Who Does She Think She Is?

Who Does She Think She Is?

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by Benilde Little

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Aisha Branch is engaged to Will Fitzhugh, and plans for their elaborate society wedding are in the works, when the unthinkable happens -- she falls for another man, hard. All the drama stirs up old feelings in her mother and grandmother, and as Aisha confronts a painful dilemma, the three Branch women take turns telling their own stories, reflecting separately on


Aisha Branch is engaged to Will Fitzhugh, and plans for their elaborate society wedding are in the works, when the unthinkable happens -- she falls for another man, hard. All the drama stirs up old feelings in her mother and grandmother, and as Aisha confronts a painful dilemma, the three Branch women take turns telling their own stories, reflecting separately on their lives, losses, and relationships.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Aisha Branch McCovney is a beautiful and stylish woman with Manhattan at her feet. She's also one of three generations of upwardly mobile black women who narrate this warm and indulgent fourth novel by Little (Good Hair). As Aisha prepares to marry her fabulously rich-and white-fiance, her mother, Camille, and grandmother, Geneva, reminisce about their own lifelong struggles with love and pragmatism. At 45, Camille is ready to say good-bye to being a full-time single mother and hello to a love life of her own. Geneva, Aisha's grandmother, looks back on her marriage to a charming jazz musician, admittedly "a better father than he was a husband." Geneva and Camille are not surprised when Aisha spontaneously dumps her WASPy fiance for Miles, a successful, self-made black man. Aisha's sassy narration is peppered with enough au courant references-from Botox to Ugg boots-to keep the voice fresh and authentic, though one that may date quickly. Little strikes a nice balance between heartfelt intergenerational saga and sexy love story, a balance that tips toward sentimentality when Aisha finds her calling through an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show. Awkward pacing is a distraction, but readers will be too busy cheering for these women's bold self-improvements to care. Agent, Faith Hampton Childs. (May) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Three women talk about love. Young, beautiful, used to getting her way, Aisha Branch is planning a wedding as ostentatious as her engagement ring. Her daddy barely blinks when she picks out a $7,000 gown, and her fiance-a seriously rich white boy-is able to offer her the choice of several family estates for the ceremony. Everything changes, though, when Aisha falls for an enigmatic older man. Little (Acting Out, 2003, etc.) brings out some sharp social commentary through the contrasts between newly affluent African-Americans, on the one hand, and Upper East Siders, on the other, who had ancestors on the Mayflower. But, unfortunately, her heroine is too status-conscious and materialistic to be appealing, and Aisha's signs of character growth-when she finally does get married, she buys a dress off the rack-aren't very convincing. Meanwhile, her mother, Camille, and her grandmother, Geneva, are much more engaging, and the story does considerably better for itself when they do the talking. Camille got pregnant at 19 and later spent her life doing what she could for others-both as a mother and as a social worker. Now, at middle-age, she rediscovers herself as a sexual being and forges a life-changing friendship with the mother of Aisha's biological father. As for Geneva, although apparently the very model of "Negro respectability," she surprised everyone-even herself-by falling in love with a jazz musician. She spent most of her marriage on the road with him, creating an all but unbridgeable distance between her and her children. By end, though, she's overcome the disappointments and prejudices that made reconciliation with them impossible. It's a rare novel that depicts older women as realpeople capable of change, which makes Little's portrayal of Camille and Geneva as admirable as it is entertaining. In all, then, a multigenerational cast turns mediocre chick-lit into a refreshingly different kind of contemporary romance.
From the Publisher
"A diverting story about race, identity, and family ties."

"Fans of the author's novels will enjoy Little's perceptive take on Buppies in love."

"The tightly written story moves quickly and the supporting characters are wonderfully realistic."
The Philadelphia Inquirer

"A refreshingly different kind of contemporary romance."
Kirkus Reviews

"Little strikes a nice balance between heartfelt intergenerational saga and sexy love story."
Publishers Weekly

"Little strikes the perfect balance between froth and thoughtful commentary on racial and class issues. Little has the guts to drop plenty of tough questions at the heart of what is an enjoyable romantic romp."
The Miami Herald

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Chapter One

Aisha Branch McCovney, daughter of Camille Branch and stepdaughter of Lemuel McCovney of Llewellyn Park, will marry Harrison "Will" Fitzhugh, son of Meredith Powell Fitzhugh Martin of New York and Venice and William Garrison Fitzhugh of New York and Millbrook. The couple will wed at the groom's family home in Newport, Rhode Island next June.

The bride, twenty-six, graduated from Newark Academy in Livingston and cum laude from the University of Virginia, and is an assistant media buyer with Rowe/Day, the advertising firm. The groom, twenty-seven, graduated from Harvard and the Sorbonne, and is an art director at the same firm, which is where the couple met.

The bride's stepfather is the senior partner of the law firm McCovney, Lewis & Brown, in East Orange. The bride's mother is the head of social work at the Newark Emergency Services for Children.

The bridegroom's father is a private investor. The bridegroom's mother is a painter. The bridegroom's great-grandfather, Garrison Granger Fitzhugh, was founding partner of the Continental Insurance Company; his grandfather, Granger William Fitzhugh, was CEO. The groom's maternal great-grandfather founded Mercantile Steel.

Geneva sighed and neatly folded a copy of the hometown newspaper, placing it on the kitchen table so that Mabel, the lady who comes twice a week to tidy things up a bit, could see the announcement. Baby girl getting married, Mabel would say. Seems like just yesterday she was runnin' through this house wit' me yellin' after her to slow down. Always was in a rush. That little girl was someum' else. Marrying a White boy, a rich White boy. You go 'head,Miss I-esh-a. Miss Geneva can die a happy woman now--her grandbaby finally doing it right, she'd say, always emphasizing the I sound at the beginning of her name, I-e-sha, driving Geneva crazy in the process.

The phones started ringing, as Geneva knew they would once the news landed in the Beacon-Herald.

"Yes, Pearl, that's my little Aisha. Mm-hmm, she's twenty-six already. I know, seems like we just had her christened."

"Yes, I'm very pleased. He's a very nice young man, comes from a very respectable family."

"Well, I know, you seeing more and more of it these days. The girls say there just aren't that many of our men to go around, you know, who are going on, finishing their education and stretching themselves."

"Yes, I suppose you're right. It's a different world."

"Alright now, mmmm, and thank you for calling. Yes, see you at church."

"'Bye now."

She hung up her kitchen wall phone.

There was still a lot to be done. Camille is so lackadaisical. You have to stay on her about every detail. She was supposed to start calling florists to get estimates. She gets so caught up with her so-called clients and tryin' to save the world, she'd forget her own head if it wasn't attached and if it didn't have all that hair and mess everywhere.

Geneva exhaled in exasperation, as she'd been doing for most of Camille's forty-five years. She took a last sip of tea and put the cup in the sink, turned on the water and swirled it around the ring in the cup.

At seventy she had more energy than many twenty years younger.

"Ew, look at the time," she said to no one. "I'm going to be late for service."

Geneva would not be late; she never was, for anything. What she would be was not early. She'd already laid out what she was going to wear -- her coral suit, matching hat, beige pumps, hose and purse.

She was alone now in the high ranch she and her late husband, Major, had bought with an eye toward their twilight years. Now, the wide halls and spacious rooms were too much for just one person, but she couldn't bring herself to part with it. If she really tried she could still smell Major's aftershave in the master bath and the smell comforted her, just the way she liked -- in private.

Geneva wheeled her late model Buick around the church parking lot, mumbling curse words because her usual parking space was taken, as were all the choice spots. And to add insult, she didn't even know the offender. Used to be time when she knew everybody who was a member of First Presbyterian, but now they got all kinds of new people coming in, driving these awful trucks, vans, SUBs, whatever they're called, taking up two spaces. It's just abominable. Camille and Lem of course had one and had the nerve to be a Cadillac -- it's just foolishness. Geneva ended up having to park on the street. Walking up to the church, seeing it from the front, she was struck by how beautiful the architecture was and for a moment she felt sad that Aisha wouldn't be getting married there. It would be nice to continue the tradition, but what was she talking about, Camille killed that idea a long time ago, going and getting herself in trouble like some common...

The sedate organ music took Geneva's mind off her daughter for a while and she smiled as she walked down the aisle to her seat in the third pew, right aisle. She mouthed thank-yous to the ladies who wordlessly complimented her hat, and sat down.

Marjorie Blessitt sang "How Blessed Thou Art" and Geneva let the music soothe her soul.

Copyright © 2005 by Benilde Little

Meet the Author

Benilde Little is the bestselling author of the novels Good Hair (selected as one of the ten best books of 1996 by the Los Angeles Times), The Itch, Acting Out, and Who Does She Think She Is? A former reporter for People and senior editor at Essence, she lives in Montclair, New Jersey, with her husband, two children, and a dog. Read her blog Welcome to My Breakdown at BenildeLittle.Wordpress.com.

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Who Does She Think She Is? 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
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Three generations of women are the centerpiece of Who Does She Think She Is - a novel that examines the quest for fulfillment. Twenty-six year old Aisha Branch is engaged to a wealthy white man. Camille, her mother, has fairly strong feelings regarding the engagement. And Geneva, the matriarch of the family, is good for some old-fashioned wisdom which she carefully imparts to her granddaughter.  For the mercurial Camille, questions arise about a father she¿s never known, and a love that she wishes she could have, and she isn¿t referring to her current husband-to-be. So when she¿s introduced to another captivating man, the life that she¿s known comes to a gridlock. And through many conversations with her mother, her grandmother, and good but flaky girlfriend Cedra, Aisha braves much self-exploration to show herself who she is, and who she is not. Written with a sophisticated style that tenderly and honestly explores women¿s issues, Benilde Little has penned another moving and insightful novel about how to trust your instincts even when your life is filled with uncertainty.