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Southern Comfort


What to Read In March


Cassandra King has a new one out called  Queen of Broken Hearts It’s about a divorce coach who is leery of ever falling in love again. If you’re a Southerner you probably also know that King is the wife of Pat Conroy. Her new novel opens in Fairhope, Alabama, home to Page and Palette and Over the Transom bookstore. (Page and Palette is mentioned. There’s also a character named Son. Could this be a nod to Over Transom owner Sonny Brewer?) Dorothea Benton Frank, Sandra Brown and Fannie Flagg give the novel raves.


Here’s the excerpt.


One of my favorite authors, Tawni O’Dell has a new release Sister Mine. As the title may or may not suggest, O’Dell writes about coal miners, which would ordinarily be about as interesting to me a book about lint.


But her prose, storytelling and voice is sooo wonderful. I’m desperately disappointed that I couldn’t find an excerpt to show you how great O’Dell is. But here’s an excerpt from a previous novel to demonstrate that O’Dell has got the chops.


One of the most disturbing and compelling novels I’ve ever read was Lionel Shriver’s  We Need to Talk About Kevin.  Shriver’s latest is  Post-Birthday World. The main character is tempted to cheat on her husband and the author presents a two-pronged narrative of what happened when she stayed faithful and what might of happened if she strayed. It’s sort of high-brow Sliding Doors. All the major reviewers are raving. No excerpt, dang it. I really wanted a taste.


Imagine losing your fiancé’s six-year-old daughter in the split second your attention is diverted. That’s the premise of The Year of Fog, by Michelle Richmond. I’m pretty sure this sample chapter will reel you in. Love the spare prose. Reviews are wunderbar, and include a starred Library Journal. Michelle is originally from Alabama.


Susan Coll writes a witty send-up on the college admission process in Acceptance. Looks fun but I couldn’t find an excerpt or even a web site. Reviews are good.


Tara Ison writes a darkly comic novel called The List about a couple with a rocky relationship. They make a list of ten things they want to do before they break up for good. The list becomes progressively dysfunctional. Sounds like an intriguing premise. No excerpt available.


Much loved Anne Lamott has an essay collection out called  Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith revealing a more mellow side of the writer.


 Helpless by Barbara Gowdy is about child abduction. (Hence the hints of Lovely Bones in the cover). No excerpt but with two starred reviews this one may be worth looking into.


The God of Animals (a Books Sense pick) is about a poor rancher girl who is exposed to a world of wealth and privilege when her family boards horses. Here’s a snippet.


Naked on the Page a non-fiction offering by San Francisco Chronicle columnist Janet Ganahl chronicles middle-aged dating (almost an oxymoron and book I could have written myself) Kirkus calls it “Carrie Bradshaw meets AARP.”


I mentioned Spellman Files, by Lisa Lutz before about a quirky family who owns a detective agency. This has “big book” written all over it with the tons of foreign rights sold and movies rights optioned. There’s a sample chapter when you click on the first link.






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