children.
A treasure of a book, you may find it more unsettling than the movie or the second book. Excellent writing, it will leave you wanting to know more (unless you've already read the second book!)"
- Dale A. Blanchard
Rebecca Wells' long-awaited first novel is a brillant piece of work...a structural tour de force...a classic Southern tale of dysfunctional and marginal madness. The author's gift for giving life to so many voices leves the reader profoundly moved." This is one of my very favorite authors and books. I will immediately buy and read anything she writes. This is an awesome book!
Wells presents an astonishing family of voices, potent in its pain, dazzingly brilliant in its stretches and perceptions. Thisx hilariously sad immersion into walker family of Thorton Loiusiana will leave few readers unchanged.
The book was so-so. It was interesting to a point but not interesting enough for me to finish reading. I've read Ya-Ya books before and they're ok but guess on the whole, not my cup of tea. If you like Ya-Ya, I guess you would like this one though it jumps around a lot.
et in the early 60's and 90's in small-town Louisiana. The story is narrated in turn by members of a curiously likable family--of terrible parents and unstrung kids--and by a pair of depressingly noble black servants. After a 1991 erotic dream tribute to Mama Viviane by daughter Siddalee, Part I begins with Siddalee, in 1963, telling of the Girl Scout camping weekend led by Mama and one of her ``Ya-Ya'' chums. (The Ya-Yas drink bourbon and branch water, play a kind of poker and shout and drink again, and call everyone ``Dahling'' like their idol Tallulah.) Meanwhile, those moments that ``came and went,'' the chances to be kind and set things right, are on the mind of Daddy, ``Big Shep,'' in his story. Both parents are awash in self- pity, feel threatened, and, to make things worse, Big Shep is not really one of the Old Boys, being Baptist (he talks to ``Old Podnah'' in the fields) and a farmer. Viviane feels no one knows what she really is and hates Siddalee's love of books: ``Life is not a book. You can't just walk away from it when it gets boring and you get tired.'' The parents drink away the silences within, while the children see all but don't really know all--until Part II and 1991, when they remember and examine their memories with hatred, bitterness, and, crazily, adult love. The servants disclose terrible cruelty; one son discloses sexual abuse; and another son pays witty tribute to the homeland and people in bitter cynicism and true affection. Wells's people pop with life, but it's quite a stretch from a sour mash Auntie Mame to an abusive Mommie Dearest without some fictional coherence; here, violence seems grafted rather than grown. But Wells's view of Mama Vivi and a Ya-Ya, bagged to the ears and rocketing down the road, is memorable.
It was hard for me to read because Id seen the YaYa Sisterhood movie and I kept picturing James Garner as the father. I like James Garner, however I found the father in the book to be unlikable, thus the conflict. The movie made it seem like the characters were eccentric and fun, reading the book I got the impression that they were certifiable and I kept wondering where child protective services was.
I think I want to read the YaYa Sisterhood eventually, just to see if the characters in the book stay true to form.
This is the prequel to Divine Sisters of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. I wish I had read it first, but it fleshes out a lot of what the DSYYS did not. Enjoyable read, although some of the characters are not loveable.
I loved this book almost as much as the Devine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood. It's a "prequel" almost, written chapter-by-chapter from the points of view of different characters, taking place during the times the Ya-Yas were women with school-aged children. Lovely picture of Southern living in the 1960s and also haunting at times. Funny throughout.
A deceptive book. Seems like a light and sassy novel about Southern ladies, but oh, the disfuncion that lies just under the surface. Some sections seem a little overwrought, but given the subject matter, I would say she managed to pull it of rather well.