Thursday, June 2, 2011

Never Sit Down in a Hoopskirt and Other Things I Learned in Southern Belle Hell

Expelled from thirteen boarding schools in the past five years, seventeen-year-old Jane Fontaine Ventouras is returning to her Southern roots, and the small town of Bienville, Alabama, where ladies always wear pearls, nothing says hospitality like sweet tea
and pimento cheese sandwiches, and competing in the annual Magnolia Maid Pageant is every girl’s dream.

But Jane is what you might call an anti-belle—more fishnets and tattoos than sugar and spice. The last thing on her mind is joining the Magnolia Maid brigade and parading around town in
a dress so big she can’t even fi t through doors. So when she finds herself up to her ears in ruffl es and etiquette lessons, she’s got one mission: Escape.

What’s a hipster to do? Will Jane survive Bienville boot camp intact or will they—gasp!—make a Southern belle out of her yet?

Beth says 4.5 Stars…

With a title like this one (although the cover is less than amazing), you know the book’s going to be hilarious. That’s actually what drew me to the book, and I must say that it didn’t disappoint. As a Southern girl myself I can relate to some of the scenarios in the book. There’s a whole little section where Jane rants about the use of the phrase “Be sweet,” which is something I’ve heard more times than I can count. There were many more instances of similar hilarity throughout the novel, and the little sayings got me every time. I did find the plot a bit convoluted; at times I couldn’t understand in what direction things were headed. However, although it did get confusing it was still insanely funny. It took me a while to get my bearings because I thought the book would center on the preparations for a beauty pageant, which put me more than a bit off base. I really loved Rumley’s characterization of the South – it was just accurate enough and didn’t attempt to be perfect. The costume descriptions were super vivid and absolutely fantastic. Some of the mental images given to me by the dresses kept me entertained for longer than I should admit.

Jane was so much fun. Although she had some very stereotypical bad girl traits, you still could see the goodness and caring beneath her tough exterior because of her status as main character. The amount of sarcasm that came from her warmed my heart and made me chuckle. I loved how she didn’t just sit down and take things and that her fights managed to lead to odd, yet entertaining consequences. The rest of the characters were equally as much fun to get to know. The radically different personalities that all of the “Maids” had melded into a quirky whole that allowed for lots of non-serious spats.

The only real way to describe this book is sheer Southern hilarity. I was in stitches the whole time while reading it! This is a perfect light beach read. Just be warned that you will laugh (probably rather loudly) when reading this novel, so consider your surroundings before opening the book.
Book from Publisher


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