The Red Hat Club Rides Againby Haywood Smith
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
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.
“A tribute to women who emerged victorious through divorce, menopause, spreading waistlines, and other tribulations.” Chicago Tribune on THE RED HAT CLUB
“The Red Hat Club is a valuable life lesson for women of all ages...a spunky, sexy, intriguing, lickety-split romp.” Times (Roanoke, VA)
“A gossipy, engaging read, full of witty Southern characters readers will be unable to resist the urge to cheer on.” Florida Times-Union 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.” Booklist on THE RED HAT CLUB
“Rowdy Southern feminist fantasy.” Kirkus Reviews on THE RED HAT CLUB
“The Red Hat Club ladies are just Bridget, older, wiser, and with husbands who may or may not be faithful.” Toronto Sun
“A fine, confiding...voice, which makes for a fast, easy read. Her dialogue is true to life. She has a wicked sense of humor.” Bookreporter.com on THE RED HAT CLUB
“Inspiring...fun to read.” Romantic Times 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.” Tennessean 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.” Chattanooga Times on THE RED HAT CLUB
“A great story with many fond memories for anyone who had a group of ladies in their high school.” Book Review Café on THE RED HAT CLUB
“An engaging tale that welcomes readers as if they were sharing wine with the heroines...fans of women's fiction will appreciate Haywood Smith's fine homage to the southern female.” Harriet's Book Reviews on THE RED HAT CLUB
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Read an Excerpt
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
Meet the Author
Baby boomer HAYWOOD SMITH (born Anne Haywood Pritchett) grew up as one of five children in North Atlanta, Georgia. Inspired by Jenny Joseph's free-spirited poem, "Warning," Haywood writes lighthearted coming-of-middle age tributes to the Jilted Generation of women who, like her, have emerged victorious through divorce, teenaged children, menopause, the Internet, tennis elbow, spreading waistlines, nothing but tacky clothes in the stores, and countless other modern tribulations.
- Buford, Georgia
- Date of Birth:
- April 21, 1949
- Place of Birth:
- Atlanta, Georgia
- One year of college and several professional real estate degrees and appraisal certifications
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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This was a perfect vacation type of story. The characters were all interesting & mostly humorous. I loved the part about Las Vegas "kidnapping." These ladies loved and looked out for one another, very endearing! It was a page turner, to be sure!
Haywood Smith writes books that have such hysterically funny portions that I laugh out loud and my husband wants to know what is funny, so I read him portions of the books and he always laughs, too. All of these books are eagerly awaited.
When I click on author's website, it appears that this author's website is no more (same goes for keying in author's website directly). Does anyone have any additional info on what's going on?
Is it me, or does the author tries just a bit too hard to make this book as funny and hard-to-put-down as the first one?
After reading The Red Hat Club I was anxious to continue reading about what has transpired with the characters Georgia, SuSu, Teeny, Diane, and Linda. I was very disappointed in this sequel. I think Haywood Smith went too far out on a limb with Teeny having all that money and treating the 'girls' to extravagances. The Vegas kidnapping was funny but the one-month, carte blanche plastic surgery cruise that she arranged for them all was unbelievable and really ruined it for me. The internet dating part was good, the pregnancy test hillarious but it's just that gosh darned extravagance with Teeny is hard to take. Not a world that we the readers can relate to. The party at the end also was unbelievable and far fetched. I was very let down after having finished this book. Is there a sequel? If so, I hope it will be more down to earth than this one. I'm still a fan of Haywood Smith and the Red Hat Girls, I hope I can get caught up in the lives of these women again.
I picked this up as a followup to the first book. While I did enjoy it, it does not stand out among the better books I have read. Probably better for an older crowd.
Most are familiar with the historic warning cry, 'The Redcoats are coming! 'The Redcoats are coming!' Today, according to author Haywood Smith (born Anne Haywood Pritchett), the rallying cry should be 'The Red Hats are coming! The Red Hats are coming!' What is it about Southern women (Steel Magnolias, Being Dead Is No Excuse, etc) that makes them such fascinating protagonists? Don't know what their secret is - just that it works. 'The Red Hat Club Rides Again' is a tribute to all women in midlife who have suffered a few setbacks and bounced back. (It's a bit like the bravado song 'I'm Still Here.) Of course, not all in that age group are fortunate enough to have a multi millionairess gal pal who can grease any number of wheels and make life a lark. So, reality isn't an issue here. If you enjoy an imaginative romp, give a listen to this group as they set sail for a plastic surgery cruise and jet off to Las Vegas to rescue a friend. Cynthia Darlow deserves a sequin embroidered red hat for her entertaining voice performance - never too much drawl, always pinpoint articulation and timing. - Gail Cooke
Though the membership are all in their fifties, the Red Hats still meet every month for lunch though their choice of locale has changed somewhat since Teeny has twenty million earned during the Clinton stock market boom to waste. Instead of always a high class Atlanta area location, the group also meets elsewhere incuding the Bahamas though that was part of a month long plastic-surgery extreme makeovers cruise.--- When member Pru breaks the substance abuse tenet of the twelve commandments, her southern sisters (Georgia, SuSu, Diane, Linda, and of course Teeny ¿ someone has to pay for this extravaganza) ignoring tradition 5 of minding your own business, converge on Las Vegas. Sin City is not prepared for the invasion of the Red Hats who plan to intervene and kidnap Pru so that they can take her to clean herself up in the Rockies at an exclusive rehab center, but first they must play the slots.--- The Red Hat Club once again proves that life begins at fifty as these Southern steel magnolias refuse to allow time or family relationships to interfere with their long time friendships. The current tale is intriguingly deep yet irreverent as the members satirically assault anything in their way, just ask Elton John, who will surely wear a red hat in his next public appearance. Haywood Smith provides a warm delightful tale of strong friendships that mean helping one another live life to the fullest.--- Harriet Klausner