Heathen Girls Mass Market Paperback – 1 Apr 2007
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
From the opening pages when I first met Charma Deane, her nemesis Bess, and the women who live in and around the Aunt Farm I was charmed, touched and tickled. The story explores relationships in all forms including social Southern small town life, true love, old friendships and new. But most of all it shows the power of women.
This is the kind of book that would be perfect for a book club or just to share among friends. It will be on my 'keeper' shelf.
Charma is summoned to the Aunt Farm, the George family's spiritual center, where she spent summers with her cousins Bess and Minnie. Bess is about to evict her aging aunts, Fawnie and Shug. Both the older women were, at different times, married to the same man who died years before. They are affectionate rivals now for family attention.
In returning to the family home, Charma confronts ghosts from her own past as she attempts to deal with her aunts' eviction, her cousin Bess's pending death, and her cousin Minnie's conflicts with her own daughter. Mother of two grown sons, and now divorced, Charma dances around feelings for the man she almost married, Guy Chapman. Guy literally left Charma at the altar many years before, but as the story unfolds, it becomes apparent he had good reasons for doing so.
The story line rests on each character coming to grips with what the cousins call the "sacred self." Interwoven into the narrative are snapshots of Southern culture, both past and present. Urging the reader on are family secrets and customs, both specific to the George family, but also familiar to anyone with a large extended family.
There's a poignant passage where Guy Chapman, now owner of his family's funeral parlor, speaks of the new South, but the message stretches across a nation. Guy returned to his hometown to save the family business, but in truth, the business is run by Dathan, an African American. But Guy keeps up appearances, knowing the business would falter if the townsfolk knew the real brains didn't reside with a member of the Chapman family. "You know they can make folks integrate the schools and the work force," he tells Charma. "But in those most private places where you have to lay your hands on someone..."
Charma knows what he means, responding, "Churches, mortuaries, and beauty shops." (pg. 295)
The novelist tells her story in an unpretentious, spontaneous manner, with Charma as narrator. The main character and those closest to her complete a personal journey that, in the end, makes each of them a wiser and stronger person. Some passages will require a careful read; it's obvious the novelist has a higher aim than writing just another chick lit tale.
The reader will enjoy a zany romp through antics of a Southern family whose aunts are irreverent, and whose cousins prove that blood is thicker than near-sibling rivalry. Luanne Jones rests much of the storyline on dialogue, and it is inevitable for a reader to entertain hope that the book might make its way to the big screen.
HEATHEN GIRLS is an entertaining read and offers home-spun philosophies on families and friends that keep the story in the reader's heart once the book is closed. Jones is a very good story-teller. We could use more of that in contemporary fiction.-Reviewed by Kay Day, editor, Creative Writer US*;Based on a review published at CW