Dollbaby: A Novel

Dollbaby: A Novel

by Laura Lane McNeal
4.3 26

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Dollbaby: A Novel 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
KDH_Reviews More than 1 year ago
There's so many things that I absolutely love about Dollbaby. It's set in the South. Being from the South, I always love reading about the history and culture in fiction books. The Southern-isms (like "bless your heart" is more insulting than complimentary) are wonderfully done in this book. It's about learning family secrets. Southern families (and I'm sure this isn't just a Southern thing, but that's where my experience lies), it seems, are full of crazy secrets. Whether it's discovering your own family secrets or someone else's, it's always interesting. It's a coming of age story. Taking place over eight years, we see growth mostly in Ibby, but there's change in the entire cast of characters. Speaking of which, it's got such delightful, realistic characters. I loved them all. The only thing that I was confused about during my time reading this book was why it was named as such. Surely a book about Ibby shouldn't be named Dollbaby. By the end of the book, though, it makes perfect sense. And I absolutely loved it. While I enjoyed the entire book, the last few chapters are really what made me fall in love with it. Dollbaby is a great story. It's touching and just all around wonderful. I highly recommend this one. * This book was received from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. * You can read all of my reviews on my blog, KDH Reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Laura Lane McNeal paints exquisite portraits of real New Orleans people, not Downtown folks like Stella and Stanley Kowalski. No these are the city’s elite, Fannie Bell and her granddaughter Liberty, living in a Queen Anne Victorian mansion on Prytania Street. Their streetcar line is not Desire, but St. Charles where bankers, brokers and shipping executives ride home each evening in white linen and fashionable seersucker suits up one of America’s most spectacular boulevards lined with one legendary mansion after another. At Miss Fannie’s, there are servants, black ladies in the southern style, Queenie and her daughter Doll. But just like down in the gritty part of the city where Stanley, Stella and Blanche wrestle with their impossible lives, Uptown on Prytania, there are what some today call issues. Are there ever. You see, in Ms. McNeal’s New Orleans it’s 1964. And 188 miles north up the Illinois Central Railroad Mississippi Freedom Summer is unfolding in Jackson, a little southern city rapidly becoming infamous throughout the world for racist brutality, murder and lawless mobs of night riders. This is the world that Mississippi native Vidrine Bell pushes her shocked, frightened daughter Ibby into, really — pushes the child out of the car and onto the sidewalk in front of her grandmother’s house. Ibby's mother’s parting advice had been “Liberty Alice Bell, quit your whining …" Extremely well written. Totally fascinating.
quaintinns More than 1 year ago
A special thank you to PENGUIN GROUP Viking, Pamela Dorman Books, and NetGalley for an ARC, in exchange for an honest review. Move over Southern writers, this newfound author is here to stay! THIS GIRL IS ON FIRE! Laura Lane McNeal, where have you been? Hands down, DOLLBABY, A predicted bestseller chart topper. From the exquisite and stunning front cover, beautiful fonts, and the intricate filigree throughout the book—resonating the elegant New Orleans style of southern charm and sophistication, worthy of this much loved historical setting—matched with a beautifully- written, impressive debut novel, from the first page to the last. A heartwarming and poignant story of strong women, facing many obstacles, tragedies, and challenges in a time of racial tension during the 60’s and 70’s. From Civil Rights, Vietnam, family secrets, and lies, to the days of Woolworth’s, President Johnson, Black and white TVs to color---in the exciting and beautiful southern backdrop, where architecture, jazz, music, dance, southern creole and Cajun food feed your soul. What a storyteller---this inspiring, uplifting and funny novel, full of flawed and lovable characters, will keep crying and laughing, as they win reader’s hearts. It was 1964 and Liberty Alice Bell (Ibby) 12 yr.-old, born on July 4th, from Washington, has just lost her dad, due to a biking accident (they were on their father-daughter outing). Ibby’s mom, Vidrine, (not a very caring mom), dumps her daughter, (with no explanation), along with her dad’s ashes and an urn---on her eccentric grandmother, Fannie’s doorstep, in the historical area of New Orleans. Of course, Vidrine does not care for her mother-in-law, and the feeling is most definitely, mutual. Ibby is not aware she has a grandmother prior to this date, nor is she knowledgeable of her southern roots, her dad’s family, or anything about this foreign culture. She is grief stricken, and now left alone with a grandmother she does not even know, in a strange town. Boy, is she in for a treat of her life, when she is greeted by Fannie’s black, smart and wise housekeeper, and cook-- Queenie, who seems to run the household. Queenie came with the house, and has been with Miss Fannie since she was eighteen. She has seen and heard it all, and well equipped for the job! This group loves hiding things, and keeping secrets to protect their owner. (And let me tell you, this family has plenty of dark, hidden secrets), keeping you engrossed from beginning to end! As Ibby searches for a family and her own identify, she finally comes to know her real grandmother, with all her secrets and flaws; and love of the other powerful women in the house on Prytania Street, who irrevocably shaped and nurtured her grandmother, past the ghosts she left behind. From the flash backs to the fifties to the present time of sixties through the seventies – what a ride, from loss and love, to forgiveness and redemption. Would love to continue to hear more about future adventures of Ibby, Doll, Birdelia, and T-Bone. Fans will definitely root for a movie –as can you image the cast? A powerful, thought-provoking, inspiring, and satisfying read. I highly recommend! A talented author you will want to follow for years to come-can’t wait to see what comes next!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great story. Made me laugh, made me cry and made me fall in love with quite a few characters in the book. Story similar to 'the help' but a more interesting character line up, each with their own past and personality.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved the book the story plot kept me wanting more I couldn't put the book down read it even during my lunch breaks at work because I was sooo obssesed. MUST READ
MonicaFMF More than 1 year ago
Ibby Bell's mother has decided to abandon her with a newly, to her, discovered grandmother in a strange, faraway place after her father's sudden passing. She's convinced she will be miserable and will just have to count days til her mother returns. How long will she wait? Could there be anything good in this weird house? A powerful, emotionally charged narrative guides characters and readers through turmoils of the 60s-70s as well as personal struggles. Characters are authentic, emotional, caring, and develop as the story progresses. Overall, a compelling read.
irishclaireKG More than 1 year ago
An Enjoyable if Obvious Read. If you love New Orleans (one of my favorite cities) then this novel evokes that city, beautifully. Set from 1964-1972, the action covers the Civil Rights Movement from the perspectives of an eccentric (of course) New Orleans family with plenty of dark secrets--obviously. I kept thinking of 'The Help' throughout yet the characters here did not draw me in the way that previous novel's did. But this is generally well written and keeps you interested despite the fact there are no real surprises. A lot of this is predictable if you're paying attention and the same kinds of family 'mysteries' appear in countless other tales set in the Deep South, in particular. All that being said, I would recommend picking this up--it's a fast and engaging experience for the most part, and I think the author has a lot of potential.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Treat yourself to this book. If you love stories abo ut young girls growing up with struggles, with odd characters, with loving characters, this will be a great read for you. Enjoy!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Don't be misled into reading this because it is compared to The Help and The Secret Life of Bees. It IS set in the south in the sixties and does have white and black people but it is not as well written and has so many lost chances to expand and take the characters deeper into the events of the story and their relationships. I must admit I skimmed ALOT just to get to the end. The story dragged and the author seemed to be trying just a bit too hard to include elements and flavors of New Orleans and the sixties. It was tiresome. Predictable plot line that wrapped up nice and tidy in the end. My eyes were rolling constantly for the last 100 pages.
EMS11 More than 1 year ago
This novel is memorable and if you love the South, strong characters that overcome adversity, or well written prose you won't be able to put this book down.  I can't wait to read it again!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a story of how revealed family secrets, good or bad, validate who you are.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is great
CharlotteLynnsReviews More than 1 year ago
Dollbaby is a book that I started one morning and by the next morning I was finished. I could not put it down. The characters are so relatable, lovable, and people I cared about by the time I was done reading about their lives. I felt like Laura Lane McNeal created characters that could be my friends, she let the reader learn about the characters personal lives, their real feelings, and their real fears. Dollbaby is set in New Orleans right before the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964. Queenie and Doll are the maids that come with the house that Frannie lives in. While Queenie believes that this act will not mean anything, Dollbaby wants to step out and fight for her rights. It is not an easy life for white people or black people. There is a lot of violence, especially in the south. I believe that both races are trying to come to terms with where the world is heading. I enjoyed that both Ibby and Frannie, the white people, seemed to understand the Civil Rights Act and know that it was going to be a big change in the world. Ibby, Fannie’s 12 year old granddaughter, is dropped off at her grandmother’s house by her mother and never picked back up. I felt for Ibby’s rejection by her mother. This is a tough subject at any age much less as a teenager. She was left in a town she was not familiar with, with people she did not know, and she was thrown into a world so different from what she knew. I felt that this was a great read. It was not always an easy subject to read about but the book was easy to read. The history, the characters, the setting were all perfect.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed Dollbaby so much!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really good read......powerful...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Touching story that will reach all the way to your heart
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Actually Dollbaby was a little better than good. If you like Southern books and secrets ( I do ) then you'll like it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A book I could not put down!
BeauJW More than 1 year ago
Loved the characters in this book and the New Orleans setting. Very enjoyable read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ABookVacation More than 1 year ago
I don’t really know where to start with this one. It’s a very well written novel, but I struggled to see where it was going, what it was focusing on. With a title like Dollbaby, I expected the novel to infact be about the character Dollbaby, but it’s not. Instead, the novel centers around Ibby, a young white girl thrust into a life in New Orleans with her eccentric grandmother, Fannie. As Ibby attempts to navigate life and her feelings of abandonment, she comes to rely on the help, both Queenie and Dollbaby, to understand her grandmother’s past and to begin to live for her future, but the novel didn’t seem, at least to me, to have a precise direction. It's the 1960s, and the civil rights movement is in full swing, but the novel isn't really about that, and it's not really about Fannie, or Ibby’s coming of age, even. Truthfully, I had a hard time pinpointing the purpose of the novel as I read. It moves slowly along, like I'd expect life in the South to move, and while vivid and, as I said, very well written, I just couldn't get over the fact that the novel is called Dollbaby, and Dollbaby is indeed a secondary character who doesn't drive the plot. She is occasionally thrown in as attending a demonstration or consoling Ibby, but that’s about it. In truth, I found that not much drives the plotline of this story—I guess it's more of a coming of age story of sorts in which readers learn about Ibby as she grows up in New Orleans, putting together the pieces of her family and edging into the sad and dark secrets kept by those around her. But, I wouldn’t even say the novel is about those secrets, either. I just felt like this was a historical fiction story with snippets of happenings here and there thrown in. I never grew attached to any of the characters, and while parts were interesting in their own right, I have to say the novel on the whole just isn't my style. While the end brought everything together in terms of the title, characters, and even a few events, something I’d been looking for the entire time I read, it was too late in the storyline to really hit home with me. Had the novel moved faster and tied together events in a way that made sense to me, I think I would have enjoyed it more. As is, it’s just too slow a pace for my tastes. I think someone who really enjoys historical fiction might like this novel, perhaps.