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Mermaids in the Basement Paperback – January 6, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (January 6, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060985070
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060985073
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #134,442 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Ripe with Southern charm and sultry atmosphere, West's diverting and funny latest unravels the tangled gossamer web of an eccentric extended Southern family. At the heart of the novel is Renata DeChavannes, who has a pretty full plate: a tabloid ran a story about her longtime film director boyfriend's possible on-set fling with an actress; her mother and step-father died in a plane crash five months ago; her father is about to marry his fourth wife (a squeaky-voiced young thang named Joie); and she's just found a letter written by her mother instructing her to ferret out her mother's dirty secrets. So Renata heads to her Gulf Coast Alabama hometown, where her indomitable grandmother Honora DeChavannes; steadfast former nanny Gladys Boudreax; and Honora's longtime friend and former actress, Isabella D'Agostina McGeehee, live. The story flies by, loaded with grand parties, sumptuous Southern meals, multiple affairs and harrowing calamities. West's storytelling talent shines when she's following around the fiery belles, though she has trouble getting convincingly into the head of Renata's father, Louie, and the profusion of subplots can feel overwhelming. On the whole, it's a joyride, if a sometimes bumpy one. (Jan.)
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.

Review

“Deliciously zany novel of Southern discomfort. (Redbook Magazine)

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)

More About the Author

Michael Lee West grew up on the Gulf Coast with a wild tribe of Southern cooks. She is the author of nine books, including Crazy Ladies, Gone With a Handsomer Man, and A Teeny Bit of Trouble.

Customer Reviews

I look forward to the next one.
CRC
The plot offered no real surprises and some ended abruptly and a bit contrived, kind of like, okay the book's too long, let's wrap this up quickly.
mom2andy
I absolutely loved this captivating story and found I could truly relate to these characters in many ways.
Josie Jean

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By D. Hundley on January 27, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I gave this book a five star rating because I could never find a good "stopping place". You know how you tell yourself that you'll put the book up at the end of the chapter? Well, I couldn't help myself; I just had to keep reading. It has elements of romance, drama, and suspense along with a few laughs. I highly recommend it. :0)
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Daniel W. Hays on February 10, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Michael Lee West lives on a farm near Lebanon, Tennessee, surrounded by her husband and a large variety of animals, both farm and domestic. This hardly qualifies her to write sophisticated, comic romances set in surprising locales. But she's done just that in novels like "Crazy Ladies" and "Mad Girls in Love."
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.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By CRC on February 13, 2008
Format: Hardcover
From Chapter 1 when you first meet Renata DeChavannes you will not want to put this one down. You become quickly drawn into her life, her feelings and emotions.

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.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on January 11, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Carrying twenty extra pounds is enough of a load, but Renata DeChavannes rationalizes that she has earned every pound. Five months ago her mother and stepfather died in a plane crash leaving Renata bereft. Recently the National Examiner ran a feature about her boyfriend award winning movie director Ferguson Lauderdale having an affair with actress Esme Vasquez while filming on location in Ireland Joyce's Ulysses. Finally her father Louie informs her that he is marrying again for the nth time with someone younger than her.

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.

Harriet Klausner
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By JJ VINE VOICE on May 19, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Ms. West never fails to make the South come alive. As other reviewers have already said, you can smell the gradenias & taste the mint juleps. Soutern stories are my favorite & Mrs. West is one of the best. I loved all the characters, even Isabella, and thought her tricks very creative. Only the South could have such eccentric characters and Mrs. West can bring them alive. I just wish Mrs West could write faster & give us more great southern stories.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mercedes J. TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 7, 2009
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I just love Michael Lee West. I've read almost all her books, and this one did not disappoint! My absolute favorite genre of book is Southern Fiction, and 'Mermaids...' is about as southern as it gets.

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!
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