The Red Hat Club Rides Again

The Red Hat Club Rides Again

3.6 12
by Haywood Smith

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Put on your red hats and plenty of attitude, and spend a hilarious, heart-warming read with a group of unstoppable women in New York Times bestselling author Haywood Smith’s new novel…

Georgia, SuSu, Teeny, Linda and Diane have been friends for more than thirty years. But when Pru

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Put on your red hats and plenty of attitude, and spend a hilarious, heart-warming read with a group of unstoppable women in New York Times bestselling author Haywood Smith’s new novel…

Georgia, SuSu, Teeny, Linda and Diane have been friends for more than thirty years. But when Pru Bonner, black sheep of the group, falls off the wagon so hard it shakes their world, “the girls” stage a hilarious kidnapping in Vegas to help their childhood friend clean up her act. As the women confront their pasts along with their hazardous adventure, they discover surprising strength in themselves and their friendships. Laughter is spiced with secrets, surprises, and pitfalls aplenty, including a midlife pregnancy test, the perils of internet dating, an all-expense-paid plastic surgery cruise, and a surprise celebration that proves it's never too late for love.

As in THE RED HAT CLUB, these irrepressible heroines face the challenges of friendship in sickness and in health, with heart and indomitable humor. So join The Red Hats and remember that age is all in your head, calories should always be in chewable form (Diet Coke with chocolate éclairs!), and that when all else fails, your Red Hats will see you through.

“An engaging ode to the lasting bonds of southern sisterhood.”
--Kirkus Reviews

“Hitting the road with Smith’s lovable ladies is a riotous raucous, roller-coaster adventure.”

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
For three decades, no matter what, the Red Hat Club has met for their monthly luncheon. They religiously adhere to the Twelve Traditions, but each of these fiftysomething Southern belles is delightfully unique. In this sequel to The Red Hat Club, Smith's intrepid ladies are a bit older, but even drug addiction, alcoholism, cancer, and a pregnancy scare hasn't destroyed Georgia, Teeny, SuSu, Linda, Diane, and Pru's spirit. Now they're ready for their next group project: a mock kidnapping in Las Vegas, where they check Pru into drug rehab. Engaging flashbacks help tell this charming story. Readers who enjoy friendship-themed books, such as Rebecca Wells's Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, will definitely go for this, too. A welcome addition to libraries of all sizes. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 12/04.]-Shelley Mosley, Glendale Community Coll. Lib. Media Ctr., AZ Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A spicy sequel offers an engaging ode to the lasting bonds of southern sisterhood and life-begins-at-50 optimism that will melt the most cynical of Yankee hearts. What is it about the water down south that makes women bond for life as solidly as Fixodent to gums? This follow-up to the Red Hat Club (2003), with its references to adult toy stores, booze, 12-step programs, and Dr. Atkins, proves that even if Smith's is a well-explored genre, her adventurous tale of six middle-aged Atlanta women remains a welcome ride. The Red Hats, dressed accordingly, are still meeting for their monthly ladies' luncheons, but, thanks to the disposable income of millionaire member Teeny, they're soon off on a series of wacky, husbandless sojourns-to Las Vegas, to Florida, even a monthlong Bahamian plastic-surgery cruise for extreme makeovers. Each exploit is threaded with earnest sentimentality as the women tout their 12 sacred traditions (though tradition 5, "Mind Your Own Business," is rarely observed). When the gang heads to Sin City to kidnap wayward and substance-abusing sister Pru and steal her away to a Rocky Mountain rehab, the trip culminates in a laugh-out-loud episode as morally fixated narrator Georgia, unprepared for the sound of sirens when she hits the jackpot, flees her winning slot machine. Nostalgic flashbacks to the women's sorority-sister youth illuminate each character's past and hopefully render the story more relevant to those unfamiliar with AARP guidelines and More magazine. Smith's lilting twang and kitchen-sink wisdom permeate every paragraph, making the suspension of disbelief surprisingly easy. Even a late-in-the-game Elton John cameo can be dismissed as well-intentionedoverzealousness before you turn the page to see what will happen next. Potty humor worthy of the Golden Girls, plus musings on friendship and the metaphysical as true religion-all rolled into one. Author tour
Toronto Sun
The Red Hat Club ladies are just Bridget, older, wiser, and with husbands who may or may not be faithful.
Tennessean on THE RED HAT CLUB
A humorous, cathartic coming-of-middle-age story of five feisty women who refuse to throw in the towel—or the hat.
Romantic Times on THE RED HAT CLUB to read.
Chicago Tribune on THE RED HAT CLUB
A tribute to women who emerged victorious through divorce, menopause, spreading waistlines, and other tribulations.
VA) Times (Roanoke
The Red Hat Club is a valuable life lesson for women of all ages...a spunky, sexy, intriguing, lickety-split romp.
Florida Times-Union on THE RED HAT CLUB
A gossipy, engaging read, full of witty Southern characters readers will be unable to resist the urge to cheer on.
Booklist on THE RED HAT CLUB
Smith's celebration of comradeship is a loving tribute to those lifelong relationships that may defy logic...a joyous, joyful ode. on THE RED HAT CLUB
A fine, confiding...voice, which makes for a fast, easy read. Her dialogue is true to life. She has a wicked sense of humor.
Chattanooga Times on THE RED HAT CLUB
A hoot...A delightful read that shows that even 'mature' women can be full of surprises to themselves and others.
Book Review Café on THE RED HAT CLUB
A great story with many fond memories for anyone who had a group of ladies in their high school.
Harriet's Book Reviews on THE RED HAT CLUB
An engaging tale that welcomes readers as if they were sharing wine with the of women's fiction will appreciate Haywood Smith's fine homage to the southern female.

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Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.48(w) x 9.42(h) x 1.18(d)

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Swan Coach House tearoom,Atlanta.April 8, 2003. 10:55 a.m.
As always, I got to the Swan Coach House Restaurant before the valet parking, so I saved myself a tip and pulled into a slot under a canopy of blooming dogwoods and towering, newly tasseled oaks across from the main entrance. Spring-a precious, unpredictable event in Atlanta-had come early this year, confusing the plants into a glorious, out-of-synch display that sent the pollen count soaring along with the spirits of the populace.

As I crossed to enter, I savored the warm air perfumed by narcissus and hyacinths. The clouds of oak and yellow pine pollen would come later, driving everyone inside and providing a bounty for car washes and sellers of antihistamines, but for now, the day was perfect.

Once inside the gift shop, I made my usual cursory circuit to see what was new since last month in the tempting array of gorgeous things. Fortunately for my budget, nothing sang to me, so I proceeded down the short flight of stairs to the restaurant foyer.

Funny, how you fall into ruts without ever realizing it till they're interrupted. I've always liked to get to our Red Hat luncheons first, before the tables fill and the floral padded walls rumble with a polite roar of female chatter and chairs scraping on the dark wood floors. Our regular waitress, Maria, always seats me at our usual banquette in the back corner and brings me fresh, no-cal hot lemonade right away, which I load with Sweet'N Low and sip slowly, taking advantage of the waiting quiet to shake off the mundane concerns of my life and focus on friendship.

But that morning when I entered the dining room from the bright yellow foyer, I saw that SuSu had already beaten me there for the third time in as many months-a total turnaround from her pathological lateness of the past two decades. I shook off a tiny stab of disappointment that I wouldn't have my settling-in time.

She waved, looking like a just-ripe Lauren Bacall in a red cashmere beret and bulky black turtleneck sweater over slim black slacks. She'd finally gotten with the program about wearing a red hat a year ago, but the purple clothing thing was still a no-go.

Talk about a makeover. Gone were the brassy red hair and too-young clothes from SuSu's bitter, wayward years following her divorce. With the help of Teeny's generosity, she'd aced her LSAT, gotten into Emory Law School, and adopted a whole new, professional look. Classic to the core in her smooth, shining, dark-honey, chin-length hair and elegant wardrobe (most of which came from Teeny's Perfect line of real-woman clothes) SuSu already looked like the domestic relations lawyer she would be when she graduated in another two years. Every time I saw her this way, it made my heart swell with pride for her.

As always, an aura of smoke-tainted perfume surrounded her.

She'd reformed, but not completely.

"How's school?" I asked.

We'd been busy praying all year for good grades, though SuSu had always been brilliantly book smart. It was just men she didn't have a lick of sense about.

"Brutal," she grumped. "And, Georgia, you'll never guess what my study group did to me."

I knew it was major; she rarely called me by name.

After all our years as friends, I fell instantly into the tried-and-true rhythm of our conversations. "No. What did your study group do to you?"

"They invited in a new guy without even asking me, then stuck me with him as a study partner for tort review," she fumed. "Probably stuck me with him because he's even older than I am. I guess the legal eaglets think it's pretty funny, but I sure don't."

The old SuSu would have cussed a blue streak next, but the new SuSu bottled that all up and minced out a tame, "I am so annoyed."

Maria arrived with warm mini muffins and took advantage of the break in conversation to ask me, "Excuse me, but would madam like the usual, or perhaps some fresh-brewed coffee this morning?"

Mmmmm. Coffee sounded good for a change. Iced tea season was still a few weeks away. "Coffee, please."

I returned to our conversation, surprised that SuSu would mind studying with a man "full-growed." Last fall she'd solemnly sworn off stud puppies, a resolution she'd already broken several times, but Tradition Eight (No beating ourselves up-or each other-when we blow it) had kept us from mentioning her "slips."

"Is he a problem?" I asked her.

"I'll say." SuSu adjusted her beret with her perfect American manicure. Gone were the red talons of the past. "He's the stupid, embarrassing Mattress Man!"

I tucked my chin. "The guy on those cable ads?" The one who stood there dressed in a blue baby bonnet and matching footed pajamas, singing mangled lullabies with his ukulele to promote his chain of mattress stores?

"Yes," SuSu bit out. "And he's as big an idiot as he looks."

Having been the gullible brunt of many a prank over the years, I eyed her with suspicion. Last time I looked, they didn't let idiots into Emory Law School. "You're kidding. This is some April Fools' joke, isn't it?"

SuSu glowered. "Do I look like I'm kidding?"

Mouth pursed, I shook my head.

"The joke's on me, kiddo, and the only April Fool is him. The guy's totally annoying. Always joking around when we should be studying." Her nostrils flared. "Not everybody has a photographic memory like he does."

I injected logic, futile though it was. "Ah. A photographic memory. Maybe that's why your study partners thought he could benefit the group."

SuSu would not be appeased. "Maybe so, but they at least should have asked me first."

I had to bite my lips to keep from laughing at the idea of SuSu, trapped, studying with a man who was famous for wearing a blue baby bonnet and footed pajamas on late-night TV ads. "I always thought he was kind of cute, in an older sort of way. Nice dimples."

"Well, he's bald as a mango under that baby bonnet," she grumbled.

"How can he go to law school and run those stores?" I wondered aloud.

"He doesn't. He sold them."

"But I just saw him on a new ad a few days ago."

Her mouth flattened. "That was part of the deal. They paid him a fortune to keep making the ads. At his age, you'd think he'd be embarrassed."

This, from the woman who'd come back from the bathroom at a charity fund-raiser at the Piedmont Driving Club dragging a toilet-paper comet, with her dress caught up in her sheer pantyhose, exposing half her fanny to high society. But SuSu's memory worked in adverse proportion to her alcohol consumption, so she probably didn't even remember it.

I looked up to see Linda stomping toward us, her usually sunny round face grim as thunder and her broad-brimmed red hat askew on her soft gray curls.

SuSu abandoned the subject of the Mattress Man. "Whoo," she murmured as Linda approached. "Looks like she's got a bee up her butt."

Very out of character for our level-headed Linda.

Linda dropped her open-topped Kate Spade bag by her chair as she plunked down into her regular seat beside me, then started fanning herself vigorously with her napkin, her plump neck red and mottled.

SuSu and I exchanged knowing looks, recognizing the symptoms immediately.

"At last," I crowed. "She's having a hot flash. Coming to join the rest of us on the shady side of the hill."

Linda glared at me like a bull eyeing a toreador. "It is not a hot flash," she snapped out. "And just because y'all have all gone through the change before me doesn't mean I have to."

"Oooooh," SuSu gloated. "Moody, moody, moody. Been there, done that. It's the hormones talking, baby. Estrogen in the major minuses." She patted Linda's arm. "Time to crank up the old HRT, and you'll be right as rain."

Linda recoiled from her touch, irate. "Contrary to your personal experience, SuSu," she snapped, "some people don't try to solve everything with a pill. Or a drink."

Whoa! Serious personal foul! We never discussed SuSu's drinking. Granted, it had grown progressively worse since her second husband had left her in the lurch, but SuSu was still fully functional. We accepted the drinking as her problem, and hers alone, to deal with. "Fixing" each other (unless it was a life-or-death situation) was strictly taboo.

Why Linda had said that was beyond me. I doubted even menopause would have sent her for the jugular that way. There had to be something else.

A look of deep concern overrode whatever offense SuSu might have felt. She leaned closer. "Linda, honey, what's the matter?"

Linda looked like she was about to burst into tears.

Copyright 2005 by Haywood Smith

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