A big-hearted coming-of-age debut set in civil rights-era New Orleans—a novel of Southern eccentricity and secrets
When Ibby Bell’s father dies unexpectedly in the summer of 1964, her mother unceremoniously deposits Ibby with her eccentric grandmother Fannie and throws in her father’s urn for good measure. Fannie’s New Orleans house is like no place Ibby has ever been—and Fannie, who has a tendency to end up in the local asylum—is like no one she has ever met. Fortunately, Fannie’s black cook, Queenie, and her smart-mouthed daughter, Dollbaby, take it upon themselves to initiate Ibby into the ways of the South, both its grand traditions and its darkest secrets.
For Fannie’s own family history is fraught with tragedy, hidden behind the closed rooms in her ornate Uptown mansion. It will take Ibby’s arrival to begin to unlock the mysteries there. And it will take Queenie and Dollbaby’s hard-won wisdom to show Ibby that family can sometimes be found in the least expected places.
For fans of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt and The Help, Dollbaby brings to life the charm and unrest of 1960s New Orleans through the eyes of a young girl learning to understand race for the first time.
By turns uplifting and funny, poignant and full of verve, Dollbaby is a novel readers will take to their hearts.
Dollbaby: A Novel by Laura Lane McNeal
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is southern-lit about a family in New Orleans, when a girl named Libby Bell is abandoned by her mother at her paternal grandmother's house in the 1960s and all the family secrets proceed to spill out of the closets.
I loved this book. Loved. The story has the magic of Alice Hoffman, Sarah Addison Allen, Rebecca Wells, and Mildred Taylor, all rolled up into one. I also thought about the older movie version of Steel Magnolias while I read this book - not because of similar plot-lines or characters, but because of the way the story feels as it's being told. I think another reason this story made me think of Steel Magnolias so much is because I would love to see this book become a movie.
I'm so glad I received a free advanced copy of this book from GoodReads First Reads in exchange for a review. I had allotted four days to read this book (reading a quarter of the book per day) but I was so into the story that I carried the book around with me and read whenever I found a spare minute. I finished the book in three days. I look forward to reading future works from Laura Lane McNeal.
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