Little Altars Everywhere by Rebecca Wells. If you've read The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, you might be interested in this book.
This is mainly a story of growing up with the leader of the Ya-yas as a mother. Told largely from the perspective of Siddalee Walker, daughter of Vivianne Abbot Walker, there are also chapters told in the voices of the 3 other children in the family, Little Shep, Baylor and Lulu.
The most interesting thing about the book is how it starts out with the children relating incidents in their lives when they are young. And part of you thinks, "Man, I'd love to have that life." The chapter about going out to Spring Creek for the summer is enchanting--and a dream of a childhood summer.
But there are hints of the dysfunction hiding just below the surface of this Southern story. Miss Vivi drinks too much. She and Big Shep fight too much in front of the kids. Miss Vivi is a drama queen. Everything is about HER first, and about the children only as they are extensions of herself.
The second half of the book exposes the truth beneath the stories of the first half. The children are badly damaged by their parents--a mother with a full blown narcissistic personality; the girl who never got over being "all that" in high school. A dad who checks out of the conflict and goes to the duck camp any time there is anything unpleasant to deal with. A dad that didn't protect his children.
A good book, hard to believe it was a first novel. Wells shows the dark side of the South without making the South seem all bad. You know she grew up Southern from the dialogue. She has it cold.
Parts of the book are hysterically funny. Parts ineffably sad. Worth a read if you're into Southern lit.
Here's a funny part (because my own sweet mom has poodles) told in the voice of Little Shep:
Buggy, my Mama's mama, has got the meanest little lapdog you ever laid eyes on. One of those puny-butt poodles that's nothing but bone and fluff. And to Buggy that dog can't do any wrong. It can pee or poop or tear up the bedspread and Buggy just say, Isn't that just the darlingest thing you have ever seen?
Even though I don't care for yap-butts like that dog, I still think an animal oughta get treated with some respect and not like a nutcase, which is what Buggy has been turning that puff-ball into.
My Daddy say, Buggy is going to drive that animal as crazy as she did her daughter.