4th Book of 2005 finished:

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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.


I read both of these a few years ago. Good books. I borrowed them from the library at the time but have since bought them.

read most of the first, but it hit too close to home for me, so i've never delved into the second. hopefully some day i'll brave it.

i agree, the language (to these ears anyhow) is poetic.

On my mother's recommendation I read them a couple of years ago. I thought they were awful. It reminded me of the execrable Confederacy of Dunces.

I'm glad you liked them, MamaT, but every so often I find myself wishing I'd chucked them down and read something better written and more insightful to the human condition.

On the brighter side, they did give me some insight as to how my mother conceives of her childhood and relationship with her family. Yet one more reason I live several hundred miles away from my nearest family.

You must read as fast as I do, although generally a totally different sort of book. Do you count fnished books all the way through the year?

Aaah, Flambeaux, but it is very insightful to the human condition that I grew up in...almost too much so. Fortunately for me, I was a generation removed from the Vivi person.

I also think they are more "women's books" than one for a man.

And I think the movie glossed over the real evil that existed in Vivi.....

Julie, yes, it was something I just started last year, though. 2004 was a good reading year--I read 49 books. 2002/2003 were not so good--McKid was a high needs baby and there just wasn't much reading time around here.

I was feeling pretty proud of myself about how much I had read, until I talked to an older friend of mine, who is in our book club. She reads TWO BOOKS A WEEK! But she is retired and though she, too, runs after a toddler during the day, she is alone the rest of the time. She fills her spare time with reading and praying.

MamaT- I am a huge fan of Southern lit, it is music to my eyes... I read "Secrets of the Ya-ya", but not the "Little Altars"-I'll have to look into it. Watching "Divine Secrets" with my mama gave us an outlet for her to share about her childhood-which she never did. Now I understand why, at least.
Currently reading "Secret Life of Bees" highly recommend! It is a charmer of a story!

I thought "Little Altars" was even better than "Divine Secrets." I enjoyed both quite a bit...thought the movie was ghastly.



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This page contains a single entry by MamaT published on January 31, 2005 7:56 AM.

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