Catfish Alley

Catfish Alley

by Lynne Bryant

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A moving debut novel about female friendship, endurance, and hope in the South.

Roxanne Reeves defines her life by the committees she heads and the social status she cultivates. But she is keeping secrets that make her an outsider in her own town, always in search of acceptance. And when she is given a job none of the other white women want-researching the town's African-American history for a tour of local sites-she feels she can't say no.

Elderly Grace Clark, a retired black schoolteacher, reluctantly agrees to become Roxanne's guide. Grace takes Roxanne to Catfish Alley, whose undistinguished structures are nonetheless sacred places to the black community because of what happened there. As Roxanne listens to Grace's stories, and meets her friends, she begins to see differently. She is transported back to the past, especially to 1931, when a racist's hatred for Grace's brother leads to events that continue to change lives decades later. And as Roxanne gains an appreciation of the dreams, courage, and endurance of those she had so easily dismissed, her own life opens up in new and unexpected ways.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781101478943
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/05/2011
Sold by: Penguin Group
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 318,575
File size: 379 KB
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Lynne Bryant grew up in Columbus, Mississippi, and has lived for many years in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where she teaches nursing at the University of Colorado. She is the author of Alligator Lake and Catfish Alley.

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Catfish Alley 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book! A must read! Enjoyed getting to know the characters in the book. This book is book club worthy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it! A bit like The Help. I love books that jump back and forth from the past to the present and are told from several viewpoints.
VictoriaAllman More than 1 year ago
Catfish Alley is the surprising story of a Junior League, Southern woman making friends with an elderly black woman while learning the history of the town she lives in. It is the story of an awakening of this middle-aged, upper-crust woman to what is right in front of her eyes, yet she had never seen before. I picked this book up after spending some time in Mississippi and wanting to know more about life there. What I thought was going to be a book about Southern ladies and friendship bloomed into so much more. While friendship is the heart of the novel, Lynne Bryant also weaves in a story of forgiveness and encouragement through the heartbreaking and brutal days of being a black man or woman in Mississippi in 1931. Once Introduced to Bryant's characters of Grace, Zero, Addie and Junior, I found myself embroiled in their lives and wrapped up in the story that, while I knew how it would end, was touching and heartbreaking all at the same time. Although I love spending time in Mississippi now, I'm glad I didn't then. Bryant captures the fear and injustice of the times without going overboard. I enjoyed this book and look forward to Bryant's next story about Mississippi, Alligator Lake. Victoria Allman author of: SEAsoned: A Chef's Journey with Her Captain
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyable read.
RosiebRG More than 1 year ago
This book got me from the start. Couldn't put it down. Lynne BRyant tells the story of 1930's Mississippi with skill and knowledge. From Grace to Zero, the characters are vivid and come to life with her story telling. Rosie
LeHack on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was probably the best book I have read this year. This is Lynne Bryant's debut novel. The story is a narrative told by several characters. Roxanne Reeves grew up poor, her mother a cook for a wealthy family in Louisiana. Roxanne wants a different life, marries well, and moves to Mississippi. She measures her current life by how far she has moved up the social ladder, currently voted head of the annual tour of homes in Clarksville. This year, one of the new members from Connecticut who has just moved into one of the finest old plantation houses in the area, has proposed a tour of African-American historical sites in Clarksville. Roxanne isn't quite sure how she will pull this off but makes an appointment to meet with Grace Clark, a former schoolteacher at the black school, then the local school district after desegregation, and a lifelong resident of Clarksville. Grace takes her on a tour of sites and tells her stories about the history of the area. These stories change Roxanne's perspective on her own life and values. It gives the reader a perspective on history that many still don't know or don't understand. As Grace mentions when she first gets a call from Roxanne, "White folks. Eighty-nine years and you'd think I'd be used to them by now." This is a deeply emotional story and a great selection for book groups. Highly recommended. I wish I could give it 10 stars.
Enamoredsoul on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I began to read "Catfish Alley" by Lynne Bryant, thinking it was merely going to be an entertaining book. I did not expect for it to open up rivers of joy and pain inside of me - but that is exactly what this amazing book did. "Catfish Alley" chronicles the lives of various Southern women, who are smart, intelligent and pillars of strength in their community. It is quite clear with the way author Bryant writes that she is not only familiar and comfortable with the South, but that these stories come from experience. Taking these Southern characters, the author weaves a tale both beautiful and sad. Roxanne Reeves' life is disintegrating, and she has no friends to reach out to, because she has spent most of her life trying to create a distance between herself and others so that they don't discover her past. When she approaches Miss Grace Clarke, in order to consult with her about a new African-American tour, the last thing she expects is to find an amazing friend who helps her come face-to-face with her own demons. In taking Roxanne Reeves to the different African-American landmarks within the community, Grace sets the wheels in motion to relate the story of African-American's in 1930's Mississippi, that changed the lives of Grace, her friend Adelle, Junior who was the love of her life, and Zero, her brother. As the story unfolds, the reader is shown both the prim and proper ways of the Southern belles in her circle, and the impropriety of some of these same families in the past; especially in regards to racism. The highlight of the book, however, is the way in which these African-American women handle the injustices and difficulties that come their way; especially in regards to dealing with the ignorance, racism, hatred and violence perpetuated towards them by the Whites in their community. Told by many viewpoints, both White and Black, the backbone of this novel is the camaraderie that exists between the characters, despite the hardships they may face together. The various chapters told by various perspectives adds immense depth to the story. Character development is excellent, and the author most certainly knows how to steer the reader into the direction that the story is going towards. This novel, although compared to it, in my opinion may even be better than "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett, in some ways. Although, "The Help" is supposed to have more humor and has a different theme - the books do have similarities, but are not about the same thing. Either way, this book is most definitely worth a read, and I thoroughly loved it, finishing it within a day!
kimreadthis on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Initially I thought that this book was a rip-off of "The Help"'s success. While it is vaguely the same general premise of a Caucasian woman coming to understand African American women, the setting, time, and circumstances are much different. A small mystery ran throughout the book that kept the reader's interest, but was not very difficult to discern. I enjoyed the way that the main white character, Roxanne Reeves, came to mature during the tale as she became friendly with two elderly African American ladies and had her eyes opened to the way that members of her own community lived and what they had been through in their lives. I enjoyed the story very much.
7LakesReader More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. I read mediocre reviews but decided to take a chance anyway and glad I did... read it in two days. She is definitely on my list of authors to read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book!  Recommend it!  There were times when I was a little frustrated with the author and had to see if she was black or white. haha.  I think she did a really great job of representing both races, the sterotypes of today and the ignorances of the past. A great story! 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was a good book bout what when on in the South back in the day. Hope if aanyonee reaads tnay they enjoy the book.
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McGuffyAnn More than 1 year ago
Actions and deeds often resonate throughout history being felt for generations. Such is the case in Catfish Alley. While working on a community historical project, Roxanne Reeves must deal with the sins of the past and the scars of the present. Set in modern day Mississippi, the book is interwoven with recollections and memories of the 1930s South. The book deals with race, family, and friendships, both then and now. The characters are genuine and wise. The relationships are full of all that real life is made of. Even when writing outside her realm of experience, Ms. Bryant's observations are keen and accurate. She has done her homework. She has tried to depict the South with its people and history in a broader sense. She has done it well, and its people proud.
ShanaP More than 1 year ago
Catfish Alley artfully tackles the racial divide between Blacks and Whites in the South both in the past and as it remains today. The story is told in the first person from the perspective of each character and thereby allows full character development of each. Catfish Alley scrapes the scab off the ugly history of "Jim Crow" and the Ku Klux Klan and delves into the souls of the characters. The chapters alternate between Roxanne, a White Southern Woman who, in her efforts to hide her impoverished past, has cultivated a social status for herself, and the Blacks with whom, for self-serving reasons, she is forcing herself to deal. Her interaction with Grace Clark, a Black retired school teacher, ultimately reveals events that will change the lives of Roxanne and every Black person with whom she has come in contact. Catfish Alley is simply and yet beautifully written. It evokes the full range of emotions from outrage to tears. The descriptions of the communities in Mississippi leave you feeling like you can almost see the antebellum homes, smell the hot, humid air and hear the crickets and tree frogs. This novel is a "page-turner" and one that you don't want to end. Shana Plummer Sweet Soul Sisters Book Club
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A little bit of "Fried Green Tomatoes" mixed with some "The Help", but with a story all its own... love love loved this book!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago