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Hot Fudge Sundae Blues: A Novel Paperback – August 30, 2005


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Hot Fudge Sundae Blues: A Novel + Right as Rain: A Novel (Ballantine Reader's Circle) + Walking Through Shadows: A Novel
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (August 30, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345468430
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345468437
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,958,611 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Layla Jay, the endearing young narrator of Marshall's third novel (following Right as Rain), fakes salvation at the age of 13 to impress a boy at church. Religious themes play a large role in this coming-of-age tale set in the early 1960s, but the story actually revolves around a different kind of faith—a faith in people and in family, despite all their flaws. Layla Jay leads a relatively happy life in her small Mississippi town, but when her flakey alcoholic mother marries a hypocritical revivalist preacher, their home is thrown into chaos, and Layla Jay comes to realize that God answers prayers in perplexing and often painful ways. In the scattered, melodramatic first half of the book, disasters befall Layla Jay and her family one after another: her grandmother dies, her mother survives a near-fatal car accident, and Layla Jay escapes her stepfather's attempt to rape her only when her mother finishes him off with a 7-Up bottle. The second half of the novel then deepens into an exploration of the consequences of deceit and the nature of familial love. Throughout, Marshall propels the story with all-too-human characters whose faults are enormous and whose mistakes are almost inexcusable, but who are never beyond forgiveness.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

In Marshall's third novel set in sultry Zebulon, Mississippi, the author treads mother-daughter territory reminiscent of Janet Fitch's White Oleander (1999) and Mona Simpson's Anywhere but Here (1986). Layla Jay and her mother, a widow on the prowl for a good man (or just a good time), stave off sorrow by indulging in Tastee Freeze hot-fudge sundaes: "Filled with that cup of joyful sweetness, suddenly you don't have the blues anymore." But when Mom marries lecherous evangelist Wallace during Layla Jay's first year of junior high, magnifying the trauma of a pair of family tragedies and general postpubescent confusion, the blues aren't so easy to chase away. Tension erupts in a grisly crime of passion, leaving Layla Jay contemplating perjury to protect her mother. Despite grim elements, Marshall propels her characters ever closer to contentment, introducing lovable supporting characters that balance the sorrow with perfect (often too-perfect) symmetry. But there is real complexity in the bond between mother and daughter, and the trials they endure leave one all the more satisfied when the maraschino-cherry-sweet conclusion hints at brighter horizons. Jennifer Mattson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
5 star
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4 star
33%
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See all 9 customer reviews
I love Bev Marshall's ability to tell intriguing stories.
Armchair Interviews
WALKING THROUGH SHADOWS was my first Bev Marshall novel, and it was one of the most entertaining books I had read in some time.
William D. Brisbane
Bev Marshall provides a powerful perspective of the good, the bad, and the ugly of human interactivity.
Harriet Klausner

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jamie Cox Robertson on September 3, 2005
Format: Paperback
Bev Marshall's third novel, Hot Fudge Sundae Blues, begins with thirteen year old narrator, Layla Jay faking her own salvation to impress a boy at church.

The novel is a coming-of-age story set in the 1960's, in the small town of Zebulon, Mississippi. Layla Jay lives a quiet life on a farm with her mother, Frieda and her grandparents. Her mother marries Wallace, a so-called man of God who turns out to be phony. Frieda doesn't care whether or not Wallace is religious, as a matter of fact, she prefers it when he goes out drinking and dancing with her since she only married him so she and Layla Jay could move away from the farm. Layla Jay is uncomfortable around Wallace, and rightly so. Their lives together, under one roof, throw Layla Jay's world into a tailspin and when a problem arises, Layla Jay finds herself doing two things: praying and lying. Not always in that order, but always praying and lying. She means well, and we know it. Her mother means well and we are forgiving of her as well.

The first half of the book is filled with problems that seem somewhat disjointed; however the second half deals with the consequences of choices and the complexities of familial love. Layla Jay talks with God every step of the way, but this novel is not about Layla Jay's relationship with God, it isn't even about her relationship with Wallace even though he is the reason for so many of her problems. This novel is about relationships with those we love-for Layla Jay it is about her grandma who longs to see her family saved by Jesus, her best friend June who harbors an aching secret, her relationship with her fly-by-the-seat-of-her-pants mother, and her first love, a sweet boy named Jehu.

In Marshall's first two novels, she made us fall in love with her characters.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Armchair Interviews on September 1, 2005
Format: Paperback
It's 1963 and after numerous Sunday altar calls, 13-year-old Layla Jay decides it is time to seek salvation. Never mind that she was pretending to be "saved" and that she feels a certain amount of guilt. Layla Jay wanted to make her grandmother happy, get noticed by a boy and besides, she had been dramatically playing out the scene for a long time. And it played just like a movie.

Religion becomes more interesting to Layla Jay when a handsome preacher comes to stay at her family's home. Wallace gives Layla Jay his attention until the beautiful Frieda (Layla Jay's mother) waltzes back home. Wallace and Frieda marry and for a brief moment Layla Jay believes she'll have the father she lost to death at age two. She soon learns that Wallace is not as he seems and her mother's childish and reckless behavior places Layla Jay and herself at risk. During this troublesome time, Layla Jay has to deal with her best friend's betrayal and a boy who can't seem to make a decision about who he loves. Ultimately it is an act of love and sacrifice to protect her daughter that places Frieda at risk. It is a lie told by Layla Jay that just might keep her life and that of her mother's from disintegrating.

I love Bev Marshall's ability to tell intriguing stories. She mixes a bit of humor with a whole lot of tragedy. She also introduces us to humanity in the form of her rich and complex characters that you hate to say good-bye to when the last page has been read. I can't wait to see what she writes next. And you'd better believe I'll be waiting for its release. And none too patiently I might add.

Armchair Interviews says: You'll also enjoy Walking Through Shadows and Right as Rain.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Marianna Randazzo on March 4, 2007
Format: Paperback
Basically, I had nothing in common with Layla Jay's character except that I was a girl, had once been a teenager, have a mother and feared God! This was more than enough to connect to this intensely fascinating story of a wonderfully, interesting family that basically struggles to survive and find a greater understanding of things beyond our control. The characters are interesting, sometimes charming and mostly flawed! This is what makes it a great story because on some levels it is a true reflection of humankind!

Great work Bev!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Trinity on December 2, 2005
Format: Paperback
I picked up this book after reading "Walking through the Shadows" by Bev Marshall. That was a great book, she is such a talented storyteller. However, I must say though, I loved this book more. I will not give away any hints as to what this book is about. There was one point when I felt that if I did not finish the book that I would come apart with worry and angst over Layla Jay's situation. Ms. Marshall really grabbed me with this one and I really, couldn't put it down.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on September 15, 2005
Format: Paperback
In 1963 at the Pisgah Methodist Church, thirteen years old Layla Jay week after week disappoints her grandma by not accepting Brother Thompson's offer of salvation. Grandma fears that her only grandchild will follow the sinning examples of her husband and her daughter. However when Jehu Albright comes to the church Layla Jay decides to impress this teenage Steve McQueen hunk of a boy by accepting Brother Thompson's prayers.

However God answers in mysertious ways as she sees Jehu with another "woman", her drunken mother marries Brother Wallace Ebert and is in a car accident, and grandma dies. When Ebert starts with twitching her nose and leering at her, but soon tries to rape Layla Jay, her mom intercedes with a 7-Up bottle. Life will never be the same in this household.

HOT FUDGE SUNDAE BLUES is more than a historical perspective glimpse of the 1960s in small town Mississippi; although that provides the background, the tale is more a deep family drama that looks closely at love between extended kin in spite of flaws, and deception and dishonesty to hide these defects from loved ones. What makes a loving relationship is not just shared gene pool, but the ability to forgive not necessarily to forget even the biggest transgressions. Bev Marshall provides a powerful perspective of the good, the bad, and the ugly of human interactivity.

Harriet Klausner
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More About the Author

Bev Marshall grew up in McComb and Gulfport, Mississippi. She is the author of three novels, Walking Through Shadows, Right As Rain, and Hot Fudge Sundae Blues. Her awards include the Mississippi Library Association Fiction of the Year Award, the New York Public Library Best Books for the Teen Age award, and others. She lives with her husband, a retired military and airline pilot in Ponchatoula, Louisiana, where a caged alligator serves as the town's tourist attraction.

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