Liberating Paris: A Novel

Liberating Paris: A Novel

by Linda Bloodworth Thomason


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060596736
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 09/06/2005
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 599,188
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Linda Bloodworth Thomason, the acclaimed creator of Designing Women and Evening Shade, has written more than two hundred episodes for network television. She has been nominated for numerous Emmys and is the recipient of the Lucille Ball Award from Women in Film and the Eleanor Roosevelt Freedom of Speech Award. She is currently writing and directing her first feature film and lives in Los Angeles with her husband, director Harry Thomason.

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Liberating Paris
A Novel

Chapter One

Imagine a town that hardly anyone has ever heard of. Yet everyone has seen one like it. It is just before daylight and the Main Street is coming into view. There are cracks in the sidewalk with stubborn little patches of grass sticking through them. Most of the stores are boarded up, but one that isn't has a lot of naked mannequins lying around in the window. A fall breeze comes up and blows some leaves lightly against the cracked glass pane, blows the stoplight where no one is waiting, until it swings drunkenly from its cable.

Just past all this, if you look hard, you will see the fire station and the football stadium and then the interstate where something large and pitifully ugly has been put up. Something to take the place of the town. There is a fifty-yard banner stretched across the front of it that says: "Home of the new Fed-Mart Superstore."

A few miles beyond that is a much smaller sign, really about the size of a world atlas. It's nailed to a wooden gate, and you can tell by its shabby condition that it's been there a long time. The sign reads fast deer farm, but there aren't any deer around. Just a middle-aged man on a horse. He is wearing some red-checkered pajama bottoms and drinking whiskey from an upturned bottle and riding as fast as he can toward the sun. If you lived around here, you would know that his name is Woodrow Phineas McIlmore the Third. But most people call him Wood, except his mother, who calls him Woodrow. Even though Wood and Sook -- that's his horse's name -- take this same ride every morning, they are in no hurry to arrive anywhere. They already know the bright light on the horizon moves farther into the distance the nearer you get. Well, really, Wood and Dapplegreys Ultraviolet, the granddaddy of Sook, figured this out when Wood was still a boy -- it was the ride itself that was worthy -- the swift exhilaration of speed and spirit, the complete aloneness of two equestrian astronauts hurling themselves through the green space of a thousand velvet acres -- cool customers in their youth, now just two old friends trying to prove one more time that they can still ride the ride.

The boy and his horse had once set out for the sun and quickly learned what others had tried to put into words -- that becoming is probably better than being, that there is only one thing in between and that is the ride. The ride is everything -- not the arrival at some distant or imagined spot of light from which you would probably just see another spot of light and then another until you didn't know where you were or maybe you would even fall from the sky like Icarus for flying too near the sun or end up floating facedown in your swimming pool like Gatsby, who had worshipped too closely to the green light at the end of Daisy's dock. No, there was no question about it: Forget about the light. Just keep your head down and stay on the ride.

Wood felt lucky to know such a thing. And if his morning workout with Sook didn't make it clear, the walls of his study were lined with the favored novels of three generations of McIlmores. Books that were full of myopic, vainglorious fools who had not only failed to appreciate the ride, they had gotten off, like some fevered hoboes looking for Big Rock Candy Mountain, and wandered stupidly into irony, mayhem, and even the jaws of a killer whale.

That wasn't Wood. He knew what a fine meal had been laid upon his table. He retrieved the whiskey bottle from the hip pocket of his pajama bottoms and unscrewed the cap -- "Whoa, slow her down now, girl, that's the way," he coaxed Sook as she adjusted her pace to his need. He brought the flask to his lips, turning it up full tilt and draining the remainder of the whiskey inside. It went down smooth, warming him, like the maple syrup Mae Ethel used to make for his pancakes. Try as he might, he had never been able to reproduce for his own children the thick, sweet texture that flowed like a small mudslide across and then down the lightest, fluffiest pancakes ever poured on a griddle (nor could the cooks at the local Waffle House, despite his meticulous embellishments). Fluffy was not a word Wood used often but that's what they were, damnit; they were fluffy and he missed them! He missed Mae Ethel, too. For some reason he thought of her whenever he drank whiskey. Maybe that was her secret ingredient for the syrup or maybe it was just that the liquor and the woman warmed him, especially on fall mornings like this when he rode without a shirt. Ah, Mae Ethel, his jolly, all-knowing angel who was colored when he first knew her but later became black. The person who used to scoop him up like warm laundry and press him against her huge, pillowy bosom, laughing her high-pitched approval at his simplest declaration.

His parents were equally doting, but it was Mae Ethel who physically loved him up each day, squeezing his flesh, swinging him, holding him. Mae Ethel, filling every inch of the doorway with her hands-on-hips massive presence, a symphony of happy, human noise moving joyfully through the McIlmore house. Mae Ethel, who had no expectations and therefore no judgments of him other than "do right" and "be happy," and who had been born before self-esteem was discovered but had somehow managed to electrify her charge with the simple admonition, "Study hard now, Peaches." It wasn't a warning, really. It was more like a good tip. But by the time she said it, she had already filled him up with so much highly combustible good stuff, all she had to do was light the match and the boy was on fire ...

Liberating Paris
A Novel
. Copyright © by Linda Thomason. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Liberating Paris 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
screamingbanshee on LibraryThing 29 days ago
I loved this book! It isn't about Paris, France, as I initially hoped. I started out quite slow, actually prepared to toss it aside because it seemed boring and ordinary reading about the lives of small town in Arkansas.

But was I surprised to get so drawn into the lives of the characters, so realistically written by Thomason.

lorrib More than 1 year ago
I loved this book, particularly the characters of Mavis and Brundidge--I have the audiobook which is read by a wonderful actor and really brings the characters to life
Olmomsie More than 1 year ago
delightful, full of wonderful characters and you are invited into the story from the get go...enjoy
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
joansie More than 1 year ago
The critics are right---this book is a TV script. I was casting the series as I read. But it touches on a serious matter---the demise of personalized small town shopping on Main St. USA because of Walmart-type megastores. Further, Ms Bloodworth-Thomason highlights the point that not everybody in a small southern town is a bigot or a homophobe, and she does it with gentle humor, sharp-wit,and rueful nostalgia for what has been lost in little towns across America. Lots of chuckles here, and I wound up with a nice warm feeling after I turned the last page. Sometimes I long for a good rainy-day--under the afghan---cup of cocoa read. "Liberating Paris" is just that.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I laughed, i cried... Thought the characters were real and flawed and made me think of how the simplest of decisions in those late teen years can change everything in your life. Thomason brought everyone to life in such amazing ways that i found it hard to put the book down and wanted to see how each person was going to try to save the town or themselves or both. I highly recommend this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Linda Thomason reprises many of her signature phrases from her sitcoms Designing Women (wrung out gas station dog) & Evening Shade in Liberating Paris. The characters are unique and complex. She takes her time revealing the complete nature of all the relationships in the book. The main character, Wood, has a mid-life crisis, but redeems himself at the end of the book. She gets a little heavy-handed near the end trying to cram in all relevant southern social issues - interracial marriage, gay marriage, the encroachment of WalMart into small towns, etc, but the book is a fun read.
BookaliciousReadingIsSexy More than 1 year ago
This book was so much better than I expected. Set in small town Paris, Arkansas, it's an homage to that time & place in America when Main Street thrived, before the giant superstores came in and took all their business away. The main characters have been friends since the first grade, who grew up when Main Street was bustling but now, 40 years later, it's dead.

The relationships between the characters are not contrived. They're very real. The characters are so well-drawn, I feel as if I could recognize them walking down my very own street.

The premise is that Wood's daughter Elizabeth is engaged to Luke, the son of a woman he dated in high school. Luke & Elizabeth do not know about the romance their parents had. In high school, Wood dated (and later married) Milan, but they broke up for one year during which time he dated the exhilarating free-spirited Duff. They had a chemistry like no other and the thought of Duff returning to Paris for the wedding puts everyone in a state, especially Milan. Milan is terrified that Duff will woo her husband away from her.

The plot, while interesting, is not as memorable as the characters. These people are wonderful. Milan's best friend and local baker, Mavis. Wood's best friends, Earl Brundidge & Carl Jeter.

The book could have ended a few pages early (it sort of goes on a bit at the end), but that's my only complaint.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Liberating Paris was an unexpected pleasure to read. Linda Bloodworth Thomason is new to me (as a novelist) and I did not expect such an expertly woven tale filled with multi-faceted characters, irony, and charming wit that I found in Paris, AR. I truly hope she writes another novel.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really liked most of this book. Got caught up with what was happening, but the last part of the book really disappointed me. All of a sudden all of the loose ends were coming together so that everyone could live happily ever after. The book was too good to have an ending like this!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the book I would write if I could write a book. Warm, strong characters and completely entertaining. I also think the message is one we need to hear in this day and age. I hope Linda Bloodworth Thomason writes another book soon.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A must-read for anyone who has fond memories of their hometown. I got caught up in all the different characters' lives and ended up reading the book from start to finish in one go. It's a powerful, poetic book. Linda Bloodworth-Thomason is a brilliant writer in any genre!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Like most books with many characters, it requires a few chapters to take off. But when it does, it flies -- and until then, her great sense of humor paves the way. It also contains one of the best character arcs I've seen. I spent part of my boyhood in a small Missouri town and always knew that somewhere, between the Mingo Swamp and the granite hills of the Ozarks, there lies another Yoknapatawpha County. If Linda Bloodworth Thomason keeps writing, there is a good chance she might find it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
What an incredible novel! It's a rich, affectionate journey through a small town full of such pleasing characters. I felt like I was paying visits around a close-knit community, with all the colorful, endearing people who live there inviting me in for an intimate chat. The main and supporting characters are equally fascinating, and their lives intertwine so marvelously. Surrounding the players is beautiful, lyrical prose, full of fresh imagery and articulate descriptions -- the whole rhythm of the book is intoxicating. My only regret is that I read it so quickly and on a sunny day -- it's a great book for the beach, but even better for a cold, wet afternoon when one's nestled in front of a fire -- but I plan to re-read it with our first snowfall, and I'm sure it will be every bit as good then.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Even if you're not from the south, I believe this book will appeal to everyone from a small town or has small town values. The story was crisply written, with great humor and deep feeling. You will laugh and cry. It's a quick read and I would highly recommend this winner
Guest More than 1 year ago
I cannot believe the two good reviews this book got. The story line wandered around so much, and there was so much detail that I forgot what was going on with whom. I love books about the south and small towns, but I found no redeeming qualities in this book - I found no humor, no plot, and the characters were unbelievable. And yes, I do come from a small town in the south. DBH
Guest More than 1 year ago
I haven't laughed out loud or cried real tears while reading a book in a long time. The wonderful characters in this novel will remind everyone of someone they know or someone you would want to be. Ms. Thompson has written a wonderful work and I hope to see more novels from her.
Guest More than 1 year ago
You'll laugh, you'll cry as you remember what a small town once meant to it's citizens. Includes 'priceless' truth of the big box stores and what it does to a small town. All this happens during a year you'll never forget and wish it didn't have to end.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am a writer and I was interested to see if a television writer could write a novel. The answer is a resounding yes! This is a brilliant novel with characters painted on a broad canvas with the finest brushes. This is one you shouldn't miss.