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The Wilde Women

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Overview

Paula Wall, the national bestselling author of The Rock Orchard, returns with another witty, wise, and romantic tale of two sisters with a talent for seduction and the unfortunate habit of falling for the wrong man every time.

The Wilde sisters dove headfirst into this world on fire with life and expectation. With hair black as midnight and eyes blazing blue, they grow into truly irresistible women. But as well as being blessed with beauty and determination, the Wilde sisters ...

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The Wilde Women: A Novel

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Overview

Paula Wall, the national bestselling author of The Rock Orchard, returns with another witty, wise, and romantic tale of two sisters with a talent for seduction and the unfortunate habit of falling for the wrong man every time.

The Wilde sisters dove headfirst into this world on fire with life and expectation. With hair black as midnight and eyes blazing blue, they grow into truly irresistible women. But as well as being blessed with beauty and determination, the Wilde sisters are cursed with equal tastes for mischief and bad men. And both of these appetites always lead to trouble. Love either lifts a woman up or drags her down. When a Wilde woman dies, they don't have to dig a hole.

On Black Friday in Five Points, Tennessee, Pearl Wilde finds her sister, Kat, in the barn wearing both her favorite shoes and her fiancé. As quick to fury as she is to passion, Pearl leaves town immediately. She returns five years later a sophisticated femme fatale, with her claws sharpened like stainless steel and a demeanor so cool that the townspeople can no longer tell if she even has sweat glands. Slowly and deliberately, Pearl begins her revenge on Kat by captivating all the men of Five Points, but all the while never forgetting the one man who had the power to break her heart.

In The Wilde Women, Paula Wall once again bewitches the reader with humor, sass, smarts, and sensuality, creating a hilarious and beguiling world where sometimes the best revenge is forgiveness.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Wall's second novel (after The Rock Orchard) follows two beautiful, smart, sexually provocative, self-assured sisters whose dalliances captivate their small Southern hometown. Five Points, Tenn., has been brought low by the depression, but the residents retain their interest in the Wilde sisters' feud, which began when Pearl caught her younger sister Kat inappropriately entertaining Bourne Cavanagh, Pearl's fiancé and the heir to a whiskey distillery empire. Pearl disappears and travels the world, sending Kat a tersely worded postcard every month. Sassy and brash Kat stays behind and toys with the town's menfolk, including Mason Hughes, whose wealthy family owns the shirt factory where Kat works. Pearl sashays home after a few years and opens a high-class bordello that caters to the rich and powerful, while Kat continues to entice and evade Mason. Vignettes about secondary characters bog down the momentum, and while some are whimsically entertaining, they are more distracting than narrative-enriching. Fans of Southern women's fiction will forgive the meandering plot and be drawn in by the author's wit. (Apr.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal
Poor Pearl; she fled town after interrupting her fianc 's tryst with her sister. But she comes back one cool (and scary) cookie. A second novel after the highly praised The Rock Orchard; with a four-city tour. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780743496216
  • Publisher: Atria Books
  • Publication date: 4/17/2007
  • Pages: 310
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Paula Wall
Paula Wall is the author of the national bestseller The Rock Orchard, as well as two collections of short pieces, My Love Is Free . . . But the Rest of Me Don’t Come Cheap and If I Were a Man, I’d Marry Me. The latter was a semifinalist for the Thurber Prize. She currently lives outside of Nashville in a converted barn on 150 acres at the foot of the Highland Rim. Her nearest neighbor is one mile down the road, which, frankly, is a little too close for comfort. Visit her website at www.PaulaWall.com.

Biography

In 1996, Paula Wall took a couple of "snippets" she'd written to her local newspaper. One year later, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists named her Humor Columnist of the Year. Wall's column, Off the Wall, went on to become Universal Press Syndicate's #3 Internet column after Dear Abby and News of the Weird, with a weekly readership of over 8 million. She was also a finalist for the Thurber Prize.

Two collections of her columns were published: My Love is Free... But the Rest of Me Don't Come Cheap, and If I Were A Man, I'd Marry Me, which stayed on the Top Requested Humor Books List for 28 weeks, sandwiched between Ben Stiller and George Carlin, a position where Wall says she had always longed to be.

The Rock Orchard is Wall's first novel. She lives on a farm in Tennessee where she writes in a closet.

Biography courtesy of the author's official web site.

Good To Know

Some fun outtakes from our interview with Wall:

"I'm a verbal klutz. I'm always mixing up words. A couple of weeks ago my Better-half and I were at a bookstore looking at magazines and I asked him if the actress on one of the covers had been ‘auto-shopped.' He said, "You mean, ‘Photo-shopped?' Then, he took a closer look and said dryly, "On second thought, considering the amount of body work done, you had it right the first time.'"

"I never look in the mirror until it's too late. I just throw on clothes and go. Better-half and I were standing at the checkout and a little kid behind us tugged on his mother's sweater and whispered, ‘Mommy, is she poor?' I looked down and I was wearing jeans I'd had since college. The knees were gone, the seat was a mere memory, and there was a dab of paint from every house I'd ever lived in. Better-half had been trying to get me to pitch them for years.

‘See,' he said, ‘it's time to retire those rags.'

‘But they make me look thin!'

‘Honey, if that butt looked any bigger the U. S. Post Office would assign it a zip code.'"

"Bury me on a bed of moss. I'm a country girl to the marrow of my bones. Better-half, on the other hand, thinks a four-star hotel is roughing it. Several times a year he drags me to Manhattan and tries to rub some culture into me. Within fifteen minutes, I'm on a first name basis with the hotel staff, asking about their kids, and trading recipes."

"Last summer, in an effort to make me feel more at home in the Big Apple, Better-half rented bikes, and we rode around Central Park and the Upper East Side. Even the squirrels' fur coats were haute couture. As he eyed a gazelle-looking jogger (and she eyed him back), he turned to me and said ‘See, there is wildlife in the city.'"

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    1. Also Known As:
      P. S. Wall
    2. Hometown:
      Nashville, Tennessee
    1. Date of Birth:
      1954
    2. Place of Birth:
      Clarksville, Tennessee
    1. Education:
      B.S., Environmental Science, Austin Peay State University
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

The Wilde Women

A Novel
By Paula Wall

Atria

Copyright © 2007 Paula Wall
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780743496216

ONE

The stock market crash in 1929 was not the only event that darkened that black Friday in Five Points, Tennessee. That was the day Pearl Wilde found her little sister moaning in the springhouse next to the butter molds. It was cool and dark, but Pearl had no doubt it was her only sibling. Along with her favorite pair of shoes, Kat was wearing Pearl's fiancé.

Naturally, Pearl put all the blame on her sister. A man is like a water well -- he has absolutely no control over who primes his pump.

"This is all your fault!" Pearl screamed, stabbing her finger at Kat's legs sticking straight up in the air.

Slowly, Bourne Cavanagh looked back over his broad bare shoulder, his handsome face blurred with whiskey and desire. Pearl sank into those watery blue eyes like an unholy baptism and her resolve began to dissolve. Bourne knew all he had to do was say the right thing and Pearl would be begging him for forgiveness.

"Please, darlin'," he slurred. "Give me just one more minute."

It just shows how low a woman is willing to go that, for a full thirty seconds, Pearl considered it. But then something rose up inside her, something so deep she didn't know she had it in her. Grabbing the empty whiskey bottle that rolled on the floor, she threw it with all she had. Bourne'shand flew to his face as the bottle smashed against the wall, but not fast enough to stop the shard of glass from slicing him from brow to cheek. He touched his fingers to his face and stared at his blood. Then his eyes slowly rose to Pearl's. The look that passed between them said it all. But then body language had always been their preferred form of communication.

Ripping her shoes off Kat's dirty feet, Pearl caught the first train out of town.

The next three years of Pearl Wilde's life are somewhat murky. Frank Merrill, the pharmacist, thought he spotted her getting into a shiny black limousine in Chicago, but the man with her roughly assured Frank he was mistaken. How Pearl ascended from Five Points into a Chicago limousine was a mystery, but everyone knew she had been born to climb.

Then halfway through Grand Hotel, Eddie McCowan jumped up and pointed at the flickering screen. "That's Pearl Wilde!" he cried out in the dark theater. Dickie Deason, who worked the camera booth on weekends at the Roxy, rewound the projector and played the scene over and over until the film finally snagged and hung. They watched quietly as Pearl's face melted away, but the vision of her covered in shimmering rhinestones and sipping champagne from a long-stemmed glass was forever burned into their minds.

The only other hint of Pearl's whereabouts was the postcards that arrived every month postmarked New Orleans, Chicago, New York, Paris, Rome, Berlin, and some place in the Orient nobody at the post office had ever heard of. Regardless of the card's origin, the message was always the same.

"Kat Wilde, I still hope you burn in Hell!"

"Pearl always did have beautiful penmanship," Miss Mabel Hilliard said, running her finger over the exotic stamp with a touch of longing. "And she was a persistent child. Once she sank her teeth in, there was no letting go."

Miss Mabel had been enlightening the bright and the dull alike in the one-room schoolhouse on the Ridge for over forty years. She knew every child in Five Points who had made it to adulthood, and every fall she planted chrysanthemums on the neglected graves of those who hadn't.

"That Pearl Wilde was a looker." The postmaster put in his two cents' worth as he stamped an inkpad and then a stack of envelopes with a rhythmic thud.

"Her sister Kathryn is just as pretty," Miss Mabel said resolutely.

Being a progressive teacher, Miss Mabel treated all her students equally, even when they weren't. She'd had both Wilde girls in her class and knew what they were made of. Born less than a year apart, the sisters were as different as the sun and the moon and just as reluctant to be outshined.

The Lord dealt each Wilde girl a winning hand -- looks, luck, brains, and each other. But like most gamblers they were determined to play the man, not the cards. Pearl slipped from the womb offering her hand to the doctor, while Kat shoved the old bonesetter out of the way and crawled out of her own accord.

Pearl entertained herself with her mother's makeup and jewelry while Kat tossed her dolls aside in favor of the rusty toolbox her mother's latest lover left outside the bedroom door. In school, Kat knew the answer before the question was given. Pearl knew anything taught in a one-room schoolhouse would be of little use to her. Kat could beat any boy at any contest with one hand tied behind her back. Boys surrendered to Pearl just as easily, but it was usually his hands that were tied. Kat was a hellcat, Pearl as pampered and sultry as a Persian with a rhinestone collar.

"Everyone always overestimated Pearl and underestimated Kathryn," Miss Mabel said absently, as she turned the postcard over to study the painting of a winding red dragon on the front. "The serious are always taken more seriously than the lighthearted, the assumption being that happy people are too dim to know they are unhappy."

Pearl had a diamond-shaped beauty mark at the corner of her mouth and that set her tone. There was no doubt in anyone's mind she would make something of herself. Just as there was no doubt that Kat, being the spitting image of her mother, would fritter her life away. But Miss Mabel did not judge a book by its cover, or a child by the mother who bore her.

"Kathryn was a smart child. She could do math better than any of my boys."

Miss Annabelle, the town telephone operator, huffed. "Kat Wilde dropped out of the womb a little smart aleck all right."

"She was a gay child," Miss Mabel corrected.

"Kat gets her gayness from her mother," Annabelle declared to the postmaster, as if he didn't already know. "Lorna Wilde would have tap-danced on the Titanic. My barn cat is a better mother than Lorna Wilde was to those girls."

At that, Miss Mabel was silenced. She could not defend Lorna Wilde's mothering or lack thereof. Lorna Wilde had always been a wing walker. She didn't let go of one man until she had a firm grip on the next. It was a preoccupation that didn't leave much time for motherhood. The sisters reared each other and did their best to raise Lorna up, as well. Despite their efforts, nothing elevated Lorna's mind much higher than a mattress.

"Lorna Wilde." Mayor Hardin Wallace sighed the name as he tacked a city council meeting notice onto the post office bulletin board. "Now there was the real looker in the family. Had legs from here to eternity."

Hardin was immediately sorry that he'd said it. It was not something a politician should say in mixed company, especially when his wife is standing in the mix.

June Wallace sucked in a quick ragged breath and a stricken look came over her perpetually furled face. Hardin braced himself for the scene that was sure to follow. The only thing worse than being married to a jealous woman was being married to a crazy jealous woman. Crazy June Bug Wallace was well established on both counts. Not the best situation for a man with one eye on the governor's mansion and the other eye on the legs of every woman in town.

Clutching her pocketbook to her breast, June ran out of the post office, Hardin right behind her.

"Now, June Bug," he pleaded on his way out the door, "you know you are the love of my life."

Everyone in the post office watched through the front window without much interest. The Wallaces' marital strife was, after all, old news. Then Miss Mabel passed the postcard to Annabelle and the two old maids continued their debate about the Wilde women. Since the government had yet to start taxing gossip, it still traded freely in Five Points. By the end of the day everyone in town had examined the latest postcard and presented it as evidence to support their preexisting position. The optimists insisted Pearl had married a rich man, maybe some kind of royalty, and was living a life of leisure. The pessimists, whose standing in life was only improved by the failure of others, insisted no woman except a missionary's wife would dirty the soles of her shoes in the heathen Orient. If there was one thing everyone did agree on, it was that while Pearl Wilde was no doubt spreading something, it sure as hell wasn't the word of God. Needless to say, by the time Kat picked up her mail, the picture of the exotic red dragon had been all but rubbed away.

In December of 1932, no postcard came. That and the Depression caused a gray gloom to settle over the already depressed little town. There were no jobs, no money, and no hope. To add to their despair, an ice storm moved in on Christmas Eve. The temperature dropped so fast the mercury could not keep up. Every surface glazed with sooty ice and the town square seemed made of black glass. Along with the economy, Mother Nature had also turned against them.

While the women stuffed old newspapers into the whistling cracks around the windows to keep out the biting cold, the men sat slumped at the kitchen table. They stared into their coffee cups trying to build up the courage to leave home and travel north to the steel mills. Of course, no man wanted to live like a red-eyed rat in a mill town, sweltering six days a week on swing shift, sucking soot, and having holes branded into his skin from the molten metal spitting out of the giant crucibles. He might as well skip life and go straight to hell. But it paid thirty-six cents an hour. So the question became, at what price was he willing to sell his soul?

Outside, electric lines bowed and ice-glazed trees snapped like swizzle sticks. The wine at St. Jerome's Church turned to a bloodred slush in the Communion cup and icicles hung from the slated eaves like crystal cat teeth. When the buzzards roosting in the tangled old oak tree in the church cemetery tried to take flight, their frozen wings were so heavy with ice they flopped to the ground and froze there.

A cold, gray silence fell over Five Points. Layers of ice frosted the wooden nativity scene until the features blurred and Midnight Mass was canceled. Those who didn't want to waste precious money on lighting, and those who didn't have any money to waste, crawled into bed at dusk.

And so, the town was asleep when Pearl Wilde stepped off the train at the Five Points depot.

"Pearl Wilde?" Pewitt the porter asked, as though seeing a ghost. "Is that really you?"

She had always been a fast girl. Now, from the looks of her, she traveled at the speed of light -- blue-black hair bobbed, lips bloodred, eyes smudged in charcoal liner. She wore a white cashmere dress under a full-length white chinchilla coat. Even Pewitt knew a woman wasn't supposed to wear white after Labor Day. From the looks of her, Pearl Wilde shouldn't wear white at all.

"Folks have been wondering about you," he said, as though it were an accusation.

The decisions a woman makes make the woman, which at least partially explains why when a man looked at Pearl with eyes half drawn like bedroom shades and an attitude cool as cotton sheets, his thoughts immediately turned to an unmade bed. Pewitt did the math and figured she must be around twenty-seven now. Twenty-seven was getting up there for a woman by Five Points' standards. But while Pearl had hardened during her absence, she had not aged. The ice in her veins had preserved her.

She was still as aloof as a cat. Pewitt always thought she had a big head, the way she stood back and watched the world without expression. He'd never found the courage to talk to her when they were young. But he was a man now, married, two kids, and an employee for the L&N Railroad. And it was just the two of them standing on that platform in the dark.

"Lord," he said in a husky voice his wife would not have recognized, "you sure are looking good."

While he stomped his feet and beat his gloved hands together to keep from freezing, Pearl seemed oblivious to the cold. Her coat hung open and the slit up her dress flapped in the wind. Pewitt's eyes fixed on her leg, praying for a glimpse of more.

Taking a long slow draw off her cigarette, Pearl took a detached look around. As a rule, Pewitt never got involved, not even in his own life. But that night he followed her stare to the crumpled newspapers blowing on the street, the faded paint peeling off the train station, and the boarded-up storefront windows grimy with soot and apathy. Then her eyes landed on him. Pewitt pulled his arms up in his coat sleeves to hide his ragged cuffs.

"Times have been hard here since you left," he said as if to apologize for the state of affairs.

An apology is not an admission of guilt. Pewitt was, after all, just a porter at the train station. What can one man do? There was no expression on Pearl's face one way or the other.

"Are you home for good," he asked to fill the silence, "or just passing through?"

Taking one last drag off her cigarette, she dropped the spent butt onto the gritty platform and ground it into memory with the toe of her high-heeled shoe. A wisp of white smoke lingered at her parted lips as she gazed past him. The look on her face was so cold, Porter felt sure a man's mouth would freeze to her lips if he tried to kiss her.

"I've decided to open a whorehouse."

Copyright © 2007 by Paula Wall



Continues...


Excerpted from The Wilde Women by Paula Wall Copyright © 2007 by Paula Wall. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Introduction

The Wilde Women

By Paula Wall

At every crossroad in life, there is always one right choice.

Inevitably, Wilde woman go left.

Fidela abandons a good man at the altar, damning him to a life of hate and bitterness; Lorna prefers to spend her time bedding other women's fiancés instead of raising her own daughters; and Kat betrays her sister Pearl, who runs away heartbroken only to return three years later to unleash her revenge in the form of a whorehouse. But, as the residents of Five Points, Tennessee, are quick to point out — what else would you expect from the women who share the last name Wilde?

In Paula Wall's saucy southern novel, a town beaten down by the Depression is brought back to life by the bad blood boiling between Kat and Pearl Wilde. While one sister builds a business based on pleasing men, the other builds a life hell-bent on pleasing herself. Trapped between the fiery women are the men that desire them, the town that loves to hate them, and the spirits that haunt them.

Although it explores serious themes — hate and forgiveness, love and betrayal, living up to a father's expectations and living down a mother's curse, The Wilde Women is an untamed, sassy read by an author who "has the southerner's warm gift for metaphor and a northerner's cool aptitude for telling it like it is" (Kirkus Reviews).

Questions and Topics for Discussion:

1. "The sins of the mother are visited upon the daughter" (page 4). Other than the Wilde women, what other character could this be said of? Discuss the role of motherhood in this novel.

2. "Maysie realized she was alone in the world. But then mostwomen are; they just don't know it" (page 36). How are women, as a whole, portrayed in Wall's book? Do you agree or disagree with her observations?

3. "The South is haunted by the ghosts of grandeur past" (page 40). What haunts the main characters in The Wilde Women? How do each deal with their demons?

4. Where do you think the fifth arrow points to on the town's landmark rock?

5. "There is nothing in the world harder to give up than a good strong hate. It gets the blood boiling and gives a man purpose and direction" (page 87). Which characters in the novel are consumed by hate and why?

6. Discuss the significance of various images from the book: a fresh brown egg; a tube of red lipstick; a rag doll filled with lavender; a Jesus Saves oven mitt; and an engagement ring worn only in sleep.

7. "Bourne glided through life as though greased while Devin fought Lady Luck with both fists raised" (page 146). Although different, what do the Cavanagh brothers have in common with each other?

8. "Pearl had found enormous freedom in her ruined reputation" (page 168). What advantages does Pearl's reputation provide her? Does Kat feel the same about her own reputation? What is ironic about these characters contributions to their judgmental town?

9. The following lines could all be considered the main theme of the novel. Which do you think best sums up the theme? Why?

a. "Love lifts a woman up or drags her down" (page 5).

b. "Ultimately, forgiveness is a leap of faith, and the odds are fifty-fifty you'll be crippled by the fall" (page 258).

c. "If a person didn't know what to look for, they would never see it" (page 303).

d. "It isn't the hand you're dealt in life — it's the hands that hold the cards" (page 221).

Readers Tips

1. Research Five Points, TN, and reveal your findings with your book club.

2. Take your book club to one of the author's appearances (www.paulawall.com).

3. Draw a family tree of the Wildes, Hughes, and Cavanaghs — then see where those three trees connect.

4. Name each character described below:"Underneath the pomp and polish was pure wolf — hungry and dangerous" (Answer on page 59).

"She had never read a book in her life, including the one she lived by" (Answer on page 96).

"She had skin the color of maple syrup, a thick black braid down her back, and wet brown eyes that promised to haunt a man" (Answer on page 138).

"He had a hairpin temper and a body coiled tight as a copperhead" (Answer on page 144).

"His dance with death turned him into a philosophical man. And the philosophy that he had come to believe in was the survival of the fittest" (Answer on page 160).

"Kindness was the only thing she never saw coming" (Answer on page 167).

"On the best of days, he was treated like lox and bagels in a basket of fishes and loaves" (Answer on page 210).

"Independence was a lonely place to live, but once she'd been there a while, she could never go back" (Answer on page 230).

"She was so securely perched on the top rung of society that she had nothing to gain by looking down at others" (Answer on page 243).

"It was as if the stork dropped him in the wrong town to begin with" (Answer on page 276).

"He woke up in more strange beds than his own, thinking only of the next warm body he'd pin to the sheets" (Answer on page 180).

"She could not stand a man who lacked conviction, even if that conviction was getting her into the backseat of his car" (Answer on page 238).

Read More Show Less

Reading Group Guide

The Wilde Women

By Paula Wall

At every crossroad in life, there is always one right choice.

Inevitably, Wilde woman go left.

Fidela abandons a good man at the altar, damning him to a life of hate and bitterness; Lorna prefers to spend her time bedding other women's fiancés instead of raising her own daughters; and Kat betrays her sister Pearl, who runs away heartbroken only to return three years later to unleash her revenge in the form of a whorehouse. But, as the residents of Five Points, Tennessee, are quick to point out — what else would you expect from the women who share the last name Wilde?

In Paula Wall's saucy southern novel, a town beaten down by the Depression is brought back to life by the bad blood boiling between Kat and Pearl Wilde. While one sister builds a business based on pleasing men, the other builds a life hell-bent on pleasing herself. Trapped between the fiery women are the men that desire them, the town that loves to hate them, and the spirits that haunt them.

Although it explores serious themes — hate and forgiveness, love and betrayal, living up to a father's expectations and living down a mother's curse, The Wilde Women is an untamed, sassy read by an author who "has the southerner's warm gift for metaphor and a northerner's cool aptitude for telling it like it is" (Kirkus Reviews).

Questions and Topics for Discussion:

1. "The sins of the mother are visited upon the daughter" (page 4). Other than the Wilde women, what other character could this be said of? Discuss the role of motherhood in this novel.

2. "Maysie realized she was alone in the world. But then most women are; they just don't know it" (page 36). How are women, as a whole, portrayed in Wall's book? Do you agree or disagree with her observations?

3. "The South is haunted by the ghosts of grandeur past" (page 40). What haunts the main characters in The Wilde Women? How do each deal with their demons?

4. Where do you think the fifth arrow points to on the town's landmark rock?

5. "There is nothing in the world harder to give up than a good strong hate. It gets the blood boiling and gives a man purpose and direction" (page 87). Which characters in the novel are consumed by hate and why?

6. Discuss the significance of various images from the book: a fresh brown egg; a tube of red lipstick; a rag doll filled with lavender; a Jesus Saves oven mitt; and an engagement ring worn only in sleep.

7. "Bourne glided through life as though greased while Devin fought Lady Luck with both fists raised" (page 146). Although different, what do the Cavanagh brothers have in common with each other?

8. "Pearl had found enormous freedom in her ruined reputation" (page 168). What advantages does Pearl's reputation provide her? Does Kat feel the same about her own reputation? What is ironic about these characters contributions to their judgmental town?

9. The following lines could all be considered the main theme of the novel. Which do you think best sums up the theme? Why?

a. "Love lifts a woman up or drags her down" (page 5).

b. "Ultimately, forgiveness is a leap of faith, and the odds are fifty-fifty you'll be crippled by the fall" (page 258).

c. "If a person didn't know what to look for, they would never see it" (page 303).

d. "It isn't the hand you're dealt in life — it's the hands that hold the cards" (page 221).

Readers Tips

1. Research Five Points, TN, and reveal your findings with your book club.

2. Take your book club to one of the author's appearances (www.paulawall.com).

3. Draw a family tree of the Wildes, Hughes, and Cavanaghs — then see where those three trees connect.

4. Name each character described below: "Underneath the pomp and polish was pure wolf — hungry and dangerous" (Answer on page 59).

"She had never read a book in her life, including the one she lived by" (Answer on page 96).

"She had skin the color of maple syrup, a thick black braid down her back, and wet brown eyes that promised to haunt a man" (Answer on page 138).

"He had a hairpin temper and a body coiled tight as a copperhead" (Answer on page 144).

"His dance with death turned him into a philosophical man. And the philosophy that he had come to believe in was the survival of the fittest" (Answer on page 160).

"Kindness was the only thing she never saw coming" (Answer on page 167).

"On the best of days, he was treated like lox and bagels in a basket of fishes and loaves" (Answer on page 210).

"Independence was a lonely place to live, but once she'd been there a while, she could never go back" (Answer on page 230).

"She was so securely perched on the top rung of society that she had nothing to gain by looking down at others" (Answer on page 243).

"It was as if the stork dropped him in the wrong town to begin with" (Answer on page 276).

"He woke up in more strange beds than his own, thinking only of the next warm body he'd pin to the sheets" (Answer on page 180).

"She could not stand a man who lacked conviction, even if that conviction was getting her into the backseat of his car" (Answer on page 238).

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 15 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 15 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 10, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Intriguingly rugged and sensual

    I loved this book because Wall manages to bring every character's history to the forefront. While the Wilde Women are the talk of the town, everyone is a main character because noone's voice is insignificant. It's kind of like watching a soap opera. You get to intimately know everyone's backgrounds and motivations. Wall is big picture-minded. Like a soap opera, she successfully switches scenes while demonstrating how each one is interconnected to tell the bigger story. I also love this book because it portrays the strength of women despite their vulnerabilities and dependence on men. Wall confidently explains their ulterior motives in a "do whatcha gotta do to survive" kind of way while simultaneously paying homage to the secret arsenal every woman possesses. The Wilde women are unapologetic and daring; sustaining readers' interest. Their history and life events threads through everyone else's story; linking them like a strand of pearls. Wall's voice is mysteriously tough, rugged, sensual, and mystical. This is definitely a great read!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 31, 2010

    wildly humorous

    a racy plot with unexpected twists and some good belly laughs

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 4, 2009

    A good read

    Not as good as Rock Orchard, but still a good read, I really appreciate the writer's style and clever turn of phrase. Would like to see a sequel to this story.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Surprisingly Good

    At first I really didn't think that I was going to care at all about what happened to the characters but, by the end of the book, I found myself touched. There was a depth to the characters and their actions and emotions that I wasn't expecting based on the writing style and the tone of the beginning. There were still a few things that I thought could definitely have been better and a few sketchy areas in the plotline but overall it was a really great book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 21, 2009

    Not at all worth the BARGAIN price.

    I don't typically write reviews, but I'm slightly confused by the positive reviews for this book and felt like there should be some perspective shed onto the situation. The book I read was not at all wonderful or hilarious. In fact, it was a CHALLENGE to finish. Paula Wall is a talented writer, but this story and the multitude of characters and changing perspectives is dizzying and just plain annoying. There is very little chance to get to know any of the individual characters and I have yet to figure out why this tale of an entire town is titled, The Wilde Women when they barely make longer than cameo appearances in the text. This book definitely is all talk and very little follow through.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2008

    Another good one from Paula Wall

    This is a really good book and a fast read. Not only do you meet Pearl and Kat, but you meet lots of interesting characters from the town! I hope Paula Wall writes a second book telling us what happens to the characters in the town!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    a fascinating historical romance

    In 1929 in Five Points, Tennessee, Pearl Wilde finds her fiancé Bourne Cavanagh, oldest son of the owner of Cavanagh Whiskey Distillery, having sex with her sister Kat, who to add insult to injury is wearing her shoes. Pearl takes her shoes back and leaves for Chicago. As she travels overseas and across America, Pearl sends home post cards to Kat telling her to go to hell. However, late in 1932 she returns home to open up a whore house..................... Pearl enters the dilapidated hardware store owned by Bud Marshall. The men who hang out there are awed by her except the handsomest nineteen year old Eddie McCowan. She hires him to work for her and tells his mom Maysie that she is pleased with her son¿s work. Bud cleans up his store and Maysie persuades the men to accept work at Pearl¿s place. The Mayor informs the town council they will do nothing to prevent Pearl opening up her business, the first new one in town in a decade........................ Kat works at the Randolph and Hughes Shirt Factory where she sews sleeves onto the shirts. Mason Hughes, the son of the owner, sees her and wants her. She rejects his advances. Still Mason visits Kat who tells him to leave, but unbeknownst to both of them Pearl watches and realizes her sister wants this man because she pushes away those she desires she now has her tool of revenge......................... The ensemble cast contains unique characters that bring to life Depression Era Tennessee while the story line has an underlying whimsical feel as the Wilde sisters wink at American history yet brings a sense of time and place to the delightful story line. The final wild twist will surprise readers as Paula Wall provides the audience with a fascinating historical romance starring two Wilde women, their men, and the fully developed townsfolk who observe the sibling war......................... Harriet Klausner

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 4, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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    Posted July 20, 2010

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    Posted August 15, 2009

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