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Mermaids in the Basement Paperback – January 6, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
West has a knack for realistic and engaging characters. This charming tale will keep readers wanting to know more about the inhabitants of Point Clear. (Library Journal (starred review))
Southern belles hell-bent on belated truth-telling in West’s latest wacky outing... . the belles’s barbed commentary never fails to entertain (Kirkus Reviews)
“An engaging tale that skips from glitzy romantic Hollywood to Deep South without missing a beat.” (Booklist)
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Top Customer Reviews
Now, she has surpassed herself with "Mermaids in the Basement," the story of a woman who has to go home to comfront all the ghosts of her past. What she discovers, however, is a very-current mystery and an old trunk that turns out to be sort of a Pandora's Box...it releases even more mysteries of her past.
All this is written in a wonderfully witty style. How can you resist a book that opens: "If I had not read the cover story in the March 2, 2000, National Inquirer, it's doubtful that I would have gone to Alabama and ruined my daddy's engagement party, much less sent the bride-to-be into a coma."
West is a very Southern writer. Her swift prose paints authentic portraits of people, places, and things Southern. You'll swear you can smell the magnolias. But there is no Southern Gothic here, despite the unpleasant events at the heart of this book. This is a romantic South peopled by ladies and gentlemen you wish were real.
West's prose is simple, and her style seems to be simple as well. That's deceptive. While her work is witty and romantic and very easy to read, there are all sorts of things going on under the surface.
As she begins to face her past, going home to the South, you are caught up in each chapter. Each character will inspire empathy and possess charming attributes. I would be surprised if you don't find a common trait with each one you encounter.
This story has many layers and as I unfolded each one I found the story to be intriguing, charming, and amusing.
This was my first read of Michael Lee West. I found it to be an excellent read, full of surprises and hard to put down. I look forward to the next one.
However, all that goes on the back burner when Renata obtains a message from her late mom insisting she go "home" to learn her "dirty secrets." A chance to escape Hollywood and her current case of writer's block, Renata leaves for the Alabama's Gulf Coast. There she will do her mom's bidding while seeing the steel magnolia make that tungsten magnolia triad of her grandmother Honora DeChavannes, Renata's former nanny Gladys Boudreaux and longtime friend former actress Isabella D'Agostina McGeehee.
Although the myriad of subplots needs a scorecard (or perhaps a flow chart) to keep track of, fans will enjoy this amusing slice of southern life. The women including Renata's late mother come across as fully developed formidable people while the men especially her boyfriend and her dad seem emaciated in comparison. Still readers will appreciate this humorous but discerning look at you can come home even if a major part of what made it home has passed on.
I won't re-hash the story since it's already been done here many times, but this is absolutely a page turner! I was a little surprised at just how much Renata had forgotten about her own childhood, and the difficult, tumultuous relationship between her mother and father, but listing to Honora, Gladys, and Isabella (my personal favorite!) re-tell them for her was a treat.
As for the ending, I'll admit, I saw it coming a mile away. There was certainly no surprise there, but I was pleased with it. Apparently, some characters from her previous novel 'Mad Girls In Love' make an appearence...unfortunately I read that book so long ago I have no recollection of what it was about, which was a bit of a bummer. I tried to remember Bitsy's side of her marriage to Louie, but just couldn't, so you may want to read that book first, though it's definitely not necessary. Overall, a great southern read, and as always, I look forward to Ms. West's upcoming novel's!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Super cute, funny, southern charmer of a book. It's a nice break from heavy reading. Really enjoyed it.Published 7 months ago by kimberly edge
Screenwriter Renata has a lot dragging her down right now. Her mother and stepfather have recently died in a plane crash, she has a terrible case of writer's block, and her film... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Elizabeth
I accidentally got hooked on this author's work when someone left Crazy Women in my bathroom one night.I was hooked because she tells her stories in each individual'sI experiences. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Linda O. Webb
Michael Lee West is a very good author. This book is very good, too. I like the southern girl going home to find herself aspect of the book. Read morePublished 11 months ago by E. Ervin
I liked this book but not as much as A Teeny Bit of Trouble. It wasn't as funny and it wasn't meant to be. It's about the south and families.Published 20 months ago by bunting
This book is by Michael Lee West, so it's got to be good. Mermaids is different from Ms. West's cozy mystery series but equally as good. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Amy Metz
I had to read for our book club. I personally did not enjoy, I am a busy person
and when I take the time to read I like to learn some kind of history through fiction... Read more