The First Annual Grand Prairie Rabbit Festival

( 20 )

Overview

Welcome to Grand Prairie, Louisiana--land of confounding accents, hard-drinking senior citizens, and charming sinners--brought to hilarious life in a bracing, heartfelt debut novel simmering with Cajun spice. . .

Father Steve Sibille has come home to the bayou to take charge of St. Pete's church. Among his challenges are teenybopper altar girls, insomnia-curing confessions, and alarmingly alluring congregant Vicky Carrier. Then there's Miss Rita, an irrepressible centenarian ...

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The First Annual Grand Prairie

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Overview

Welcome to Grand Prairie, Louisiana--land of confounding accents, hard-drinking senior citizens, and charming sinners--brought to hilarious life in a bracing, heartfelt debut novel simmering with Cajun spice. . .

Father Steve Sibille has come home to the bayou to take charge of St. Pete's church. Among his challenges are teenybopper altar girls, insomnia-curing confessions, and alarmingly alluring congregant Vicky Carrier. Then there's Miss Rita, an irrepressible centenarian with a taste for whiskey, cracklins, and sticking her nose in other people's business.

When an outsider threatens to poach Father Steve's flock, Miss Rita suggests he fight back by staging an event that will keep St. Pete's parishioners loyal forever. As The First Annual Grand Prairie Rabbit Festival draws near, help comes from the strangest places. And while the road to the festival may be paved with good intentions--not to mention bake sales, an elephant, and the most bizarre cook-out ever--where it will lead is anyone's guess. . .

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Authentic Cajun touches (and recipes) spice up Wheaton's delightful debut yarn about faith and the yearnings of the flesh. Fr. Steve Sibille, the reflective protagonist, is re-evaluating his vow of celibacy after being tempted by Vicky Carrier, the sinfully conceived but beloved daughter of St. Peter's church's former padre. Father Steve considers the repeated advice of his family friend Miss Rita, a scene-stealing African-American centenarian who tells Father Steve that what he needs is a woman. Things get stickier for Father Steve when his gay friend, Fr. Mark Johnson, quits the priesthood and the Rev. Paul Tompkins attempts to woo St. Pete congregants to his Pentecostal church, leading to a big showdown and the festival of the title. Wheaton writes with an infectious energy, and his affection for the characters and culture is authentic without being overbearing or cheesy. Do the bon temps rouler? In Wheaton's hands, they sure do. (Jan.)
The Barnes & Noble Review

Father Steve Sibille may just be a literary descendant of those men and women of the cloth who grapple with the contradictions of faith and feelings (think Greene's "whiskey priest" and McCullough's Father Ralph) across the vaulted arc of a fictional narrative. Like these forbears, Father Steve does not piously squelch his temptations. Instead Ken Wheaton's thoroughly millennial 30-something pastor tosses back copious amounts of alcohol --in addition to the boxed Franzia wine he transforms at mass-- liberally indulges a penchant for swearing, and smokes. A lot. So when pretty young Vicki Carrier appears in the congregation at St. Pete's in backwater Grand Prairie, Louisiana, it feels almost inevitable that Father Steve will add the pleasures of the flesh to his list of his (ahem) indiscretions. But he doesn't.

Not that she isn't thoroughly appealing. Whip-smart and funny, Vicki provides the pragmatic kick in the trousers that Father Steve needs to finesse a scheme -- the festival of the novel's title -- for saving his dwindling group of lackadaisical parishioners from being usurped by the glitzy appeal of the charismatic Pentecostal minister building a new church down the road. Vicki becomes a confidante too, part of a trinity that includes Miss Rita, a brash centenarian and the Sibilles' former housekeeper, and Father Mark Johnson, the gay shepherd of a neighboring flock. Together, they help Steve battle the demons within; and there are plenty, from the metaphysical (Catholic doctrine vs. evangelical fundamentalism) to the commonplace (how to keep from dozing during boring confessions), the surreal (negotiating with the Irish Travelercarny) and the downright funny. The last category includes a revenge scene involving a full coat of red body paint, a marijuana-laced midnight bike-ride to scare the devil (pun intended) out of a cheating girlfriend.

Though chock-a-block with Cajunisms, quirky characters, and divine descriptions of food, Wheaton's work never stumbles into cliché. Instead he delivers a accomplished debut that ends too quickly, and leaves the reader imagining a return to future festivities.

--Reviewed by Lydia Dishman

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781410421913
  • Publisher: Cengage Gale
  • Publication date: 4/16/2010
  • Pages: 466
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 20 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 20 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 29, 2010

    first annual grand prairie rabbit festival

    i did not like this book. it was disturbing in the sense of what the priest does, thinks and talks about. he was creepy. story line was good but characters were very disturbing.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2010

    WHY THE PROFANITY???

    This story is really good, but I had trouble getting past all the profane language. I'm not sure it added anything positive to what could be a great book club review. However, I would never suggest it to either of my book clubs.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 12, 2014

    Feels like i was living this story

    Great book with some very colorful language.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2013

    As a practicing Catholic I wasn't sure what to expect from Ken W

    As a practicing Catholic I wasn't sure what to expect from Ken Wheaton's novel. Would I be shocked? Offended? Amused? Turns out it was all of the above. This was a pleasure to read and I can't wait to read more of Wheaton's work.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2013

    A joy to read.

    A joy to read.

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  • Posted January 25, 2013

    Really entertaining

    That book had me laughing and chuckling the whole time. It is irreverent and funny as can be.
    Some people who have posted reviews have a problem with the "profanities". I don't. Really, when you stop and think about it, that's how most normal well adjusted adults talk. You say a curse word here and there and life goes on. Grow up!
    The story is cute and some characters could have been developed a little bit more but the whole point of the book was to keep you reading and...it did just that.
    I'm sorry it was so short. I would have liked that book to be never ending I liked it so much.
    The recipes at the end seem yummy. I'm definitely going to try the crawfish etoufee.
    If you want something lighthearted and funny with a definite southern twang, this is it!

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  • Posted February 5, 2011

    Wonderful

    Ken's book is great from the introduction to the recipes at the end of the book. The book is a funny and entertaining look at life in South Louisiana from a Louisiana native. I laughed out loud as I heard phrases straight out of my childhood.

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  • Posted February 20, 2010

    Excellent read!

    Headline says it all!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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