The Secret Lives of Church Ladies Summary and Reviews

The Secret Lives of Church Ladies

by Deesha Philyaw

The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw X
The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw
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Book Summary

The Secret Lives of Church Ladies explores the raw and tender places where Black women and girls dare to follow their desires and pursue a momentary reprieve from being good.

The nine stories in this collection feature four generations of characters grappling with who they want to be in the world, caught as they are between the church's double standards and their own needs and passions.

There is fourteen-year-old Jael, who has a crush on the preacher's wife. At forty-two, Lyra realizes that her discomfort with her own body stands between her and a new love. As Y2K looms, Caroletta's "same time next year" arrangement with her childhood best friend is tenuous. A serial mistress lays down the ground rules for her married lovers. In the dark shadows of a hospice parking lot, grieving strangers find comfort in each other.

With their secret longings, new love, and forbidden affairs, these church ladies are as seductive as they want to be, as vulnerable as they need to be, as unfaithful and unrepentant as they care to be, and as free as they deserve to be.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"[A] collection of luminous stories populated by deeply moving and multifaceted characters...Tender, fierce, proudly Black and beautiful, these stories will sneak inside you and take root." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"[T]riumphant...Philyaw's stories inform and build on one another, turning her characters' private struggles into a beautiful chorus." - Publishers Weekly

"Our new decade deserves a new literary force with major literary skills. Deesha Philyaw uses the comic, the allegorical, and the geographic to examine Black intimacies and Black secrets. Her work is as rigorous as it is pleasurable to read." - Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy

"To encounter Deesha Philyaw's work is to encounter contemporary folktales. They are the stories of southern customs and mores and of voices over the back fence. The daughters and granddaughters of Toni Cade Bambara and Bebe Moore Campbell readers need this book." - Yona Harvey, author of Hemming the Water and writer for the Marvel Comics World of Wakanda series

"This is no mere collection of sappy romance stories. The love in Philyaw's stories runs the gamut from sweet to bitter, sexy to sisterly, temporary to time tested, often with hidden aspects. The word secret in the title is earned, and some of the secrets are downright juicy." - Tara Campbell, author of Midnight at the Organporium

This information about The Secret Lives of Church Ladies shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Deesha Philyaw

Deesha Philyaw's collection of short stories about Black women, sex, and the Black church, The Secret Lives of Church Ladies is forthcoming from West Virginia University Press in September 2020. Her work has been listed as Notable in the Best American Essays series, and her writing on race, parenting, gender, and culture has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, McSweeney's, the Rumpus, Brevity, dead housekeeping, Apogee Journal, Catapult, Cheat River Review, TueNight, ESPN's the Undefeated and the Baltimore Review; Essence, Ebony, and Bitch magazines; and various anthologies. Deesha is a Fellow at the Kimbilio Center for African American Fiction and a past Pushcart Prize nominee for essay writing in Full Grown People. Deesha is also the co-author of Co-Parenting 101: Helping Your Kids Thrive in Two Households After Divorce, written in collaboration with her ex-husband.

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