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Editorial Reviews

Bouncy, chirpy, and brave, Calla Lily Ponder faces life's joys and tragedies in the '50s and '60s in La Luna, Louisiana, with help from her hairdresser mother, M'Dear; her best friends, Renee and Sukey; and a delightful cast of the wise and likable characters Wells (Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood) is known for. Judith Ivey's performance is a pure joy - sweet, hopeful, and tender. Her interpretations are completely winning, whether she's describing terrible instances of racism or offering M'Dear's down-home wisdom. Ivey makes it easy to believe in Calla Lily's messages from "The Moon Lady" or the effects of her miraculous healing hands. Ivey's accents ring true, her characters have substance, her voice is lovely, and her timing is perfect. An audio gem.

Publisher's Summary

Known for her beloved Ya-Ya books (Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, Little Altars Everywhere, and Ya-Yas in Bloom), Rebecca Wells has helped women name, claim, and celebrate their shared sisterhood for over a decade.

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

Critic Reviews

"The novel is chock-full of Southern charm and sassy wisdom." (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.1 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
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    89
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    48
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    7

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5.0
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    115
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    25
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    17
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    6
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    3

Story

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
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  • Overall
  • Joanne
  • Keene, NH, USA
  • 07-24-09

Sweet Southern Women

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.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Great book

Would you listen to The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder again? Why?

I am a hairdresser and I have to say I loved this book.

Have you listened to any of Judith Ivey’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Judith is by far the best reader i have ever heard.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes it was

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Laurie
  • Bellingham, WA, United States
  • 01-31-10

Loved it!

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.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Loved it, Ya'll!

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!

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Great.

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Laughed and cried listening to this wonderful story! I thought it was great and want more.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder

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!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Laurie
  • Florence, KY, United States
  • 12-06-09

A winner by Wells

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.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

It good book...Good Author

I liked it. I've always enjoyed her books.
However in parts of the book...it dragged. I had to fast forward. Also, I really didn't like the voices that narrator used for the male characters.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Engaging story, great narration! A favorite listen

I read a couple of other Rebecca Wells books in the past and enjoyed them, but this story -- about a young girl who grows up in the south -- was my favorite. Very engaging. I couldn't stop listening! It was such a fun story -- happy, sad, funny -- I was pulled in right away. I love Judith Ivey as an actress and was very happy with her acting/narration of the story. Overall it was one of my favorites of all the books I've listened to. And I've listened to a lot!

I definitely recommend this book.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story
  • Janice
  • Sugar Land, TX, United States
  • 04-27-12

Ears assaulted by bad writing and bad reading

What didn’t you like about Judith Ivey’s performance?

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.

Any additional comments?

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.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 12-08-16

Delightful.

What an enjoyable & sweet story. Full of well rounded charters. I'd love it to be made into a film too. ❤️

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story
  • elly4367
  • 09-14-17

Full of southern charm

Full of southern charm from start to finish, a lovely nostalgic read with a big heart.