Performed, not read, by the author is the key here. This highly spirited interpretation of the cult classic is, like the book, full of humor and surprises. It captures with ease the powerful lifelong friendship between four Southern women, the Ya-Ya's: Vivi, Teensy, Caro, and Necie. The author endows each of her charming characters with an inimitable Southern accent, from a low rumble for the aging oxygen-tank-carrying Caro, to the fresh innocent voice of Vivi as a child. The story moves back and forth from present to past when Vivi's daughter, Sidda, is faced with a crisis and is given the golden opportunity to explore the history of these devoted pals through her mother's secret scrapbook. Her journey is sprinkled with her own memories of her irrepressible and irresistible mother, and she is rewarded with glimpses of true love and loyalty against an often hilarious and poignant backdrop of life in the rural South.
Some favorite scenes, anecdotes, and the rich bayou background are not included on this abridged audiocassette, but fans of this special sisterhood will nonetheless enjoy listening to the author's take on the world of Thornton, Louisiana, and the female friendships she created there. (Running time: 3 hours, 2 cassettes) --Anne Depue
From Publishers Weekly
Carrying echoes of both Fannie Flagg and Pat Conroy, Wells's second novel continues the story of Siddalee Walker, introduced in Little Altars Everywhere (1992). When Sidda asks her mother, the aging belle Vivi, for help in researching women's friendships, Vivi sends her daughter a scrapbook. From this artifact of Vivi's own lifelong friendship with three women collectively known as "the Ya-Ya's," and from Sidda's response to it, a story unfolds regarding a dark period in Vivi and Sidda's past that plagues their present relationship. While anecdotes about the Ya-Ya's (such as the riotous scene at a Shirley Temple look-alike contest) are often very amusing, the narrative is beset by superficial characterization and forced colloquialisms. Told through several narrative vehicles and traveling through space and time from Depression-era Louisiana to present-day Seattle, this novel attempts to wed a folksy homespun tale to a soul-searching examination of conscience. But while Wells's ambition is admirable and her talent undeniable, she never quite makes this difficult marriage work. $50,000 ad/promo; author tour. (May) FYI: HarperPerennial will publish the paperback edition of Little Altars Everywhere, which won the Western States Book Award, in May.
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