"Wall's created a crystalline world so full of one-of-a-kind characters...you can't help but enjoy your visit."
New York Times bestselling author Jodi Picoult
"The legendary Belle family women of Leaper's Fork, Tennessee, sparkle to life in this fine debut novel."
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"It is common knowledge that Belle Women make hard men melt like butter in a pan," writes novelist Wall, adding, "They are equally adept at reversing the process." If you find such sentiments appealing, then spirit yourself away to Leaper's Fork, Tennessee, and immerse yourself in the very southern world of Charlotte, Angela, and Dixie Belle: three generations of Belles, and the subjects of this jaunty, sexy debut.
The Belle women are part of an old and wealthy family descended from a Confederate colonel. One neighbor calls them "white trash with money." But their greatest asset, to put it mildly, is feminine charm. Just ask Boston-bred Dr. Adam Montgomery, who moves in next door with his Yankee fiancée, only to be smitten by Angela the moment he lays eyes on her. Or ask Reverend Thomas Jones, another newcomer to Leaper's Fork, to whom Charlotte applies her feminine wiles as she endeavors to help him inter his long, sad past.
Old money verses new, South versus North, hypocrisy verses honesty, prejudice versus love -- these are heavy themes, to be sure. And yet Wall handles them deftly, in a tone so confident and breezy that the pages seem to turn themselves. A resident of Nashville, Wall has a gift for fiction, a gift she employs to great effect in this marvelous novel about the transformative power of love. (Spring 2005 Selection)
The legendary Belle family women of Leaper's Fork, Tenn., sparkle to life in this fine debut novel by the author of the popular syndicated humor column "Off the Wall." In 1920, tough-minded 23-year-old Charlotte Belle comes to raise her dead sister's bastard child and names her Angela. At 17, Angela, a free-spirited girl with an open heart and the same snappy independence as her aunt, captures the affections of Adam Montgomery, the new doctor in town, on the day he helps her give birth in his back garden. Adam's fianc e, Lydia Jackson, is a cold-hearted Boston-bred snob who takes an instant dislike to vivacious Angela. While ably capturing the insouciant charm of the saucy Belle women and the men they bewitch, Wall loses points for giving short shrift to two major elements introduced late in the story: Adam and Lydia's blueblood Bostonian crowd, who make a too-brief appearance at a winter estate on sultry Banyan Island, and the Rev. Thomas Lyle, who appears out of left field to become the sole contender for Charlotte Belle's heart. Wall's light-as-a-feather prose and winning characters carry the novel, but more work on plot and structure would improve her next effort. Agent, Aaron Priest. 7-city author tour. (Jan. 31) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
A good-natured debut novel by Wall (If I Were a Man, I'd Marry Me, not reviewed), who offers a comic portrait of small-town life in the South. Lacking much in the way of distractions, the townsfolk of Leaper's Fork, Tennessee, have nothing much to preoccupy themselves except for each other-so it's a good thing that most of the locals are oddballs and characters worthy of Carl Reiner or Erskine Caldwell. Foremost among these are the Belle women, five generations of floozies who have managed down the years to amass one of the largest fortunes in the region without ever (or often) stooping to marriage. Musette, the matriarch of the clan, survives to this day in the form of the nude statue she posed for, which sits atop her grave. Her granddaughter Charlotte, technically a spinster though far from a virgin, is a hardheaded businesswoman who makes a rare indulgence into sentimentality by adopting her late sister's daughter Angela. As feral as a wildcat, the slatternly Angela has an innate gift for striking men dumb with desire in spite of her unwashed clothes and stringy, matted hair. One of her most hopeless victims is Adam Montgomery, a young doctor from Boston who moved to Leaper's Fork to set up his practice. Unhappily married, Adam feels guilty about his obsession with Angela-but he'd feel better if he knew that his prim wife, Lydia, was carrying on with a local handyman who seems to find a lot to work on at her house. And when the new minister is seduced in the graveyard by one of the Belles, the entire balance of power seems set to shift in town. Fast, funny, and surprisingly fresh: Wall's doings manage even to overshadow their author's dependence on one-liners ("How she stayed in themissionary position long enough to get pregnant was a mystery") and draw the reader into her very strange and hilarious world. Regional author tour. Agent: Aaron Priest/Aaron Priest Literary Agency