The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder: A Novel

The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder: A Novel

3.8 96
by Rebecca Wells

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 “Rebecca Wells has done it again….A new book full of Southern charm and unique characters…impossible to put down.”—Houston Chronicle

“Wells weaves that magic spell again.”—New Orleans Times-Picayune


For Ya-Ya fans everywhere, New York Times bestselling author Rebecca

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 “Rebecca Wells has done it again….A new book full of Southern charm and unique characters…impossible to put down.”—Houston Chronicle

“Wells weaves that magic spell again.”—New Orleans Times-Picayune


For Ya-Ya fans everywhere, New York Times bestselling author Rebecca Wells returns with The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder. The creator of the literary sensations Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, Little Altars Everywhere, and Ya-Yas in Bloom delivers an unforgettable new stand-alone novel about the pull of first love, the power of home, and everyday magic. No matter if you already adore the Ya-Yas or haven’t yet entered the miraculous world of Rebecca Wells, you are going to love—and never forget—Calla Lily Ponder.

Editorial Reviews

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)

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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.

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HarperCollins Publishers
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