Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove

I am trying to work through a seriously large library stack this month. I am thinking that even though the holidays are here and I have a few more errands to run and different things to get ready for, I also have two entire weeks off of school. While my husband hinted that the house will sure look clean with that much free time for me, I am not thinking along those same lines. Yes, I will try to pick up more and get a few little projects done, but I love getting to stay up later reading, or wake up with a whole day in front of me to read on and off in between laundry and cooking and cleaning. This week I have been very productive in my reading even though I still had school.
The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove, Susan Gregg Gilmore's sophomore novel, was a fabulous overnight read. This entire week I have managed to read fairly late at night, wake up early in the morning, and finish off the book I started just the evening before. I have had this one waiting for me for a while, and am happily returning it to the library today.
Bezellia Grove is named after the first Bezellia Louise, who is part of the story of how Nashville was formed generations ago. As the fifth generation Bezellia, she has a lot to live up to - being from such a prominent family in Nashville. Her mother is grooming her to coordinate charity events and have lunch at the country club. However, Bezellia's family, despite their outward appearance, is quite dysfunctional. Her mother drinks all day long and has had to spend time in a rehab facility from time to time. Her father, a doctor, spends long hours at the hospital where he works. Bezellia's younger sister Adelaide seems a little off and their mother is often trying to "fix" her youngest child. Despite her mother's dreams for her, Bezellia has different ideas about what she wants with her life.
This is a true Southern novel, and Bezellia's family has two African Americans in their employ: Nathaniel and Maizelle. These two help guide Bezellia on her road to womanhood and offer her stability and love. When Bezellia falls in love with Nathaniel's son, Samuel, she dreams of being together one day, not understanding the way the world reacts to interracial couples in the South in the 60s.
Bezellia Grove is an interesting young woman, a great character. I'm not sure why this one languished on my stack for a while - the cover didn't do much for me, I admit. Gilmore's second novel reminded me again of how much I enjoyed her first book, Looking For Salvation at the Dairy Queen. And, again, I will be looking forward to more of her work in the future.

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