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Bound South: A Novel Paperback – February 10, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
White's wonderful debut charts the clash of Southern tradition with present-day issues from the perspective of three white females over the years of 1998–2008: Louise Parker, a frustrated, pampered matron living in an affluent Atlanta neighborhood; Caroline, her rebellious teenage daughter; and Missy Meadows, the young daughter of Louise's impoverished housekeeper, Faye. While Missy yearns to reconnect with her father who abandoned the family to become a preacher and Christian TV soap star, Caroline embarks on a scandalous affair during her senior year with Frederick Staunton, her high school drama teacher, and they run off to San Francisco. The relationship fizzles, but Caroline chooses not to come home; back in Georgia, Missy and Charles, Louise's gay son, make a fateful journey to Durham, N.C., to surprise Missy's father. White's wit and graceful prose yield sharp insights about family, friendship and faith in the ever-changing South. (Feb.)
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Louise Parker is a classic southern belle. Well-dressed and well-mannered, she can’t help but be frustrated by her daughter. Wild Caroline goes to a strict Christian prep school where she cheats in math class and can only focus on becoming an actress, until she has to leave after she’s discovered in flagrante delicto with her drama teacher. In the meantime Louise is distracted by Missy, the daughter of her housekeeper, a born-again evangelical who assists her mother in between trying to convert Louise’s gay son. Despite the consequences of Caroline’s behavior, Louise finds herself wishing she could be as careless and wondering how her life would have turned out had she chosen a different path. Even with their differences, Louise’s thoughts eventually lead her to believe that Caroline may be more of a southern dame and Louise more of a rebel than either of them thought. An elaborate, generation-spanning southern tale of family life in the vein of Rebecca Wells. --Hilary Hatton
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Top Customer Reviews
I had so much fun reading it that I was not ready for it to be over. I wanted to know more about Tiny and Louise, and what happened to Nanny Rose between the beginning and end of the book, and what about Charles? And Caroline? Oh Susan White, you are going to need to write some companion novels to this book.
Two things I especially liked about Bound South:
1- Unexpected plot twists that were totally in keeping with the Old South/New South feel of the book, but also totally unexpected anyway. And often very funny.
2- The characters' revelations and generalizations about the South and Southerners, many of which were utterly fresh and unheard of by this voracious reader of Southern lit, but dead-on accurate. Example near the end of the book, and I won't spoil it by giving out the whole quote, but it's at Houston's, when Tiny explains how the Old South has not died out. Bingo.
Great book! Give us more, Ms. White!
The story switches back and forth between the first-person voices of three women: Louise Parker's creativity and individuality are hindered by the expectations of her as an affluent Southern matron. Louise quietly envies the greater freedom and opportunities open to her teenage daughter, Caroline, who seems overwhelmed by it all. And Louise's unexpected involvement in the life of Missy, her housekeeper's evangelical daughter, adds an "Upstairs, Downstairs" element to the tale.
"Bound South" is funny and charming, a compelling page-turner that's surprisingly moving towards the end. While it subverts the south's old pretenses, it also celebrates what's best in its changing culture.