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The Oleander Sisters Paperback – July 29, 2014

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Editorial Reviews


"Hussey tells a beautiful story of redemption filled with strong female characters and rich in detail." -Booklist on The Sweetest Hallelujah

About the Author

Elaine Hussey is a writer, actress, and musician who likes to describe herself as “southern to the bone.” She lives in Mississippi, where her love of blues and admiration for the unsung heroes of her state’s history served as inspiration for The Sweetest Hallelujah. Visit her at

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Harlequin MIRA (July 29, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0778316432
  • ISBN-13: 978-0778316435
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,208,727 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Leigh Neely on July 29, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
I received a copy of this book in exchange for a honest review. And honestly, I loved it. It a wonderful book filled with Southern charm and warm and welcoming as warm banana bread with hot coffee.

Four women are featured prominently in the book, and they are magnificent. First we get to know Beth Blake, the stalwart protector of her disjointed family, Emily Blake, the single mother of the delightful Andy, Sweet Mama, the grandmother who raised the girls after their parents died, and Beulah, who came to help when Sweet Mama was a young bride and became an integral member of the little group.
Needless to say, Biloxi, MS, is hot in the summer. Humidity and heat are summer companions every year in this area. Beth, who is called Sis by everyone, is carrying heavy loads this summer. Emily is engaged to a man that Sis feels is deceitful in every way. But Emily, who has gone through the pain of a pregnancy at sixteen and raising her son alone, is thrilled to think she’ll have a normal family and Andy will have a father. Add to that, Sweet Mama’s is showing signs of memory loss and is desperate to keep her bossy son Steve from putting her in a nursing home.
As with most Southern tales, food figures prominently in this story, especially Sweet Mama’s special Amen cobbler. With a sweet mixture of peaches and cherries, it’s baked every day at the café, and people travel long ways to enjoy a dish of it. When Sweet Mama’s husband deserted her and her two sons, she decided she’d use her skill with pastry to open a bakery. With Beulah’s help, that little bakery eventually became Sweet Mama’s Café, serving crispy fried chicken, fluffy mashed potatoes, and light-as-air biscuits along with Amen pie for dessert.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Dave Astle VINE VOICE on October 12, 2014
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Oh dear. This is going to be an extremely unpopular review. I got this book after seeing all of the 4 and 5 star reviews, figuring it had to be good with the ratings it had. So, I vehemently disagree with every other review of this book.
I got 25 pages in and was so ready to quit reading. The insipid metaphors, the unnecessarily flowery language, everything about the writing annoyed me. I went back and read those 4 and 5 star reviews and thought it must get better so I kept reading. I got to page 73 and to this paragraph:
"Emily dug through the flaky crust and into a mixture of peaches and cherries so deep she could see her future. The sweetness of love long denied wafted around her, and the joy of having a real family of her own."
What? This doesn't even make sense. Don't try to make the language so colorful that the reader can't even get what you're trying to say.
I kept reading, torturing myself, hating nearly every word, until I got to page 87.
"If rage were a country, Sis would be China."
Now, I understand what the author is trying to say but that doesn't mean that this makes sense. If the author didn't try so hard, writing such unnecessarily complicated and convoluted prose, I think the book could have been okay, As it is, I gave up. I couldn't make it past China.
I prefer literary fiction, I'm okay with some chic lit, but this is the worst thing I have read in a long, long time.
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Format: Paperback
The year is 1969. The winds of change blow throughout American society. No one is immune to the immense and turbulent history that is playing itself out on the news everyday. In Biloxi, a couple of other storms are brewing --- one called Hurricane Camille and the other called the Oleander sisters. In Elaine Hussey’s new novel, storms of all kinds threaten the sisters. Which one are they strong enough to put down?

Beth “Sis” Blake and Emily Blake are sisters. Sis is the overwhelmingly charitable and caring family guardian and caretaker. She carries all the family’s eons of secrets and the source of all their happiness with her as she selflessly puts all other desires and needs in front of her own. Emily is everybody’s sweetheart, a pretty girl with a personality to match and a five-year-old son named Andy in tow. She is due to marry someone she doesn’t love, a man named Larry Chastain, in order to set right the waywardness she had enacted in her past. As surely as Neil Armstrong put one foot on the moon, the Oleander sisters are in need of a breakthrough, a way to escape these ragged reputations and find a new life.

Sis is wise, too. She seems to be the only member of the large and attenuated Blake family who knows that Larry is not the be-all and end-all for Emily and Andy. With a mysterious past himself and a temper that rages like a hurricane at the most inopportune times, Larry is not a savior. It is up to Sis to find a way to make sure that everyone sees it as well and that Emily does not walk into a first-rate mistake upon marriage.

Since this is the South, there are a LOT of other people in the family, but two have particular issues that plague the sisters throughout their personal turmoils.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By rhonda on July 29, 2014
Format: Paperback

This is not your everyday romance novel from Harlequin. It is a powerful novel in a lot of ways. Deals with strong woman characters. With abuse, single mothers, dreams, natural disaster, hurricane Camille.

The setting for this book is 1969 in Biloxi, Mississippi.

They watch man step onto the moon and it makes a little boy dream of building a rocket out of boxes and going to the moon. Andy is only five. He is darling and will still your heart. I love all the people helping him dream.

Emily Blake got pregnant in high school. The father ran off to war instead of doing what is right. Now she is engaged to be married and her son will have a new father. She has taken over a lot of the baking and cooking at the café now.

Beth "Sis" Blake is the oldest of the three children. After their parents were killed in a car accident they were raised by their grandma. Beth is a plain woman and never expects to get married. She is their taking care of her family.

Jim comes home wounded from the war. Mentally and physically. He is Emily's twin.

Sweet Mama owns a pie shop & café. Her husband left her to raise her own sons. Then she raised her grandchildren. Now she is forgetting things and trying to hide it.

Beulah is her best friend for years. Her husband brought her home to be a maid before the depression. They have lots of secrets over the years. She loves the Blake family and will do anything for them.

This book is full of drama, secrets, and love for each other as they go through trials in their lives.

This is my first book I have read of Elaine Hussey but I would read another book from her based on this book.

I was given this ebook to read by Net Galley and Harlequin. In return I agreed to give a honest review of it.
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