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Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood: A Novel Paperback – December 7, 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; a edition (December 7, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006075995X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060759957
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,218 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #216,621 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Wells is a Louisiana-born Seattle actress and playwright; her loopy saga of a 40-year-old player in Seattle's hot theater scene who must come to terms with her mama's past in steamy Thornton City, Louisiana, reads like a lengthy episode of Designing Women written under the influence of mint juleps and Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom!. The Ya-Yas are the wild circle of girls who swirl around the narrator Siddalee's mama, Vivi, whose vivid voice is "part Scarlett, part Katharine Hepburn, part Tallulah." The Ya-Yas broke the no-booze rule at the cotillion, skinny-dipped their way to jail in the town water tower, disrupted the Shirley Temple look-alike contest, and bonded for life because, as one says, "It's so much fun being a bad girl!"

Siddalee must repair her busted relationship with Vivi by reading a half-century's worth of letters and clippings contained in the Ya-Ya Sisterhood's packet of "Divine Secrets." It's a contrived premise, but the secrets are really fun to learn. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Carrying echoes of both Fannie Flagg and Pat Conroy, Wells's second novel continues the story of Siddalee Walker, introduced in Little Altars Everywhere (1992). When Sidda asks her mother, the aging belle Vivi, for help in researching women's friendships, Vivi sends her daughter a scrapbook. From this artifact of Vivi's own lifelong friendship with three women collectively known as "the Ya-Ya's," and from Sidda's response to it, a story unfolds regarding a dark period in Vivi and Sidda's past that plagues their present relationship. While anecdotes about the Ya-Ya's (such as the riotous scene at a Shirley Temple look-alike contest) are often very amusing, the narrative is beset by superficial characterization and forced colloquialisms. Told through several narrative vehicles and traveling through space and time from Depression-era Louisiana to present-day Seattle, this novel attempts to wed a folksy homespun tale to a soul-searching examination of conscience. But while Wells's ambition is admirable and her talent undeniable, she never quite makes this difficult marriage work. $50,000 ad/promo; author tour. (May) FYI: HarperPerennial will publish the paperback edition of Little Altars Everywhere, which won the Western States Book Award, in May.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

More About the Author

Rebecca Wells is a novelist, actor, and playwright. She is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Ya-Yas in Bloom, Little Altars Everywhere (winner of the Western States Book Award), and Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (winner of the American Booksellers Book of the Year Award, short-listed for the Orange Prize), which was made into a feature film. She performs from her work internationally, and her books have been translated into twenty-three languages. A native of Louisiana, she now makes her home on an island in Puget Sound, Washington, with her spaniel and three sheep. Her website is: www.rebeccawellsbooks.com.

Customer Reviews

This book made me want to have had girlfriends like these.
Lauren Scaravelli
On the flip side, I found the novel's end to be a little bit too neat and abrupt, and I didn't find the adult Sidda to be a very likeable character.
Lady Clayton
Once I started reading this book, I could not put it down.
Linda Linguvic

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

63 of 65 people found the following review helpful By CaudleClan on April 1, 2000
Format: Paperback
If you read "Little Altars Everywhere", you will be glad to know that "Divine Secrets" takes a look at the life of Siddalee Walker from the distance of heavily analyzed adulthood. "Divine Secrets" focuses once again on Siddalee, but this time she is a 40-year old successful stage director who is taking some time out from her career and her love life to put to rest some old ghosts.
After having humiliated her mother in national print (a New York Times reporter calls Viviane Walker "a tap dancing child abuser"), Siddalee is gifted with her mother's scrapbook, which, in Vivane Walker's typically outrageous style, has been named "The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood". Viviane sends Siddalee this volume of personal mementos in an effort to have Siddalee understand her better without having to put any personal effort into the process.
Inside this scrapbook, Siddalee discovers bits and pieces of her mother's past - pictures, newspapaer articles, mementos - but she is not granted the entire story surrounding each of these titilating fragments. The reader is able to learn, through Viviane's own memory, all of the interesting details that Siddalee doesn't get to know.
This, I feel, is the greatest weekness in "Divine Secrets". The reader gets to see Viviane as a child and an adolescent, living in a home where she is abused by her father and openly detested by her mother. We learn about the death in WWII of Viviane's first and only love and the stresses put on her by having four stair-step children and an absentee husband. Siddalee, however, is not privy to any of this information.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Linda Linguvic HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 29, 2000
Format: Paperback
I had resisted this book for a long time because the title seemed silly. But I'd heard from several people that it was a good book, and I was ready to read what I thought might be light and frothy entertainment. I was immediately caught up in the story, however, and soon discovered that this was not a light book at all.
Sidda, who was brought up in Louisiana is, at age 40, is a successful theatrical director who has a falling out with her mother, Vivi, when she reveals too much of her childhood in a New York Times interview and her mother is depicted in print as a "tap dancing child abuser". Sidda is so deeply upset by this that she postpones her upcoming wedding and goes off to an island off the coast of Seattle to be alone. Her mother sends her a copy of a scrapbook entitled "The Devine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood" and gradually Sidda discovers more and more about her mother as well as about herself.
The four women who call themselves the Ya Yas developed their friendship as children in the 1930s and have been friends ever since. They've kept their friendship through their teenage years in the early forties, their marriages and motherhood in the 50s and have continued their friendship right up to the present, being there for each other through a lifetime of living.
The story is really Vivi's story though, and the place of the three friends in this novel is of important, but yet supporting players. With ultimate skill, the author brings the reader into the deep south. There's humidity and sweet smelling flowers; there's love and cruelty; there's the inequality of the racial relationships, there's funny and poignant stories; there's deep characterization. And, most of all there is friendship between the Ya Yas.
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful By James Hiller VINE VOICE on June 5, 2002
Format: Paperback
Two words that sum up this marvelous work of literature by Rebecca Wells: simply divine. I read this book on an airplane simply to pass the time, and found myself engrossed in a charming, quirky, and delightful romp of four of the most richly drawn women I have met in literature in a long time.
Wells manages to capture the incorrigible spirit of each of the "Ya-Ya's" and their dynamics are wonderful. Their complex, supportive group is a real entity, as real as the characters that created it. The most rich character of the bunch is Vivi, whom you both love and fear. She is a tornado in the Louisana swamps, and her antithesis is her much-confused daughter Sidda. It's Sidda and Vivi's relationship that lies at the heart of this book. Through Vivi's life, Sidda learns and relearns some important lessons in life that allow her to continue forward. By looking back, it helps sets her future.
What could have been merely a fun romp turns out to be dripping with personal nuggets of honesty. With each turn of the page, you laugh, you cry, you contemplate. Divine Secrets is surprisingly full of divine secrets, and discovering them is half the fun.
Take it from a guy who loved this book: don't delay, put this book on your summer reading list, and then enjoy the movie.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Cheryl A Hackworth on June 5, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book is a great story about female friendship and motherly love and the possible problems that may arise in both. I have a very strong relationship with my mother and few female friends, which is mostly the opposite setting of the main character of this book. Regardless, I found myself relating to many of the characters and living their lives. It is a very touching book filled with a wide range of emotions - it made me cry, a rare occasion for me while reading books. I recommend this to anyone interested in getting in touch with her feminine side. It'll make you appreciate all the women in your lives that much more.
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