The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder

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"The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder is the sweet, sexy, funny journey of Calla Lily's life set in Wells' 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 ...

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The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder: A Novel

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"The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder is the sweet, sexy, funny journey of Calla Lily's life set in Wells' 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'Academie de Beaute 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 Calla Lily, a "daughter of the Moon Lady," will respond?" A tale of family and friendship, tragedy and triumph, loss and love, The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder features the warmth, humor, soul, and wonder that have made Wells one of today's most cherished writers, and gives us an unforgettable new heroine to treasure.

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  • The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder
    The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder  

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
This brainchild of Ya-Ya Sisterhood proprietor Rebecca Wells takes us to the small Louisiana river town of La Luna, the home of young Calla Lily and her loving mother, M'Dear. From her supportive, spiritual mother, Calla learns the art of "fixing hair." After a major disappointment in love, our buoyant heroine decides to move to wild New Orleans, where she can pursue that craft at the Cajun-chic L'Académie de Beauté de Crescent. It is here that she first fully realizes that the power of her healing hands endows her with an abiding life purpose. This newfound tranquility suffers a temporary setback, however, when the love of her life reappears. An evocative summer tale by the author of Ya-Yas in Bloom and Little Altars Everywhere.
The Independent Weekly
“Wells’s larger-than-life characters are custom made for summer reading.”
Carolyn See
there's something down-to-earth and comforting about [The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder]…I think the audience for this good-hearted, wishful-thinking book is probably young mothers, staying home with their kids, beginning to feel the existential loneliness sink in and striving to make the best of the hands life has dealt. For them, being told to turn up the boombox and dance in the moonlight, trusting that life is basically good, may be sound advice indeed.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

Wells (Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood) weaves more of the magic that made her a bestseller. At first, Calla Lily Ponder appears to be just like any other young woman growing up in the small town of La Luna, La., where life is simple and Calla Lily is supported by a loving, tightly knit family and a colorful cast of locals. But after a series of hometown heartbreaks, Calla Lily sets out for New Orleans to attend a prestigious beauty academy with dreams of one day opening her own salon. Calla Lily soon learns that while the Big Easy offers a fresh start, adventures and exhilarating new friends, it also presents its own set of tragedies and setbacks. The novel is chock-full of Southern charm and sassy wisdom, and despite its sugary sweetness, it benefits from a hearty dose of Wells's trademark charisma. Calla Lily's story may not be as involved or satisfying as that of the Ya-Yas, but she's sure to be a crowd-pleaser thanks to her humble aspirations, ever hopeful heart and perseverance no matter what fate throws at her. (July)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal
After Ya-Yas in Bloom, Wells keeps her beloved Louisiana locale but wisely moves on to new characters. Set in tiny La Luna, this novel follows Calla Lily from girlhood through the next 25 years (to 1986). Her papa teaches music, her mama, M'Dear, is a hairdresser; together they run a dance studio. Calla Lily inherits M'Dear's gifts for creating beauty and solace through her hands. Seeking comfort after some painful events, Calla Lily makes a new life as a young adult in New Orleans. VERDICT Wells's latest novel lacks the spunk and spark of her early books, but this more mellow work may reflect the author's personal struggles with serious health issues over the last few years. While Wells's fan base will seek another nostalgic visit to the Deep South of the past, complete with its prejudices, younger women may be attracted to Calla Lilly and her friends. And all readers will embrace the themes of second chances, "take the best and leave the rest," and M'Dear's "Rules of Life."—Rebecca Kelm, Northern Kentucky Univ. Lib., Highland Heights
Kirkus Reviews
Wells (Ya-Yas in Bloom, 2005, etc.) leaves her Ya-Yas behind to chronicle the life of a Louisiana beautician with healing powers. Calla Ponder, born in 1953, is raised in the small Cajun town of La Luna, where Calla's beloved mother M'Dear teaches Calla to trust in the power of the Moon Lady. M'Dear and Calla's Papa run a dance studio based on M'Dear's belief in "dancing from the bottom of your heart." M'Dear also has a salon on her front porch where Calla realizes she loves to help people by fixing their hair problems. Tragedy mars Calla's idyllic childhood/adolescence when breast cancer strikes M'Dear, who dies with noble grace in 1970. Grief-stricken Calla remains plucky, buoyed by her long-term romance with Tuck, who lives with his grandparents in La Luna to escape his alcoholic mother and sadistic father. As she graduates from high school, her relationship with Tuck falters. Despite high SATs, Calla decides to attend beauty school to follow M'Dear's example, while studious Tuck leaves for Stanford. He promises to write, but Calla never hears from him again. Heartbroken, she moves to New Orleans to attend L'Academie de Beaute de Crescent-Wells has no use for subtlety. Soon Calla is the prize protege of Ricky Chalon, who recognizes her potential to raise hair care to "a healing art." Calla fantasizes about marrying Ricky until she learns that he is gay and happily committed to lawyer Steve. Instead, she falls in love with Ricky's hunky boat-captain cousin, Sweet, with whom she lives in marital bliss until he dies in a boat explosion caused by greedy oilmen. With the settlement Steve wins Calla, she moves back to La Luna to establish her hair practice. When Tuck, recently divorced,comes home for his grandfather's funeral, she learns that his well-meaning but wrong-headed grandfather misdirected their letters to keep them apart. Naturally, love wins out. Wells wallops every button in this sugary addition to the growing genre of Southern beauty parlor uplift fiction.
The IndependentWeekly
"Wells’s larger-than-life characters are custom made for summer reading."
“Rebecca Wells spins a sweet Southern yarn about an aspiring beautician who overcomes tragedy to find love.”
Columbus Dispatch
“The latest novel by Rebecca Wells, the belle of Southern fiction. . . . is a satisfying coming-of-age tale in a place where the moon glows and the lemonade flows.”
Washington Post
“Many readers will recognize that all the characters . . . are creations of a literary goddess in her own right. . . . Down-to-earth and comforting . . . [A] good-hearted, wishful-thinking book.”
Deseret News
“Wells knows how to paint a picture of small-town life and the wide world beyond that pulls at the heartstrings. Ya-Ya fans are likely to go gaga over The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder.”
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“Wells writes genuinely about her native Louisiana. . . . It’s hard not to fall in love with the people in this magical place, where love is as plentiful as the dancing, gumbo and ice-cold Cokes. . . . A perfect beach read about mothers and friends and sisters.”
USA Today
“[A] heaping helping of sugar . . . [for] when you’re feeling nostalgic for a sugarcoated past.”
Denver Post
“[Wells’] descriptions are so lush and lyrical it feels like you could step through the pages into the hot, humid landscape so shaped by the Mississippi River.”
Miami Herald
“Wells brings back the lush beauty of her birthplace. . . . Wide-eyed, big-hearted Calla has more faith than all the ya-yas put together. . . . As ever, the author’s strength lies in her ability to articulate the profound relationship between women.”
Bellingham Herald
“Told in Wells’ signature style . . . Rich in anecdote and atmosphere . . . This is easily a three-hanky read. . . . the lessons of hope and promises of healing will be a balm to many.”
New York Daily News
“Pure Southern comfort, and [Wells] continues the tradition.”
Real Simple
“The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder will remind you of your first love and power of friendship. As the saying goes, ‘You’ll laugh, you’ll cry.’ But, really, you will.”
Seattle Times
“Calla Lily is a sweetie. . . . This is a novel full of miracles, with characters more colorful than a Crayola 64-crayon box. It’s just the right dose of Southern charm.”
Daytona Beach News-Journal
“Fans of Rebecca Wells’ tales of the ‘Ya-Ya Sisterhood’ will find themselves just as enchanted with this story full of Southern charm and lessons in life. . . . With wisdom and insight, Wells guides Calla on her path of self-discovery.”
Houston Chronicle
“Rebecca Wells has done it again. . . . A new book full of Southern charm and unique characters . . . impossible to put down. . . . Wells delivers characters that are distinct and realistic.”
New Orleans Times-Picayune
“Another exuberant tale of Louisiana women . . . who can resist those moonlit nights, those swimming holes, that delicious cochon de lait, the dreamy little Louisiana towns, the women who are larger than life? Wells weaves that magic spell again.”
“Rebecca Wells spins a sweet Southern yarn about an aspiring beautician who overcomes tragedy to find love.”
North Kitsap Herald
“Fiction junkies packing for vacation can without hesitation place The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder into the juicy reading pile. There’s period drama, there’s romance, and there’s a lot of fabulous hair all wrapped in a vibrantly Southern package.”
Austin American-Statesman
“Charming and luminous . . . A perfect summer indulgence that’ll have you peeking out your window on a muggy night in search of the Moon Lady, who’ll wrap her nurturing arms around you from afar.”
Winnipeg Free Press
“Rebecca Wells is a master of . . . women’s fiction. . . . The novel teaches us that even the worst decisions can be rescued and that approaching the world with love will heal any brokenness in our hearts.”
Richmond Times-Dispatch
“Wells delights in small-town life. . . . She makes the enchantment of daily life seem as plain as daylight.”
“Calla Lily Ponder is every bit as affable as her name suggests. . . . Expect high demand from loyal Ya-Yas fans, who have eagerly awaited a new work from Wells.”
The Independent Weekly
“Wells’s larger-than-life characters are custom made for summer reading.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060930622
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/13/2010
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 366,785
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Rebecca Wells

Writer, actor, and playwright Rebecca Wells is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Ya-Yas in Bloom, Little Altars Everywhere, and Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, which was made into a feature film. A native of Louisiana, she now lives on an island in the Pacific Northwest.


In 1992, a Louisiana-born playwright and actress introduced the world to a clan of quirky Southerners that instantly made an indelible imprint on readers all over the country. Little Altars Everywhere was the warm and witty story of the Walker family of Thornton, Louisiana, and it established Rebecca Wells as one of the most beloved writers in contemporary literature. She solidified that position further with Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood in 1996. Now, nearly ten years later, Wells is giving her avid fans yet another reason to celebrate.

Wells originally made waves as an acclaimed playwright. After a childhood spent indulging in the Southern tradition of verbal story-telling, Wells decided to develop her innate skill for yarn-spinning by penning plays after moving to New York City to pursue a career as a stage actor.

It was not until the early '90s that Wells decided to try her hand at a novel. While telling the larger story of the dysfunctional Walkers, Little Altars Everywhere chiefly focused on a young girl named Siddalee, a character which author Andrew Ward once described as "one of the sharpest little chatterboxes since Huckleberry Finn." Little Altars became both a critical favorite and a bestseller, and paved the way for the smashingly successful Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, which continued Siddalee's story and revealed her mother Vivi's affiliation with an exuberant society of Southern women. The Ya-Ya Sisterhood not only wowed critics across the country, but it hit #1 on the New York Times bestseller list and inspired a cult-like following of readers to rival Wells's fictional sisterhood.

Unfortunately, during the years following the release of Wells's most beloved novel, she was diagnosed with Lyme disease, an illness that no doubt slowed her productivity. "Before I started treatment, on my weakest days, I was unable to lift my hands to type," she says on her web site. "My husband would hold a tape recorder for me so I could talk scenes that were in my imagination. On some days, I could not walk. My husband would lift me out of my wheelchair and into my writing chair. I could only write about 20 minutes, always at night. I learned to humble myself to limitations of energy, and I learned to be grateful that even though my body was so sick, my imagination was still very much alive. I consider Ya-Yas in Bloom to be my ‘miracle baby.'"

Indeed, her legion of fans will agree that her latest release is nothing short of miraculous. After nearly a decade since the release of Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, Rebecca Wells has finally produced the third installment of her popular series. Ya-Yas in Bloom reaches further back than either of her previous novels, examining the origins of the Ya-Ya sisterhood in the 1930s through various narrators and a family album-like format. Wells's devoted followers will surely find much to enjoy in what the author describes as a "more tender book" than her last two works. "Illness -- and the love and forgiveness I have been given have taught me about the need for Tenderness," she says. "Now I know more deeply that we all need more compassion and kindness than this fast, consumer-driven world encourages. Life is not easy. It is filled with pain. It is also filled with joy and moments of ...[a]nd all of a sudden, you realize how beautiful this raggedy life really is."

Wells's positive outlook should only glow more brightly as her health continues to improve. As for the Ya-Yas, Wells is happy to report, "Good Lord willing and the creek don't rise, I definitely hope to write more Ya-Ya books. The universe of the Ya-Yas has a million tales, and somebody has to tell them!"

Good To Know

While attending the Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado, Wells studied language and consciousness with legendary beat poet Allen Ginsberg.

Writing is not the only thing that this author takes seriously. In 1982, she formed a chapter of the Performing Artists for Nuclear Disarmament in Seattle, Washington.

Some fun and fascinating outtakes from our interview with Wells:

"Flowers heal me. Tulips make me happy. I keep myself surrounded by them as soon as they start coming to the island from Canada, and after that when they come from the fields in La Connor, not far from where I live. When their season is over, I surround myself with dahlias from my friend Tami's garden."

"I believe that we are given strength and help from a power much larger than ourselves. I believe if I humble myself that this power will come through me, and help me create work that is bigger than I would have ever been able to have done alone. I believe that illness has led me to a life of gratitude, so I consider Lyme disease at this point in my life to be a blessing in disguise."

"I value humor, kindness, and the ability to tell a good story far more than money, status, or the kind of car someone drives."

"I dislike the second Bush administration's abuse of power. I abhor his administration's waging of war, and the systematic design to make the rich richer and the poor poorer."

"I love being with my husband and family, walking outside, standing in La Luz de La Luna in her ever-changing stages, playing with my dog, singing, dancing, having dinner with friends, playing word games in the parlor, thrilling at our sheep eating alfalfa out of my hand, going to the island farmer's market on Saturdays. I love being told by my doctors that there is every reason to believe that I will get ‘better and better' from Lyme disease. I love that I am privileged enough to have been diagnosed and treated for the fastest growing vector-born bacterial disease in this country."

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    1. Hometown:
      An island near Seattle, Washington
    1. Date of Birth:
    2. Place of Birth:
      Alexandria, Louisiana
    1. Education:
      B.A., Louisiana State University; Graduate work, Louisiana State University and Naropa Institute
    2. Website:

Interviews & Essays

A Conversation with Rebecca Wells

Q: You're known for finding the magic inside the ordinary. In this book, hair seems to play that role. Can you talk about that?

A: THE CROWNING GLORY OF CALLA LILY PONDER is a book that has a lot of love stories. Mother and daughter. Girl and boy. Man and woman. The love that exists among friends, male and female. And the love story of a soul growing in its own subtle ways.

When I was a young girl, I was fascinated by beauty salons, or beauty parlors, as they were alternately called. My mother went to Stephan's Beauty Parlor in my hometown of Alexandria, Louisiana. It was by City Park, and we'd be taken along to sit and wait for her to get her hair done. As I recall it, my brothers headed out to the park, my sister sat in the car enjoying the radio, and I was inside, listening to the ladies talk. I loved their chatter, their hoots of laughter coming up from the salon floor. I'd sit on a little bench near an antique chest. I watched my mother and her friends move about the salon, their plastic smocks on, their hair in different stages of being dyed or permed. I knew instinctively that the beauty parlor was more than just a place where they went to get their hair done. They went there on Fridays or Saturdays in the way they went to church on Sundays. I am not equating religion with hair styling, but I do mean that each carries with it a gathering of energy that touches not only the person's head but also their heart and soul.

Hair has always symbolized, in different ways, part of the soul. From Medieval times on, lovers carried a snippet of each other's hair in a locket. In the MaypoleDance, the ribbons braiding round the pole of Fate signified the rays of the moon and sun. The braid that resulted represented interpretation of masculine and feminine. In fairy tales, the hair comb represented maternal protection in the same way that the hair of Isis represented the thicket of reeds that shielded her child from danger.

Q: THE CROWNING GLORY OF CALLA LILY PONDER is set in your native Louisiana. How do your feelings about your home state influence your writing?

A: I am a daughter of the Louisiana earth, and my work will always be influenced by the cadence, sounds, birds, food, music, people, and flat rich lands of our sweet wild state. I hope that my love for my home state comes through in everything I write. I also hope that my concern comes through. As an expatriate writer from my homeland, I think it may take a while for my imagination to integrate the horrors that continue from Hurricane Katrina, and the unconscionable way this national disaster is still being mishandled.

For me, Louisiana carries great sadness. It is yet another paradise which greed has almost spoiled. But it is a testament to the soul of the people there that they still have a big time, still laugh real loud.

Q: M'Dear and Calla Lily share an unbreakable mother-daughter bond. How does this relationship shape both of their lives?

A: When Calla Lily is an infant, M'Dear holds her up to the moon and blesses her, promising that even when it is dark, when everything seems at its worst, the light will still be there in the same way that the moon is there, even when we cannot see her. M'Dear's unshakable belief that we are taken care of by a loving higher power is the biggest gift that she gives Calla Lily. The gift of being able to help heal a person's spirit by touching her head through the humble act of fixing hair is an extension of this belief, and it's what bonds mother and daughter, this act of the Moon Lady working through them both.

Q: From her mother, Calla Lily inherits "healing hands" and an appreciation of their power to not only fix hair and beautify a woman's exterior but also to connect with and mend the emotional turmoil of the person underneath. What inspired you to give the Ponder women these special abilities?

A: We live in a culture in which so much value is put on what we see on the surface. We have ourselves cut on, cut up, shot up, ripped out, and nipped on-just to look more "beautiful' and young. I just loved the idea of a mother and daughter who share the gift of healing through the humble art of "fixing hair." At an early time in my career, when I was first starting to write, I wrote a one-woman show called "Splittin' Hairs." This book is in part an exploration of who that character really was, wherever she came from. By the way, I loved Calla Lily before I even started this book--because I loved the character who inspired her. Her name was Loretta Endless, and I performed her all over the country, sometimes in theatres but mostly in non-traditional sites like small villages in bush Alaska in front of Inuit children who I was teaching during the day. (Where I traveled by floatplane from island to island and town to town; I performed at the Fairbanks Alaska State Penitentiary. That is a story in itself!) So all this time, Calla Lily was brewing in my mind, simmering, over many years. Since 1982! So I guess you could say that this book is slow-cooked on the back burner, like the gumbo I grew up eating.

Q: The novel depicts female friendships across racial, generational and socio-economic lines, and your previous books have dealt extensively with the idea of sisterhood. Why does this theme resonate so strongly with you?

A: I care that the sisterhood that women naturally crave and are deeply capable of be celebrated, nurtured, and taken seriously, but never too seriously. In Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, Vivi says that there are many secrets in the sisterhood, but the greatest one is humor. That outrageous, funny, big-hearted, generous of spirit Ya-Ya-ness is like sunshine in the rainy Pacific Northwest where I now "make my home." (An interesting phrase. Why do authors always put that on their book jackets? Do other folks-hair cutters, for instance--"make their homes" in Chicago? I don't know.)

Q: The natural world plays a big part in the story, and in fact the La Luna River and the moon are as fully realized and important as any of the human characters. How do you manage to fuse together the mystical and the ordinary in such an organic way?

A: It's how I see the world. Sparks of the divine float all over the place, when we're quiet enough to listen. Good surrounds us in the forms of rivers and moons, laughs and sighs, and meals cooked with love. I see my life as full of grace, and I see that moments of grace are offered through nature as well as through other characters. I come to writing from acting. Joseph Chekhov, cousin of Anton Chekhov, taught that an actor must treat atmosphere as another character. Characters in a novel are not just people, in the same way that our lives are not just made from relationships with other people. Our lives are also made of relationships with trees, peonies, fresh basil, and the scent of neroli.

Q: Over the course of THE CROWNING GLORY OF CALLA LILY PONDER, Calla Lily experiences first love and then later a more mature love. How do the men in her life reflect both her essential nature and her growth?

A: The story of Calla Lily and her men may not be over.

Q: Few people have had the opportunity to preside over an enduring global phenomenon like the Ya-Yas. How does it feel to create novels that speak to millions and millions of readers? Why do you think your work touches so many people?

A: I have said this before, and I still think it's true: outside of an orgasm, there is no better experience than laughing and crying at the same time. Maybe this is one reason why.

Q: What's next for you?

A: I ain't telling.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 94 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 94 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 28, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Worth the Wait

    As expected, Rebecca Wells does not disappoint. The story of Calla Lily Ponder has all the Louisiana flair of Wells' previous tales of the Ya-Yas, with plenty of realism, fantasy, romance, and laughter to go around. The book was a tad slow in the first chapter, but quickly thereafter grabbed me and pulled me in so I didn't want to put it down. I have been waiting for a very good Southern tale to compete with my love of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood trilogy, and this one certainly did, following Calla from childhood through to early adulthood. I highly recommend it to anyone that enjoys this type of Fiction.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Loved it!!

    I was able to download the audio version of this book, and it was so well read with all the emotions the characters were feeling. I found myselft crying during various parts of the book. I loved the audio version so much that I went ahead and bought the hardcover version as well.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 16, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Definitely not the Ya-Ya Sisterhood...

    I was very excited to read this book and must say that I was a bit disappointed by the time I finished the last page. As always, Wells provides a luscious Louisiana back drop for her setting and the comradery shared amongst women makes your heart swell with the want for a big 'ol girls' night out. The book, however, is filled with references to the Moon Lady that I found a bit too far out and that didn't really improve the story. I would have been much more interested in the development of a better story line for Calla Lily than useless tales of a mysterious celestial goddess overseeing the character during her day-to-day life. The plot is one that has been used many times girl loves boy, boy leaves girl and finally they reunite but with Wells' gift for the written word one would hope for less predictability. Bottom line- easy read that will pass the time at the beach but not a book you will remember next year.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2000

    waitng for this book

    Rebeecca Wells book set was a bonus in my small collection, I am rereading Little Alters agian to lighten my summmer job, what a joy!

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2013

    I Also Recommend:

    I absolutely loved this book and was sad to see it end.  I flew

    I absolutely loved this book and was sad to see it end.  I flew through it this summer and passed it on to my sister-in-law who also loved it!  I will never look at the moon without thinking of the love in this book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 5, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    I have the privilege of reading and doing it quite a lot of it.

    I have the privilege of reading and doing it quite a lot of it. When a book can move me to spasms of fear (falling into a river were snakes are seen makes me want my Momma), cry with laughter, shake with outrage, all within the space of a few pages, I know that I am reading something exceptional.  Rebecca Wells takes the first 28 years of a fictional young lady and causes the reader to live with her in the heat and humidity of Louisiana, through the pain of growing up and rejoicing in every minute of that life.  Judith Ivey’s voice abilities bring to life all the characters so richly created by Ms. Wells, hearing this charming story aloud is a like a trip to a long anticipated family reunion.
    Calla Lilly Ponder is born in on the banks of the La Luna River, in the town of La Luna, Louisiana, in 1953.  She was delivered of M’Dear, her mother, beloved of her father and two older brothers.  Her childhood was filled with the wonder found in a town where “everybody knows and cares about everybody.”  M’Dear is a gifted hair dresser and Calla has inherited the gifts associated with that profession.  Early, Calla Lilly knew her life would be devoted to helping others look better and offering the healing that comes with being touched by compassionate hands.  After life gave her sufficient occasions for growth in La Luna, she heads to New Orleans to attain the formal training that began at M’Dear’s knee.  While there, she learns the reality of life, in all its wonder, hurt, success, betrayal and joining it can offer.  The ending is the weakest moment of this otherwise excellent novel, but it is not so weak as to detract from the delight that precedes it.
    There is nothing particular to which one can point that would cause this a story to be one the reader does not want to pause in its reading nor arrive at its end. It most definitely is one that I would “find” time to attend to at every available (or created) moment and I was sad when the last word was spoken.  All of the characters are well developed, well rounded and alive.  The plot is set in a time when life was slower, but was gaining speed with a rapid pace.  Ms. Wells has a gift for reaching the reader in the heart of life and holding them in place as that heart beats a steady, life affirming rhythm. A rhythm that is as familiar as the face in the mirror.  
    The major theme of the book is the reminder that life lived to its fullest is a life that is lived with openness, acceptance and bravery.  It is filled with delightful events that occur with frequency, occasionally there are horrific moments that seem never to end and impact life in ways that will leave scars that will remain as long as we have breath.  Its days are filled with nothing notable but the constancy of friends that turn into a living that is a wonderful whole made up of those moments unnoticed.  This is the current that carries the book from the page to the heart of the reader – open your heart to life or miss living.  
    I have yet to read Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, Ms. Wells’s first novel, and that is an error I hope to soon rectify.  If it is anything near the read that this book is, it will be a too long in coming and its visit will be far too short.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2013

    Fabulous read!

    Great story!!! Loved it!!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2012

    Great read!

    I enjoyed this book. I think anyone could read this.

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  • Posted December 19, 2011

    loved it

    Loved this book. Thoroughly enjoyed how Louisiana was described!

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  • Posted June 29, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Wanted more.

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 8, 2011


    I am so sad it finished so soon. Sad at times, but really beautiful overall.

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  • Posted February 11, 2011


    I was very disappointed with this book. Being a Ya Ya. fan, I thought the writing amatuer and forced myself to finish the book.

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  • Posted September 26, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    It's a fun book

    It's a book that will make you laugh and make you cry, but over all it is just a fun read.

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  • Posted May 5, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book! Excellent writer!

    The characters are wonderful! Love the south!!! Especially New Orleans! Will share with friends and family! I also loved the author's other books!! Must read!!

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  • Posted April 16, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Imagine living your life in a small town called La Luna in Louisiana your whole life.

    You can remember spending time at the corner grocery store getting a bottle of Coke from the old red and white cooler while sitting under the ceiling fan on a hot and muggy summer day hoping for the afternoon thunderstorm to come and cool you off. Other times, you would spend lazy days with friends and a picnic lunch at the river taking turns on the rope swing and seeing who could do the biggest cannon ball.

    One day your mom gets breast cancer, something that you hardly can understand back then but something you think will get better the more times she goes to the doctor and the more treatments she gets. Your mom and you have a close relationship, closer than anyone in the world could possibly understand.

    Your mother has been teaching you about healing hands while she makes the customers in her beauty shop, called the "Crowning Glory" feel more beautiful and alive than when they came in. She shows you that you too, have such a gift and you decide that when you grow up that is just what you will do, follow in your momma's footsteps.

    In The Crowing Glory of Calla Lily Ponder by Rebecca Wells, author of Divine Secrets of the YA-YA Sisterhood, we read of Calla Lily Ponder's childhood as described above and how she grows into the woman she is today. The losses and loves that come and go in her life and how the call of her small town of La Luna beckon her back like the moon she talks to when she gets lonely at night.

    I had the wonderful privilege of receiving a complimentary copy of this book from TLC Book tours and have to tell you this is one of my most favorite books I have read so far. I felt like I was living the life of Calla Lily and the charm of the town she called home.

    If you would love to know more about this book, the author and even where to pick up a copy of this book, please click on the link below:

    More information about the author Rebecca Wells can be found here:

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  • Posted February 21, 2010

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    Little Disappointing

    Overall, I enjoyed it. But the first half was much better than the second half.

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  • Posted February 19, 2010

    A lovely, poignant story!!

    Rebecca Wells has beautifully written an engaging coming-of-age story that is rich with emotion. Beginning with her 1950's childhood, it follows Calla Lily Ponder's bittersweet journey into adulthood guided by the Moon Lady. While growing up in tiny La Luna, Louisiana, Calla is surrounded by the love of her family, friends and the neighborhood women gathered at her beloved mother's beauty salon. Her dream is to follow in her mother's footsteps.healing women's hearts while fixing their hair. But soon, tragedy strikes and Calla leaves for vibrant New Orleans, where her adventures change her life forever.

    Ms. Wells is a gifted storyteller. She has masterfully created an engaging storyline with a wonderful cast of endearing, compelling characters, and a sweet, loving relationship between mother and daughter. She does a magnificent job describing the essence of life in a small southern town. An enchanting spiritual element was beautifully woven throughout. As entertaining as this story was, it did include important lessons about life, friendship and the resilience of the human spirit. I really loved this thoroughly enjoyable book and I highly recommend it!

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  • Posted November 24, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Delightful Read!

    Rolling ride of Calla Lily, planted in Loisiana soil. When Calla Lily's heart is broken at a young age, (something most of us can relate to!), she decides to follow in her mother's footsteps, perfecting her magic by going to L'Academie de Beaute de Crescent to become a beautician. It's a story of family, love lost - found - lost and refound. It's a taste of Cajun. I do have two regrets. I wish there was a cookbook to go with this! And the other regret? It ended! Write on, Rebecca. Write on!

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  • Posted October 25, 2009

    Loved this book.

    I have waited impatiently for a new book by Rebecca Wells. The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder did not disappoint. It was a good story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 21, 2009

    What a wonderful way to spend the weekend, in Louisiana!

    Rebecca Wells gets it right. Growing up with loss at a young age, falling in love, finding a career and all with the gloss of the humid, twangy Mississippi Delta upon it. Her characters are endearing and we know people just like them. I highly recommend this lovely book.

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