Shelby Hearon has been widely praised for the insight, wit, and subtlety with which her novels limn the complexities of marriage and family ("What Jane Austen is to courtship, Shelby Hearon is to marriage" --New York Newsday), and the ways in which place can profoundly affect us all. Now, with Ella in Bloom, Hearon gives us her sharpest, funniest, most telling novel yet.
It is the story of Ella, who has always lived in the shadow of her "perfect" older sister. A gutsy single parent eking out a living for herself and her intrepid teenage daughter Birdie, Ella invents a genteel life, writing to her mother in drought-baked Texas about her heirloom roses, her linen dresses, and other amenities of a respectable life in Old Metairie, Louisiana. Little does her mother know about the run-down, scruffy house Ella really lives in, or that she makes ends meet by watering rich people's houseplants when they flee the coastal summer heat.
But when Ella's beautiful sister Terrell, on the way to meet her lover, is suddenly killed in a chartered plane crash, old family patterns are shattered. And Ella, confronting the reality of her life (and of the man she had relegated to the past) comes, finally and fully, into bloom.
Wise, wicked, and moving, in Shelby Hearon's hands this portrait of a woman--a woman we all know--is guaranteed to give extraordinary pleasure.
Prolific author Hearon's 16th novel is the perfect Oprah book written by a Southern woman for a primarily female readership.....While there is some genuine sadness here, it gets buried under the unrelenting cuteness.
The chatty narrative style belies the author's deeply wise perspective, succeeding in lifting a familiar theme--middle-aged woman gets a second chance at love--loftily above its usual treatment.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
Ella's mother reminded me of the English TV comedy, Waiting for God's Marigold. Always looking over her shoulder at how other's might think of her.
A radiant novel that gets the rhythms and cadences of small-town life exactly right. An unforgettable story of a time when the world lost its innocence--and of a town that finds its redemption in an extraordinary love.
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