The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder: Book Review

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I'm not sure why I'm fascinated by books set in the post Depression south. I think it's the novelty of the way modern day authors portray the south and southern hospitality. I read The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder as part of TLC Book Tours. 

I've read all of Rebecca Wells' other books and was excited to see a new title. I wish I could say I loved it; and I'm glad I can say I didn't hate it.  I think the Ya Ya's books were so enjoyable, it was inevitable that I'd compare them despite Calla Lily being a stand alone novel and not part of a series (unless that's coming).

In a nutshell, The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder is about a young girl, the book's namesake, and her path from childhood to adulthood dealing with different tragedies and triumphs with love and loss thrown in. The book starts out well, lags in the middle and falters a bit at the end. I like many of the themes in the book, like the strength of relationships with family and friends. But, there was a lot of syrup-y overkill too.

What I didn't like:
*The book felt unfinished. Or perhaps as though this version should have been a draft. Parts of it just weren't smooth.
*It felt too long. Parts could have been left out entirely or shortened.
*I'm glad Wells didn't gloss over the state of race relations for the time (I believe it begins in the late 50's or early 60's), but the one section she included, the beating of a young boy, seemed thrown in just so she could say she didn't ignore it.
*The ending, though predictable, happened very abruptly. I could have done with less of some things in the middle of the book and a slightly longer resolution.
*Calla Lily and her family are from La Luna, Louisiana. The Moon Lady and a reverence for the moon is a constant theme throughout the book. It got really tiresome at times.

What I did like:
*The story itself is really sweet. 
*Wells has a way with words. When she's not overwhelming us with the Moon Lady with lines like this:

"The moon, La Luna, is always there. Her pull is strong, strong enough to move the mighty Mississippi, Calla. The Moon Lady, La Luna, is your bridge from darkness to light. Trust in her strength," 

her writing is really lyrical and pretty.

"This was all before I started school and was graced to spend days on end with my mother, so rich and private that even now I can close my eyes and relive them."

I also like the way Wells wrote Calla's mother. Some of the things she says are priceless, " If cleanliness is next to Godliness, then pampering is next to Goddessness." (so true!)
*I'm a sucker for love stories, especially childhood love and reunions. 
*As I said above, I really like stories about the strength of family and lasting friendship bonds, particularly stories about girlfriends who grow up together.

While I wouldn't put this with my top reads or as a book I'd read again, overall I enjoyed it. You can listen to Book Club Girl interview Wells about the book on Blog Talk Radio

Have you read The Crowning Glory? What did you think? 
(This is my first book review, did I give too much information? Not enough? Did I ruin the book for you?)

*TLC Tours gave me a copy of the book to review. I'm sure I'll pass it on to my mom. Unless she reads this review. She has less patience for books that don't 'wow' in the first few chapters than I do.The link to the book is my Amazon affiliate.

1 comment:

  1. I really loved the bullet points in your review! I think I'm going to steal that. :)

    Sorry this didn't wow you. I read the Ya-Ya books a while ago, and I wonder if I would enjoy this one as much. But I love the things that you did like, especially "pampering is next to Goddessness". HA! I've got to remember that next time I have to choose between a pedicure and cleaning the house. :)

    Thanks for being on the tour! I love how you did your review. Not too much info, but enough to give folks a sense of the book. Perfect.


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