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Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind: A Novel Paperback – August 22, 2000


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Product Details

  • Series: Miss Julia
  • Paperback: 273 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (August 22, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688177751
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688177751
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.4 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (289 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #46,020 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Charming Southern eccentrics breathe life into a predictable story of a proper Presbyterian wife ("Miss Julia") who finds her true self after the sudden death of her husband of 44 years, wealthy but parsimonious banker Wesley Lloyd Springer. Julia is becoming accustomed to the role of rich widow when another shock intrudes: Hazel Marie Puckett appears on the front porch wearing "heels too high, a dress too short, and hair too yellow," with a nine-year-old boy in tow whose "eyes were so much like Wesley Lloyd's it was like looking at her husband before she ever met him." Hazel Marie is on her way to beauty school in Raleigh, N.C., since Wesley senior left no provision for her support, and Miss Julia realizes that she must take her husband's "last legacy" into her home. Meanwhile, her inheritance attracts a variety of small-town opportunists, beginning with Pastor Ledbetter, who insinuates that her departed husband planned to leave his money to the church, then enlists the aid of "Christian psychologist" Dr. Fred Fowler to prove Miss Julia's incompetence in a court of law. Ross's characters resist their stereotypical outlinesAMiss Julia's black maid, Lillian, might talk like a character from Gone with the Wind, but she provides the strategy for retrieving Little Lloyd Jr. when he's abducted by Hazel Marie's shifty uncle, Brother Vern, a televangelist who also has designs on Miss Julia's money. Miss Julia's luck turns when, ransacking the pantry for Lillian's cache of Oreos, she comes across a Winn-Dixie sack secreted by Little Lloyd, which contains a new will and testament from the dead Lloyd Sr. Along with its homespun appeal, the novel offers an interesting take on gender, race and family in the South; it's fast-paced and funny despite Ross's persistent asides to readers and reference to serious issues (the church's stance on homosexuality and abortion). In the end, Miss Julia's prim self-absorption gives way and she begins to "feel like a real person, saying what she was thinking instead of packing it down inside." Agent, Peter Miller/Delin Cormeny. Author tour. (July)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

When Hazel Marie Puckett and her nine-year-old son, Little Lloyd, show up on Julia Springer's doorstep in Abbotsford, North Carolina, Miss Julia receives the shock of her long and proper life. After 44 years of marriage to pillar-of-church-and-community Wesley Lloyd Springer, she discovers that while she had assumed he was working late at the family bank, he was engaged in other, more carnal, pursuits. For, as Hazel Marie shyly explains, Little Lloyd is Miss Julia's late husband's son. His arrival in Miss Julia's life sets off a chain of events that involves a hypocritical minister, a violent beating, a crooked televangelist, a high-speed car chase, a kidnapping, and a surprising revelation about her late husband's will. Miss Julia not only speaks her mind but also comes to a deeper understanding of the meaning of love, friendship, and trust. First novelist Ross loses control of her material here and there, veering between farce and soap opera, but this is a light and entertaining story, eminently suitable for Jan Karon fans. Nancy Pearl --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Ann is the mother of two daughters and one son, and the grandmother of four grandsons (including twin boys) and two granddaughters, both of whom are her namesakes. When her children were in college, she decided to complete her own education, enrolling in the University of North Carolina at Asheville where she earned a Bachelor's degree in Literature. Reluctant to return to an empty nest, she continued her education by enrolling in the English Department of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she earned both the Master's and Doctor of Philosophy degrees. Afterwards, she taught Literature and the Humanities at the University of North Carolina at Asheville.

Ann's writing career began in the early eighties when two mysteries were published as original paperbacks: THE MURDER CURE and THE MURDER STROKE. A few years later, her first hardcover book was published: THE PILGRIMAGE, an adventure story set in the nineteenth century. All three books are now out of print, but occasionally a used copy of THE PILGRIMAGE appears on Amazon.com for sale.

The publication of the first Miss Julia book, MISS JULIA SPEAKS HER MIND in 1999, set Ann on a full-time writing career. This book went through six reprintings in less than a year, and was ranked #9 on the Independent Booksellers' seventy-six most highly recommended books for 1999. In addition, the book was named to the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers list. The paperback edition of the same book was listed in The Best Books of the First Five Years by BookSense, as one of the titles independent booksellers most enjoyed handselling. The book was also published by Readers Digest Condensed Books, appearing in twelve foreign languages.

MISS JULIA TAKES OVER was one of seven nominees for the Book of the Year Award (2001) by the Southeastern Booksellers Association.

All of the books in the series are available on audiotape and in large-print editions, and are also available through The Literary Guild/Doubleday Book Club. All of the books, except the newest one each year, can be found in paperback editions.

MISS JULIA THROWS A WEDDING, MISS JULIA HITS THE ROAD, MISS JULIA MEETS HER MATCH, and MISS JULIA'S SCHOOL OF BEAUTY have all appeared on the New York Times Extended Bestseller List.

All of the books in the series will be published in German, Japanese, and Croatian editions, as well as on audiotape (in English) and in large print editions.

Inspiration for the escapades of Ann's much-loved character, Miss Julia, comes in all manner of ways -- a chance remark by a friend or family member, an incident she happens to see, in a dream, or by being reminded of something in her past experiences. It is always deeply satisfying to her when scenes in the book she is working on suddenly seem to fit together to make a good story. She does not outline or make detailed plans before starting a story. She does, however, have a general plot in mind before beginning to write, but this usually entails only the conflict and the final resolution, with few ideas of how they will be worked out. So, with just the beginning and the end of a book decided on, Ann relies on the characters themselves to fill in the middle with first one subplot after another. This, she says, is the joy of writing -- when a character suddenly does or says something unexpectedly, leading her to funny and surprising 'mini-scenes' that seem to delight readers.

Ann was once asked by an interviewer how she knew when something she'd written was good. She replied, "I know it's good when I fall off my chair laughing." From that response, we can be sure that she enjoys writing about her characters as much as we enjoy reading about them.

Customer Reviews

Witty, well written and great characters.
Miss Julia
This was such a fun book - got totally invested in the characters, especially Miss Julia.
Kathleen DeRosa
This book is a quick, entertaining read that will make you laugh out loud more than once.
Stephen

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

65 of 65 people found the following review helpful By Jan McGreger on August 24, 2001
Format: Paperback
This rip-snorter of a novel revolves around the mess Miss Julia inherited from her late husband, Wesley Lloyd -- bank president and pillar of the community. It seems that, unbeknownst to Miss Julia, Wesley Lloyd had fathered a child, a child who is subsequently left on her front porch by his mother who then disappeared. Miss Julia is bombarded by gossipmongering fellow parishioners from the Presbyterian Church, a pastor who is long on greed and ambition and short on sympathy and comfort, a televangelist with dollar signs in his eyes, and, well, Heavens, what is a woman to do? As Miss Julia reminds us readers many times over, she didn't ask for any of this! This knee-slapper is actually fairly accurate in its presentation of women "sheltered" by men, women who are "taken care of" and not allowed to "worry" about anything. The story is well paced and plotted and offers surprises and excitement. My book club was unanimous in its opinion -- this is a winner!
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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful By jennings2@ioa.com on July 14, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind represents the best of Southern humor--it's quirky, candid and offers keen observations on the social rules that govern life in a small town. While some have likened it to Jan Karon's Mitford books, I find it closer in tone to Michael Malone's Handling Sin or John Kennedy Toole's Confederacy of Dunces. Miss Julia has much more pepper than any of the Mitford residents I've come across, and her unveiling of hypocrisy spares no-one. Still, the novel is good-natured at its heart and the narrator's warmth and vitatility are what ultimately triumph.
For a fast-paced, hilarious and thoroughly fun summer read, this is the book to pick.
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful By luther d butler sr on August 24, 2000
Format: Paperback
"MISS JULIA SPEAKS HER MIND," pokes fun at every institution in the Old South from city officials, the clergy, and even the home and marriage. At the same time that the novel is poking fun, it is the funniest novel I have read in many a moon. Miss Julia is a terrific character who faces life head on and comes out on top of every situation. The church (Presbyterian) is pictured as a meddling money grabbing institution that uses modern medical knowledge along with the legal system to better its self. I especially liked the way Miss Julia handled her nymphomania! Some of the words I would use to describe this book are delightful, extremely humorous, tender, and a must read.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By K. Corn TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 7, 2001
Format: Paperback
I just finished this one and it was an absolute delight from start to finish. If you like Southern novels, you won't want to miss this one. Miss Julia absolutely seemed real, quirky, obstinate but also...at the beginning of the novel, at least... more than a bit naive. Married to a "pillar" of the community, a man with an impeccable reputation, Miss Julia has lived quite a contented, if somewhat restricted life, enjoying the luster of her husband's reputation and place in the community. This life came with a cost, however, as her husband controlled nearly every aspect of their life. When he suddenly dies, she is looking forward to some freedom, when she suddenly is faced with a major crisis. It seems that the man she thought she knew so well had a secret life and a child with another woman. Even worse, the child is deposited on her doorstep by his destitute mother, leaving Miss Juila not only in shock but with a nine year old child to deal with. From this beginning, the writer creates a funny, heartwarming and very engaging story of a woman who has to deal with the unexpected and with advice from her "friends" and even her minister (who is more than a bit self-interested) about how to handle her finances and her life. But what is most appealing about this book (besides the wonderful character, Miss Julia) is the very unique voice and writing style of the author.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Dagmarelga on December 13, 2001
Format: Paperback
Entertaining and light, this is a fast moving fun book to read. It tells the story of a sheltered southern lady who finds herself abruptly confronted with the harsh reality of her just deceased husband's mistress and son ,neither of whose existence had she ever suspected. Suddenly she must face the fallacy of her happy marriage of convenience and cope with the events that ensue. Her feisty nature and kindness win our hearts . Liberated by her new station in life, she discovers her hidden inner strength and her self reliance grows by leaps and bounds. A heavy subject for anyone, Ross makes the incredible believable in this imaginative plot with an interesting assortment of characters. Reminiscent of the final act of some plays, the complete cast of characters are brought together in the same room to interact in a grande finale scene. The outcome will surprise you. It is highly recommended you join Miss Julia and her new found friends on some wild adventures resulting from a very seriously soul wrenching life situation. I personally look forward to reading the sequel.
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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Antoinette Klein on November 29, 2001
Format: Paperback
Ann B. Ross writes in a soothing Southern cadence that has you undeniably falling in love with Miss Julia, her maid Lillian, and all the quirky characters that inhabit this small Southern town.
Miss Julia gets the shock of her life when not only the mistress of her late husband but also their illegitimate offspring suddenly appear at her door. Just when Miss Julia was getting on with her life and actually enjoying being free of the overbearing, pompous, and hypocritcal Wesley Lloyd Springer, his bleached blonde mistress and pathetic little son show up and change Miss Julia's life in ways she never expected. As she often reminds the reader, she never asked for any of this. But what she gets is heart-warming, fast-paced, and hysterically funny.
The story may be slightly far-fetched, but the characters are so typically Southern---from the unscrupulous and conniving pastor to the slick televangelist and the down-home lawyer--- that you'll fall in love with this unlikely mix of characters and delight in the ways they touch each other's lives.
I can't wait to read the sequel "Miss Julia Takes Over" cause I'm sure she will. She is forever telling us that if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself and I'm sure, like all Southern women, Miss Julia will do it just perfectly. So pour yourself a tall glass of lemonade, settle down on the front veranda, and listen to Miss Julia tell her story.
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