Monday, March 13, 2006

The Florabama Ladies' Auxiliary & Sewing Circle by Lois Battle

Bonnie Duke Cullman is making changes, well, is being forced to make changes. Her husband of many years is not only divorcing her, but he has just told her that they are basically bankrupt. Her years of being a stay at home mum have just come to an end. So, after having held down only one job in her life she is on her way to Florabama to work in a college helping women who are struggling to get through college, and hopefully move on in their lives.

On the same day that Bonnie is starting out on her journey to Florabama with her puppy, another group of women are also undergoing forced changes. They have all been told that their employer is closing down operations at the Cherished Lady lingerie mill and they are all now jobless. For many of these women, who lived pay check to pay check, there is nothing for them to fall back on, and they need to find another way of earning a living, and quickly.

So Bonnie is thrown into the deep end, trying to assist these women choosing what courses to take, assisting with forms etc, eventually finding that they have become a part of her life, and she a part of theirs.

Whilst this book is set in the South, and there are characters in the book, they are not as cartoonish as some authors seem to make Southern women. These are for the most part, lower to middle class struggling to make ends meet, to keep their families together and food on the table. They just happen to live in the South.

Bonnie is the daughter of the Duke, a man with considerable connections, and it is upsetting for her when she realises that she did not get the job on her own merits, but she works through this. She also starts to move forward in her life when an old friend Riz comes calling.

Of the women who lost their jobs, the best characterisations are Ruth who always wanted to be a teacher, but when she got pregnant and then married had to shelve that dream. Instead she is trying to ensure that her grandchildren are not abandoned by their unreliable mother Roxy. Roxy too is pretty well defined, even if her actions are not actually explained.

Hilly is another well written character. She is loud and brash, angry and hurt. She was married a couple of times but her second husband was the love of her life, until he went to Vietnam and didn't last too long after he came back. She flits from one meaningful relationship to another, until she eventually meets Jess, who is everything that she normally doesn't like.

A couple of the others are kind of key to the story but don't get much page time. The scope of the book is one year, and we really don't find out what happened to Bonnie in particular, although we know that she has certainly grown throughout the book.

Overall this was a good read.

Rating 4/5


  1. Wow, you read fast!

  2. Sometimes!! It helps that I have a week off of work, and am not going away!!

  3. I read her book about Storyville. I really enjoyed it. I tried this one but couldn't get into it. I may have to try again though.

  4. This is the only one of hers that I have read,so I can't really compare them I guess.