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Miss Julia Stirs Up Trouble: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Ann B. Ross
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (192 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The perfect next course in the New York Times–bestselling series—plus dozens of recipes from Abbotsville’s best cooks

Autumn’s crisp bite is in the air, but Miss Julia soon discovers that, alas, leaves aren’t the only things falling. James, Hazel Marie’s housekeeper, has taken a nasty tumble down some stairs. How can Hazel Marie feed and take care of him—not to mention a husband, son, and twin baby girls—when she barely knows how to boil water? Miss Julia promptly organizes the ladies of Abbotsville to give Hazel Marie cooking lessons. But before she can relax, Hazel Marie’s shady preacher-uncle turns up—just as Miss Julia learns that James has roped young Lloyd into an Internet scam!

Filled with mayhem, delicious recipes, and plenty of steel-magnolia-style action, Miss Julia Stirs Up Trouble is a feast from cover to cover.

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Ann B. Ross holds a doctorate in English from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and has taught literature at the University of North Carolina, Asheville. She lives in Hendersonville, North Carolina.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter 1

Stepping carefully onto the newly sodded patches of grass at the side of the house, I stood by a hydrangea bush for a few minutes, admiring the graceful lines of my new Williamsburg chimney. Reassured that it was worth what it had cost to have it, I strolled across the lawn to the arbor near the back fence. After brushing dried leaves from the bench, I sat down to revel in the glorious October day. I marveled at the clear, blue sky—Carolina blue, as Lloyd called it—and the molten gold leaves of the gingko tree on the edge of Mildred’s lawn next door. A light breeze ruffled through the almost leafless wisteria vine overhead, as a feeling of peace and gratitude for our blessings filled my soul. All the carpenters, painters, paperhangers, plumbers, and brick masons were long gone, leaving us with a remodeled and redecorated house. Well, not the whole house, but three rooms had been remodeled and redecorated. Even better, extra furnishings, like the bedroom rug, which had been rolled into a stumbling block in the hall, were out of the house and the mattress was off the dining room table and back on our bed where it belonged. My house had been returned to its ordered self, and at least for these few minutes, all seemed right with the world.

Sam, my darling husband—acquired late in life, but all the more precious because of it—was home from his travels, working now in his new office in the old sunroom upstairs and loving it. “The best and most efficient office I’ve ever had, Julia,” he’d told me, but I think that was because I’d had the foresight to put in the semblance of a tiny kitchen in a closet—a coffeepot and an under-the-counter refrigerator so he didn’t have to tromp downstairs every time he wanted something to drink. The hall bathroom was right next door, too.

And Lloyd. My heart lifted as I thought of the boy foisted on me by my deceased first husband by way of a long- term adulterous situation, the boy who had become the center of my life. In spite of the fact that his mother was now well and truly married to Mr. Pickens—an event I’d almost despaired of ever happening— Lloyd didn’t seem eager to leave my house for theirs. He was still in and out, spending the school week with Sam and me and most weekends with his mother and Mr. Pickens four blocks away in Sam’s old house. I worried a little that the odd arrangement would warp his character but, on the other hand, having two homes with two helpings of being loved and wanted couldn’t be harmful. Both apprehensive and excited, he’d started his first year of high school and now, after a couple of months, he was finding that a quick intelligence and a sunny disposition were making a place for him. I couldn’t help but notice that he was still smaller and, in spite of his usual serious demeanor, younger-seeming than his classmates, many of whom were on the verge of manhood with their husky physiques and voices. And, actually, he was younger, for Hazel Marie had let him skip a grade before they came to live with me. Yet I had no worries about Lloyd fitting in. He was making new friends and meeting the new challenges set by his teachers. He was the joy of my life and, as I thought of him, I knew that at least for this moment in time, all was right with him and with the world.

Hazel Marie had her challenges as well, and to my constant amazement, considering the fact that she’d had such a disreputable background to overcome, she was meeting them head on. Who would have ever thought that the overpainted woman who’d flounced up to my door, bastard son by her side, announcing to me and the world what Wesley Lloyd Springer had been doing before he passed over, would turn out to be a sweet and valued friend, as well as an accepted member of Abbotsville society, such as it was?

Those twin baby girls—born, I am happy to say, firmly within wedlock—took almost all her time, but she would have it no other way. I had made the mistake of suggesting within Latisha’s hearing that she employ a nanny or, at least, an au pair to give her a rest from the constant demands. Hazel Marie rejected the suggestion— she couldn’t turn her babies over to anyone else—but Latisha decided that when she grew up she wanted to be either an au pair, once she learned what an au pair was, or a rock star. Lillian just rolled her eyes at her little great-grand.

Mr. J. D. Pickens, an erstwhile rambling man, seemed as contented as I’d ever known him to be, or as a freelance private investigator can be. I’d fretted a little about Hazel Marie’s devotion to those babies, fearful that he’d feel left out, which I understand can occur when a wife is too busy or too tired to address her marital duties. When I carefully broached the subject to Hazel Marie, she assured me that Mr. Pickens lacked nothing in that department, and from what I can tell by the smug look on his face, she wasn’t wrong. James, who’d looked after Sam for years before our marriage disrupted their cozy nest, is still with the Pickens family and, though he and I have a prickly relationship, I’m grateful that their kitchen is in good hands, which means that no one is going hungry. James rarely turns his hands in the rest of the house, but with playpens and toys and strollers and high chairs strewn everywhere, there’s not much he can do in the way of keeping a neat house.

I leaned my head back against the bench, thinking with deep pleasure about my loved ones, safe and thriving and prospering— all was, indeed, right with my world.

“Miss Julia!” I looked up to see Lillian waving a dishrag at me from the back stoop. “Miss Hazel Marie wants you!”

I came to my feet and hurried to the house. It wasn’t like Lillian to yell across the yard, so one drastic image after another flashed through my mind.

“What is it?” I gasped, my heart pounding by the time I reached her. “Is it Lloyd? The babies?”

“Neither one,” Lillian said, her eyes big. “They jus’ take James to the hospital.”

“Oh, my word.” I flew to the telephone and picked it up. “Hazel Marie? What happened?”

“He fell, Miss Julia!” Hazel Marie’s voice was filled with panic. “Down the stairs on the side of the garage, you know, coming down from his apartment. I was so scared I didn’t know what to do, but thank goodness J.D. was here. He called the EMTs, and he just called me from the emergency room. James’s right wrist or hand or something is broken so he has to have a cast. And he sprained his ankle, too, but they just wrapped it up.” She stopped and took a deep breath with a catch of fear beneath it. “I thought he’d killed himself.”

“But he’s all right?” I asked. “I mean, other than that?”

“J.D.’s bringing him home, so I guess so. I’m putting him in the back bedroom because he can’t go up and down the stairs anytime soon, and I’ll feel better having him close by. He can’t even walk by himself, Miss Julia.”

“Oh, my. But they’ll give him some crutches, won’t they?”

“J.D. said he can’t use them because the cast practically covers his hand. Oh, the poor thing—we’re all so upset over it.”

They were going to be upset over more than that, I thought, when Hazel Marie, the world’s most inept cook, had to take James’s place in the kitchen.

It just goes to show that when you have a few minutes to glory in everything being right with the world, you’d better enjoy them while you can. It’s never long before something comes along to turn your world inside out and upside down again.

“We better take supper to ’em,” Lillian said, opening the freezer door. “Sound like nobody fit to do any cookin’ over there, so good thing I got enough pork chops to go ’round.”

“Yes, thank you, Lillian. I’ll run up and tell Sam about James.”

“He already know,” Lillian said, just as I heard Sam’s footsteps on the stairs. “He pick up the phone same time I did.”

I went to meet him in the hall, knowing that he’d be concerned. James had been with Sam for years before we married and Sam thought the world of him, even though James got a little more averse to work every year that passed. Still, they’d gotten along well until Sam had brought me into the mix. There was no way in the world I would’ve put up with James’s languid attitude toward getting things done. I’d once heard him tell Lillian that he enjoyed work, so much so that he could sit and look at it all day long. So it had been arranged for James to stay with the Pickens family when they took up residence in Sam’s house. I didn’t want him underfoot at my house and James didn’t want me pointing out work to him.

“Hazel Marie said they’re bringing him home,” I said as I met Sam at the foot of the stairs, “so he must not be too bad off. Are you going over?”

“Yes, I better see about him. I’ll tell you the truth, Julia— James is not an easy patient. The year he had the fl u—a really bad case of it, too—I was up and down the stairs all day and half the night taking care of him.” Sam smiled as he remembered. “I made the mistake of rigging up a bell that would ring in the house when he needed something. They’re going to have their hands full with him.”

“I doubt Mr. Pickens will be as compliant as you, and I expect James will find that out soon enough. Anyway, tell Hazel Marie that we’re bringing supper so she doesn’t have to wor...

Product Details

  • File Size: 621 KB
  • Print Length: 369 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0670026107
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (April 9, 2013)
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #88,008 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Delightful Story and a Cookbook Rolled into One April 9, 2013
This is the 14th book in Ann B. Ross' delightful Miss Julia Series. Just as Miss Julia is taking a moment to pause and count her blessings, all manner of chaos breaks loose in the Pickens' household. James, housekeeper and cook, falls breaking his arm and spraining his ankle. Hazel Marie's Uncle Vern shows up, claiming poor health and begging a place to stay from his only relatives; and J. D. is spotted around town with different women in his car. Hazel Marie, already busy with twin baby girls, is struggling with the full household. Of course, Miss Julia takes it upon herself to remedy the situation in her usual comic manner. With James unable to cook, Miss Julia worries that the Pickens family will starve, so she gathers recipes from friends to share with struggling cook Hazel Marie. Recipes are shared at the end of each chapter.

I enjoyed this installment in Ross' humorous Southern fiction series, set in North Carolina. I read the first 13 books straight through, finishing late last year, and opening this book was like a chance to sit back down with good friends I haven't seen in a while. I laughed out loud while reading! Personally, I would have enjoyed more Miss Julia & Co. and fewer recipes, but the story was great, and Miss Julia's comments at the end of each recipe are quite entertaining. While this would be a good story and good cookbook read alone, reading this series in order (Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind is first) would be my recommendation, as the characters develop and change so much throughout.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Huge disappointment April 11, 2013
Having read all of the previous Miss Julia books, I was counting the days until the release of this latest book. As hard as it is to say, I am very disappointed in Miss Julia Stirs Up Trouble. There seemed to be very little plot to the story and what little plot there was, it was interrupted by all the recipes. I enjoyed seeing the recipes and will, in fact, try a few, but I would rather they had been collected at the end of the book and replaced with a more developed story. I hope this book does not foreshadow a decline in the quality of future Miss Julia books. Please bring back Miss Julia's hilarious adventures.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
With a house full of people that need to be taken care of - not to mention twin babies! - Hazel Marie is about at the end of her rope. Miss Julia decides that compiling a cookbook featuring easy to prepare recipes from those closest to Hazel Marie would make a useful gift. But even as the project gets underway, Miss Julia fears that there's something very wrong going on at the Pickens house. Naturally, she wouldn't dream of interfering, but sometimes you just have to do a little judicious snooping in order to lend a hand. Miss Julia would be quick to inform you that, under certain circumstances, this is quite necessary and is not at all the same thing as prying into someone else's personal affairs. Well, not really.

As much as this is one of my all-time favorite series, I wasn't too enthusiastic about this installment. The first half of the book is taken up with various series regulars demonstrating recipes, followed by the actual recipe itself. It's not until about the 50% mark that the storyline actually kicks in, and the book started to feel like a "real" Miss Julia installment instead of a between-the-books novella.

Now I know that these books have never been particularly plot-driven; they are character studies (and excellent ones, I might add), but usually we're introduced to a bit of a mystery or "purpose" that gives these wonderful characters something to do. I felt this was lacking in this installment.

Was I sorry I read this? Of course not! It had its entertaining moments, with the usual fine characterization and Miss Julia's witty and insightful narrative. There were some very humorous moments and some trademark "Julia-isms" (as I've come to call Miss Julia's various words of wisdom).
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A short story with recipes April 11, 2013
By Gus
Format:Kindle Edition
Way to many recipes in this book! The story itself is very good, what there is of it. If I wanted a community cookbook I would purchase one. I was disappointed that the author chose to pad the book with recipes rather than add more to the story.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed August 2, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I have read all of the Miss Julia books so I am a big fan but this one disappointed. While I loved reading about the characters again, I really missed the "whodunit" aspect of the other books. And I really don't want another book with more recipes in it. That is really just not the appeal for me in Miss Julia. I hope that the next one returns to the usual format or that Miss Julia retires to Florida!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Miss Julia Stirs Up Trouble April 25, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I was delighted with the recipes included in this novel. The story of Miss Julia and her family are a pleasure. Even though they have their troubles, the reader is fairly certain the resolution of those troubles will be acceptable and come out the way we want. It is easy to picture in our minds Miss Julia and her escapades, often feeling we are right there in the room with them.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oh, Miss Julia! April 22, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I love reading the Miss Julia books. They are light and fun and for some reason she reminds me of my own grandmother whom I lost years ago. Being from the South also probably creates the propensity for my delight in her antics. A good read.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Ann B Ross stirred up another great one
all the Miss Julia books are great reads; this one, no exception; most enjoyable
Published 9 days ago by Dolores OMalley
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I was very happy with the condition of the book. Thank you.
Published 14 days ago by Joan West
1.0 out of 5 stars I only used one star to be able to explain ...
I only used one star to be able to explain that I have not read the book and do not intend to read it. I ordered this book for my sister. Read more
Published 14 days ago by Barbara E. Farnsworth
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
very good book -enjoy Miss Julia's antics.
Published 24 days ago by Shirely Talley
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Ann B. Ross has Miss Julia down pat!
Published 26 days ago by Kenneth R. Woodard
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved the idea of the cookbook
A cookbook and a story all in one. It kept me busy writing off recipes and putting in a self-stick photo album. I plan to try some of the recipes. Read more
Published 1 month ago by squiresj
4.0 out of 5 stars Miss Julia Is At It Again
The Miss Julia series of books are new to me and I am enjoying getting to know Miss Julia and the other characters. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Edie
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best in the series
"Miss Julia Stirs up Trouble" by Ann B. Ross.

Miss Julia is on the ball trying her best to help Hazel Marie with the twins and assisting with James who is barely... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Ellen Rappaport
5.0 out of 5 stars you will love Miss Julia books
If you are Southern, from a small town(or always wanted to be), and have a sense of humor, you will love Miss Julia books!
Published 1 month ago by C. Hammock-cobb
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Miss Julia, as usual was very entertaining!
Published 1 month ago by Jess
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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 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.


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.

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