How Dolly Parton Saved My Life: A Novel of the Jelly Jar Sisterhood

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Overview

Dolly Parton once said," If you don't like the road you're walking, start paving another one." In the bustling city of Atlanta, four very different ladies take her advice to heart and open a catering business that will cater to them—successful, independent women who put their families first.

But flouting the traditions and expectations of Southern society turns out to be more complicated than they ever anticipated. Even as the pressure of running a business bonds them together, ...

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How Dolly Parton Saved My Life: A Novel of the Jelly Jar Sisterhood

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Overview

Dolly Parton once said," If you don't like the road you're walking, start paving another one." In the bustling city of Atlanta, four very different ladies take her advice to heart and open a catering business that will cater to them—successful, independent women who put their families first.

But flouting the traditions and expectations of Southern society turns out to be more complicated than they ever anticipated. Even as the pressure of running a business bonds them together, the realities of managing real life threaten to tear the whole thing apart. As financial woes, personal hurts, and family troubles test the strength of their business and their friendship, they discover that sisterly support and lots of heartfelt prayer just might be the only way to survive.

Full of sass, grit, and good old-fashioned faith, How Dolly Parton Saved My Life is a hilarious and poignant look at friendship with a distinctly Southern flair.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Josephine Vann, a devoted wife, doting mother and former bank exec, starts a catering company in Connors's wholesomely humorous debut. After hiring Daisy, an eccentric pastry chef who lives by the rules Dolly Parton doles out in her songs, and Cate, an interior designer in a "quarter-life crisis," Josephine meets her match in Ellie Howell-Routledge, the Cordon Bleu-trained daughter of a powerful Atlanta family who uses her deep pockets to push her way into partnership with the reluctant Josephine-never knowing that Josephine is harboring a secret that involves Ellie and her husband. On the way to becoming innovative businesswomen, they tangle with a health inspector, face financial ruin, unwittingly shock the sensibilities of delicate clients, worry about their children and bemoan lost loves. Most importantly, they bond, giving the girlfriends the opportunity to show off their feistiness and strength. Think: Steel Magnolias meets the Food Network. (July)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews
Industrious Atlanta ladies whip up a new catering company. God works in mysterious ways. That is one belief the four ladies behind Jelly Jar Catering share. Josephine (Jo to her friends) is the founder of the Atlanta-based family-friendly food company. (Stay-at-home mom Jo turned to baking when her girls started school and things became a bit dull.) Jo recruits Ellie Howell-Routledge (mom to toddler twins and a professionally trained cook) as her partner and the pair then hire Cate (single and good with design and party concepts) and Daisy (single mom and pastry chef). The four women throw everything they've got into their business. Jo and Ellie soon overstretch themselves trying to be wives, moms and entrepreneurs. Jo can't seem to get pregnant again and Ellie and her spouse start endless bouts of bickering. As expected, these four ladies have strong personalities and headstrong ways-making personality clashes both interesting and inevitable. Not to mention the stress of getting the new business off the ground and profitable. Religion serves as the tie that binds these ladies together and gives them strength. There's lots of talk about finding the right church and relying upon the good lord to provide guidance. But it's not all sermonizing. Plenty of zingers come from Dolly Parton too. Daisy idolizes the platinum powerhouse and always has an appropriate Dolly quote at the ready-these gems keep the book from becoming overly preachy. The characters are rich and sweet-just like Daisy's calorie-laden Southern recipe for S'mores Cake-and the plot is a proper mix of twists and redemption. The one big problem: Those who don't aspire to be good Christians may find the religious components hardto swallow. Plenty of God and good fun in this sentimental Southern tale.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780767926560
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 7/15/2008
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 1,137,379
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

CHARLOTTE CONNORS likes cheese, church, and Dolly Parton.
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Reading Group Guide

1. Did you like the book? Why or why not?

2. Jo is at first reluctant to leave behind her original name idea, Divine Foods–but warms to Jelly Jar partly in an effort to be flexible and collaborative. Do you think this was a good decision? What would you have named the company?

3. Which character do you have the most in common with? Which character interests you most? Would you be friends with any of these women?

4. What do you make of Ellie and Mike’s marriage? Do you trust Jo’s prediction that Mike will come around to the idea of Ellie working?

5. Why do you think it is that the lacrosse girls don’t show up at Tiff’s party? How do you imagine their interaction at practice the following week? Would Tiff confront them? Would they mention it?

6. At the end of the book, Ellie says, “With God’s help, we can do anything.” Daisy reflects that she hadn’t known whether Ellie was religious, “But somehow it makes sense, now that I think about it.” What does she mean? What about Ellie would make Daisy think that she was religious?

7. Do you agree with Daisy’s decision to go back to a church whose members had been unkind to her and her daughter? What are the pros and cons of returning to Peachtree Hills Presbyterian?

8. What do you think happened to Ellie’s ring?

9. Was Jo right to tell Ellie about her engagement to Mike? Why or why not?

10. At Shelby Madden’s birthday party, the stay-at-home moms are outspoken in their criticism of mothers who work. What did you think of this exchange? Why does the discussion become so heated? What is at stake for the stay-at-homes?

11. Compare Peachtree Hills Presbyterian to Resurrection Community Church, as they are portrayed in the novel. Which would you choose to attend? Is either type of congregation familiar to you?

12. Time and time again the main characters are faced with condescending and even misogynist remarks from Atlanta men–from gas station attendants to church speakers to their own husbands. How does each character respond? How meaningful are these scenes to the book? What do Jo’s, Ellie’s, Cate’s, and Daisy’s reactions to these situations say about their characters?

13. What role does religion play in each of the main character’s lives? Does one character stand out to you as the most pious or the most secular? Do you think Jo goes to church? Does this make her prayers more or less significant? Why does church seem to be less important to the married women?

14. What does Jelly Jar mean to each of the main characters?

15. Lillian advises Daisy that a congregation is like a family–with the same flaws and disagreements as a nuclear family. What other communities provide a sense of family, in the book and in the world? Is it true to say that they really function like a family, as Lillian suggests?

16. Is this a feminist novel? Why or why not?

17. What do you think of the Jelly Jar Rules? Are there any unwritten rules in the novel that could be added to the list? Are there any rules that you think should be added to the list?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2014

    I love dollyparton

    Thank heavan for dolly parton

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 8, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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