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The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder: A Novel Paperback – Bargain Price, April 13, 2010

3.9 out of 5 stars 205 customer reviews

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Paperback, Bargain Price, April 13, 2010
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Wells (Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood) weaves more of the magic that made her a bestseller. At first, Calla Lily Ponder appears to be just like any other young woman growing up in the small town of La Luna, La., where life is simple and Calla Lily is supported by a loving, tightly knit family and a colorful cast of locals. But after a series of hometown heartbreaks, Calla Lily sets out for New Orleans to attend a prestigious beauty academy with dreams of one day opening her own salon. Calla Lily soon learns that while the Big Easy offers a fresh start, adventures and exhilarating new friends, it also presents its own set of tragedies and setbacks. The novel is chock-full of Southern charm and sassy wisdom, and despite its sugary sweetness, it benefits from a hearty dose of Wells's trademark charisma. Calla Lily's story may not be as involved or satisfying as that of the Ya-Yas, but she's sure to be a crowd-pleaser thanks to her humble aspirations, ever hopeful heart and perseverance no matter what fate throws at her. (July)
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.


“The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder will remind you of your first love and power of friendship. As the saying goes, ‘You’ll laugh, you’ll cry.’ But, really, you will.” (Real Simple)

“Calla Lily is a sweetie. . . . This is a novel full of miracles, with characters more colorful than a Crayola 64-crayon box. It’s just the right dose of Southern charm.” (Seattle Times)

“Many readers will recognize that all the characters . . . are creations of a literary goddess in her own right. . . . Down-to-earth and comforting . . . [A] good-hearted, wishful-thinking book.” (Washington Post)

“Wells writes genuinely about her native Louisiana. . . . It’s hard not to fall in love with the people in this magical place, where love is as plentiful as the dancing, gumbo and ice-cold Cokes. . . . A perfect beach read about mothers and friends and sisters.” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

“Charming and luminous . . . A perfect summer indulgence that’ll have you peeking out your window on a muggy night in search of the Moon Lady, who’ll wrap her nurturing arms around you from afar.” (Austin American-Statesman)

“Wells brings back the lush beauty of her birthplace. . . . Wide-eyed, big-hearted Calla has more faith than all the ya-yas put together. . . . As ever, the author’s strength lies in her ability to articulate the profound relationship between women.” (Miami Herald)

“Rebecca Wells spins a sweet Southern yarn about an aspiring beautician who overcomes tragedy to find love.” (Parade)

“Fans of Rebecca Wells’ tales of the ‘Ya-Ya Sisterhood’ will find themselves just as enchanted with this story full of Southern charm and lessons in life. . . . With wisdom and insight, Wells guides Calla on her path of self-discovery.” (Daytona Beach News-Journal)

“[A] heaping helping of sugar . . . [for] when you’re feeling nostalgic for a sugarcoated past.” (USA Today)

“Calla Lily Ponder is every bit as affable as her name suggests. . . . Expect high demand from loyal Ya-Yas fans, who have eagerly awaited a new work from Wells.” (Booklist)

“Told in Wells’ signature style . . . Rich in anecdote and atmosphere . . . This is easily a three-hanky read. . . . the lessons of hope and promises of healing will be a balm to many.” (Bellingham Herald)

“Fiction junkies packing for vacation can without hesitation place The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder into the juicy reading pile. There’s period drama, there’s romance, and there’s a lot of fabulous hair all wrapped in a vibrantly Southern package.” (North Kitsap Herald)

“Another exuberant tale of Louisiana women . . . who can resist those moonlit nights, those swimming holes, that delicious cochon de lait, the dreamy little Louisiana towns, the women who are larger than life? Wells weaves that magic spell again.” (New Orleans Times-Picayune)

“All readers will embrace the themes of second chances.” (Library Journal)

“Rebecca Wells has done it again. . . . A new book full of Southern charm and unique characters . . . impossible to put down. . . . Wells delivers characters that are distinct and realistic.” (Houston Chronicle)

“Wells’s larger-than-life characters are custom made for summer reading.” (The Independent Weekly)

“The latest novel by Rebecca Wells, the belle of Southern fiction. . . . is a satisfying coming-of-age tale in a place where the moon glows and the lemonade flows.” (Columbus Dispatch)

“Wells knows how to paint a picture of small-town life and the wide world beyond that pulls at the heartstrings. Ya-Ya fans are likely to go gaga over The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder.” (Deseret News)

“Pure Southern comfort, and [Wells] continues the tradition.” (New York Daily News)

“Rebecca Wells is a master of . . . women’s fiction. . . . The novel teaches us that even the worst decisions can be rescued and that approaching the world with love will heal any brokenness in our hearts.” (Winnipeg Free Press)

“Wells delights in small-town life. . . . She makes the enchantment of daily life seem as plain as daylight.” (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

“[Wells’] descriptions are so lush and lyrical it feels like you could step through the pages into the hot, humid landscape so shaped by the Mississippi River.” (Denver Post)

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; 1 Reprint edition (April 13, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060930624
  • ASIN: B004IK9FK4
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (205 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,790,294 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I was shocked when I logged in and read all of the terrible reviews of this book. Really, truly shocked! I completely connected with the characters in the story and I loved the way it was written. I criend harder than I have ever cried in a book (and I'm not someone who cries when I'm reading...) and I was uplifed by the positive messages throughout the story. I was reminded of my oh-so-wise and wonderful late grandmother who spoke just the way this book was written. I loved "The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder" and I hope many others give it a try. I found it to be a truly wonderful book!
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Format: Hardcover
Having read the Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood and enjoying that thoroughly, I really expected better of The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder. J. D. Rowan's review says most of what I want to say about lack of story development and characterization in this novel. As I was preparing to write my review, I saw that someone said Rebecca Wells was suffering from Lyme disease while writing this novel. If that's the reason this book is so poorly written, then it's the fault of the publisher and/or editor for not waiting for rewrites. This book may have lost Rebecca Wells many fans. I know I'm one.

This novel is like a first written manuscript with no editing. It's a surface told story--there's no depth to the characters, plot, storyline, etc. Major incidents are thrown into the storyline, allowing the reader to believe that, for example, racism is a huge part of the story; however, that's never discussed again. The story is told, not shown, and the reader has a difficult time getting through the book. If I hadn't purchased this book based on Wells' previous novel, I wouldn't finish reading it.
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Format: Hardcover
Anyone else who loved the Ya-Yas understands how excited I was to see a new novel by Rebecca Wells. I dove right in and was prepared to love any character created by the author who brought us Vivi and Sidda. But I wasn't two chapters in before I was scratching my head trying to figure out what on earth I was reading. It reads like a middle-school girl trying to imitate Rebecca Wells' writing style, and not in a good way. About the crappy editing- there is a difference between editing the copy and editing the STORY, and it doesn't appear that there was much of either going on. I can live with typos, as annoying as they are - but we are introduced to a character in a later chapter that we already met back in chapter 2, but they're described as if for the first time. It's the same with situations and the characters' histories. So you're reading along thinking "I KNOW this already." Aside from that, there are so many details that are irrelevant and distracting and have nothing to do with the point (whatever it was.) Plus, I never felt as if I cared whether I kept reading or not. I gave up a third of the way in. As I was stuck in a cross-country flight at the time with plenty of time on my hands, that's saying a lot. Don't bother with this one.
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Format: Hardcover
God to dear God, what is with all the negative reviews? I rented this book on CD from the library, narrated by the incomparable Judith Ivey, and fell completely addictively in love with it. Now I want to own it for myself, and don't give a hoot for Ya-Ya fanaticism. To be fair, I didn't read those books, but hated the movie--that's not fair, I know, so I will have to take your advice.

All I know is that this is a beautiful story about a woman who overcomes all sorts of obstacles while various forces keep her apart from the true love of her life. At the same time, there is heart, humor, acceptance, and secondary joy that could nearly have become primary if not for the soap operatic twists and turns involved here.

Slap me with a stupid stick, but I loved Sweet even when I was angry with Tuck for something that was obviously not his fault, already knowing he'd show up again. I loved these beautiful, rich, gracious characters, and Calla Lily had the grace of a saint to deal with all she went through. This book is an enviably written treasure as I am a struggling (and I mean STRUGGLING!) writer, and some people would rather have romantically nostalgic fluff than some kanker sore inducing vomit produced by a genuinely horrible author like Danielle Steele. Now you naysayers must admit this is several notches above that! M'Dear taught Calla Lily to use an inherent gift, and her father taught her that fathers can be great friends. How many of us can say that much? More than that, this book gives silly, idealistic me the idea that true love never dies under any circumstances. This book is a treasure, and it's too bad so few of us recognize it. That's alright. It's one worth holding dear.
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Format: Hardcover
Okay, I enjoyed The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. This book, however, is a waste of time. Wells breaks the basic rule of good story telling. She tells the reader what happens without ever showing any characterization, motivation, emotion, or anything except page after page of comically rapid plot development. Consequently, the book reads like a high school freshman's essay on "My Imaginary Life." When the title character shows up for her wedding she is greated by a brass fanfare, and when her husband carries her over the threshold of their new home her friends have already put everything away and she doesn't even have to unpack. These type of events appear almost on every page and are almost always followed by an exclamation point to show just how gosh-gee-whiz wonderful life is!

The main character suffers through three traumatic events, but somehow everything keeps coming up roses. We don't know why, because all the characters in the book are completely one-dimensional stock figures. Several characters are introduced for absolutely no reason. Cally Lily didn't really need two brothers -- they did nothing for the book. Moreover, we even learn the name of the oldest brother's wife, but she never appears again.

The editing was slapdash. First Calla Lily is saving up to live in New Orleans for three months for beauty school, yet within a few chapters beauty school suddenly lasts for a year. She puts her drunken best friend to bed to sleep it off and on the next page she wraps her in a quilt to sleep on the floor. The description and explanation of the Catholic marriage ceremony was both anachronistic and incorrect at the same time.

It was truly a terribly written book. I only finished it so that I could write this review!
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