Ever since Shelby Eatenton told her mother M'Lynn her colors were blush and bashful in Truvy's Beauty Salon, southern belles have been all the rage. It may be true that the North won the war, but the South definitely won the right to tell the story.
In her follow up to Little Altars Everywhere, Rebecca Wells of YaYa Sisterhood fame brings us another steely flower in The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder. With a naturally elegant southern accent, Judith Ivey shows us the world of La Luna, Louisiana, through the eyes and ears of Calla Lily.
Crowning Glory is a story of all the different kinds of love you can hold in your heart for family, girlfriends, a boy named Tuck and what to do when it all falls apart. In her narration, Ivey imperceptibly shifts the tone of her voice to match the rise and fall of Calla's innocent wonder, puppy love excitement, deep grief, heartbreak, and hope.
There is also an edge in Ivey's voice that gives sound to the earthiness and humidity of La Luna by day and the moonlight which bathes it each night. Ivey also provides the voice of the "Moon Lady", the feminine force which guides Calla through her idyllic childhood, the sudden loss of her exuberant and passionate mother, and her discovery of the healing power of her own hands to do hair.
Ivey carries us from the tiny hamlet of La Luna to the big, bustling city of New Orleans, where Calla finds her professional calling as a hair stylist and rediscovers her lost love Tuck. If you want to know how it ends you will just have to put in your earbuds and grab a fan for a trip with Judith Ivey and Rebecca Wells to Louisiana. Sarah Evans Hogeboom
Now Wells debuts an entirely new cast of characters in this shining stand-alone novel about the pull of first love, the power of life, and the human heart's vast capacity for healing.
The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder is the sweet, sexy, funny journey of Calla Lily's life set in Wells's expanding fictional Louisiana landscape. In the small river town of La Luna, Calla bursts into being, a force of nature as luminous as the flower she is named for. Under the loving light of the Moon Lady, the feminine force that will guide and protect her throughout her life, Calla enjoys a blissful childhood - until it is cut short. Her mother, M'Dear, a woman of rapture and love, teaches Calla compassion, and passes on to her the art of healing through the humble womanly art of "fixing hair". At her mother's side, Calla further learns that this same touch of hands on the human body can quiet her own soul.
It is also on the banks of the La Luna River that Calla encounters sweet, succulent first love, with a boy named Tuck. But when Tuck leaves Calla with a broken heart, she transforms hurt into inspiration and heads for the wild and colorful city of New Orleans to study at L'Académie de Beauté de Crescent.
In that extravagant big river city, she finds her destiny - and comes to understand fully the power of her "healing hands" to change lives and soothe pain, including her own. When Tuck reappears years later, he presents her with an offer that is colored by the memories of lost love. But who knows how Cally Lily, a "daughter of the Moon Lady", will respond?
©2009 Rebecca Wells; (P)2009 HarperCollins Publishers
"The novel is chock-full of Southern charm and sassy wisdom." (Publishers Weekly)
This story fills your heart and soul with the feelings of sweet southern women. I cried and I laughed and I thoroughly enjoyed this book. You really feel the hurts and triumphs of Cally Lily Ponder and wish you were one of her great friends. It will be a long while before I forget her.
Rating scale: 5=Loved it, 4=Liked it, 3=Ok, 2=Disappointed, 1=Hated it. I look for well developed characters, compelling stories.
She had the authentic southern accent but most of the female characters were over-the-top while most of the males mumbled and drawled out every syllable beyond reason. The effect was that of cartoon character hillbillies. If the story itself was better, this would be better to read than to listen to.
I am so disappointed at the shallowness of the plot and the lack of character development, especially as I enjoyed The Ya-Ya Sisterhood so much. Ms. Wells did not live up to her earlier achievement with this one. The first half of the story sounded like entries in an adolescent girl's diary - we went swimming, we went shopping, this is how we did our hair. Every imaginable southern cliche was used, and every attempt at humor fell flat - especially the embarassing attempt by Calla to use voo-doo to convert a gay hairdresser. And what was with Calla's emotional reminiscence of Romeo and Juliet in which Romeo stabbed himself and Juliet was screaming with his blood streaming down her gown? Which version of Shakespeare did she read? Please!
I came very close to not finishing, but stuck with it hoping for improvement. Just as there seemed to be some hope for genuine feeling towards the end, we descended back into predicatable cliche by route of Harlequin romance. I cannot recommend this book and feel it was a wasted credit.
First, my most favorite thing about this audiobook was that Judith Ivey sounds just like Paula Deen! Wonderful.
Second - if you don't like to cry, skip this one. I must have had tears streaming down my face for half of this book - which looks a little crazy in Albertson's, let me tell you!
Wonderful story - rich characters, real pain and joy, descriptions of Louisiana food that made my mouth water!
I couldn't take my ear buds out - I wanted to listen all day!
I read both "Little Altars Everywhere" and "Ya Ya Sisterhood" and thoroughly enjoyed this one as well. Excellent reading voice - very easy to listen to. If you've liked other Rebecca Wells' books, you'll love this as well. Definitely a 'chick' book - romantic, a bit predictable, but thoroughly enjoyable.
I have loved all the books by Rebecca Wells, and this book is no exception. Really a nice story, very touching, and Judith Ivey doesn't just read it, she PERFORMS the book. Great listen.
This was my favorite book of 2009. The reader was wonderful, the book lyrical. The love stories are sweet and enduring. The place created in my mind magical. It is a story of innocence and purpose. Incredibly written. I highly recommend it!
Fans of Rebecca Wells will not be disappointed with the Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder. Very well read and interpreted. The characters came to life and left me wanting more. Delightful!
What a wonderful listen. The story is memorizing and the reader is so captivating I could hardly stop listening.
The book started out strong and I didn't want to stop listening, however has it went on, I got the feeling that Calla Lily was a little pious. I actually stopped listening for a couple of days as I felt her "wonderfulness" became too much. Other than that and wishing the ending had been stronger, for the most part the story was entertaining and teh narration was spot on!
Laughed and cried listening to this wonderful story! I thought it was great and want more.
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