Title: The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder
Author: Rebecca Wells
I always thought I had quite the sweet tooth. I love all things chocolate and candy and am not opposed to a bit of sweetness in my literary life too. But with all things moderation is best - I just wish someone had told Rebecca Wells this when she was writing her latest novel, The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder.
Calla Lily grows up under the adoring gaze of her parents in the small town of La Luna, Louisiana with dreams of following her beloved M'dear into the world of beauty. After graduating from high school, her heart is broken when her childhood sweetheart Tuck moves away to college nad jilts here. But in her plucky style, she mends her heart and follows her dream, moving to the big smoke, New Orleans, and training at a prestigious beauty academy. There she captures the attention of one of her tutors, who sees in Calla Lily the "healing hands" of beauty that her own mother possessed, a rare and special gift.
I can't tell you what else happens in the story (not much I suspect), that's as far as I go - 200 pages out of 390 in and I was ready to put my head in the oven and turn the gas on. The phrase saccharine sweet could have been coined especially for this treacly sap of a book that lacks characterisation, motivation, plot, conflict, drama - you know, those things you need in a book to progress a storyline and maintain a reader's interest. There's no depth of story, everything is laid out for you in Calla's perfect little life. Calla is completely one dimensional, naive and guileless, universally adored by all for her looks and sweet nature - a fact that is repeated ad-nausum throughout the story. I found myself wanting to stuff her mane of amazing waist length hair down her throat and choke her with it. Of course then we would have had to sit through the crying and gnashing of teeth by her beloved friends who would get another chance to tell us how beautiful and wonder-freaking-ful Calla was.
There was so much I should have loved about this book. It ticked many of my boxes; set in the southern USA during the Black civil rights movement, a sassy female character, southern charm, and of course it was written by Rebecca Wells. I adored Little Alters Everywhere and Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood (Ya Yas in Bloom not so much). I actually wanted to be Sida or failing that, one of the Ya Yas - alcoholic addiction, depression and gay husband included! The only thing I wanted from The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder was to have the waste of precious reading time back and the brain cells that died off reading such drivel to be restored to me.
Take a bow Rebecca Wells, with The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder you just won my award for worst novel read in 2009. (I'm sorry you were suffering from Lyme Disease when you wrote this but that's no excuse for your publisher/editor allowing such terrible story writing!)