Monday, April 19, 2010

The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder


As I have mentioned before, one of my most favorite books of all time is The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood written by Rebecca Wells and so I was thrilled to be asked to read her latest novel, The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder and write a review.  Rebecca Wells is a gifted writer and there is something about the way she puts a sentence together that draws me in every time!

Calla Lily Ponder grows up in the small town of La Luna, Louisiana and she narrates her own story from when it began on the day she was born in 1953 until the book closes in 1984.  Over these years we hear from Calla Lily herself as her life unfolds.  When she is very little she describes her life and describes it with the perceptions of a little girl.  We feel the love and the tight bonds she has with her family but especially the special connection between her and her mother.  We are there as she grows up in her small town, meets and forms the friendships with her lifelong friends.  We are there as she moves through high school and throughout her teen age years.  And of course we are there when she falls in love.

Calla Lily Ponder realizes she has a “gift” for doing hair just like her Mother had.  She learns more than the basics from her Mother sitting at her side in her mother’s beauty shop and then goes to New Orleans after she graduates from high school to attend beauty school.  It is a coming of age story in many ways and a lot of the story is set in the 1970’s.  I got a kick out of all the fun references and descriptions of the fads and fashion of that time.  You can feel the heat and humidity of New Orleans and smell the beignets in the air.  Life, love, and loss are all here with more life and love thrown in.

While it is hard not to compare this latest novel from Rebecca Wells to her hugely successful “The Devine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood”, the books are really quite different.  Both books are set in the South, and the love and fun of the friendships between the women is delightful in both books, but for me, that is where the similarities end.  Heavier topics like the loss of a loved one and alcoholism make an appearance in both books but here in Calla Lily’s story, you do not have the gut-wrenching  sadness and grief nor the serious consequences that you find in “Divine Secrets”.  The deepness of the friendships and sense of connection that the women in the  Ya Ya’s had is quite different from what I felt reading The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder.  Calla Lily Ponder’s book is lighter.

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This book is what I would call a great “Beach read”.  And the book is now out in paperback just in time for packing in your vacation tote!  :)    So while the Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood swallowed me whole, The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder entertained me.  And sometimes that is just what the doctor ordered!  It’s a fun story, it makes you laugh, makes you shed a few tears, but in the end you feel like you really know Calla Lily Ponder and the world she lives in.   So to answer the questions of did I like the book and would I recommend it?????  I say YES to both!

Here are a couple of clips of Rebecca Wells herself telling us about her book The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder.


Are you part of a Book Club????    Book Club Girl is running a contest from now until October where  if your club is one of the fist 25 Book Clubs to commit  to reading Rebecca Wells’  new book “The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder”,  your group will win a King Cake to enjoy during your meeting from Randazzo’s Bakery in New Orleans!!!  Stop by Book Club Girl for more details.  Mmmmm……..


 Book Club Girl is also hosting a live on-air discussion with Rebecca Wells to discuss her book on May 5, 2010 at 7:00pm.  Mark your calendar and click HERE for more details.


Denise said...

I never read her first book but saw the movie! We have all our books picked for this years book club, but I will look in to her new one for next year possibly or just to read on my own :)

Melanie said...

I have never read the book or seen the movie:(

I don't know why either but I am glad that you got to review the book since you loved the first one so much!

ClassyGal said...
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ClassyGal said...

It's kind of ironic, because I was watching Sisterhood of the Ya Ya's the other day and loved it! This book will defnitely be on my reading list for the summer.

Norma Lee @ Norma Lee Good said...

I LOVE Rebecca Wells. I saw ya-ya before I read the book and I fell in love with her writing style. {in fact I would love to name my kid Baylor.}Thanks for the recommendation. I am so glad you liked it. There is nothing worse than getting excited about a book and then hearing it isn't that great.

Cozy Little House said...

Well how fun! Do you know somehow I've managed not to read the Ya-Ya book? Probably one of the few women left that hasn't.

trish said...

First, you have the best blog name ever.

Second, I'm stoked you liked the book! I think it's a riot that Calla is a hairdresser in the 1970s. Hehe!!

Thanks for being on this tour! Love your enthusiastic review. :)

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