After all, the main character is named after a flower – “The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder” by Rebecca Wells

May 13, 2012 at 10:04 pm Leave a comment

The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder” by Rebecca Wells, Published in 2009

Um, okay  this is a tough one.  This book tested the theory “can I like a book even if I find the main character (who is supposed to be endearing) insipid and silly?”  And honestly, I just don’t know.

Calla Lily is born in the small Louisana town of La Luna in the early 1960s. Her parents own a dance studio and her mom, M’Dear, also runs a beauty shop out on the side porch.  Calla Lily grows up riding horses, swimming in the river bordering the town, and watching her mother dance and cut hair. She  falls in love with the neighbor boy, makes amazing childhood friends, and learns about life from all of the adult women around her. Calla Lily’s life seems pretty picturesque until M’Dear is diagnosed with and eventually surcomes to cancer.   The story then follows Calla Lily as she learns to cope with her first and perhaps greatest loss, that of her mother, only to have it followed by other loves and losses.

When Calla Lily graduates from high school she moves to New Orleans to go to cosmetology school to learn to do hair and use the healing power in her hands.  She loves that it is called cosmetology school because it sounds like the cosmos (yep, that’s right). While in school she continues to stay close to  her childhood friends but also becomes friends with some pretty fun characters.  Wells’ description of New Orleans in the 70s and the characters Calla Lily collects make this part of the story interesting so I stuck it out.  Of course, Calla Lily must face more tragedy and then has to overcome adversity which finally leads her to where she was always meant to be – trust me, you have read this all before.

I found the character of Calla Lily unbelievable and therefore, unrelatable.  I understand that Wells is trying to create a naiveté in her so that her life experiences are somehow more meaningful but for me it fell flat. Calla Lily just seemed like a silly girl who had no real opinions or original thoughts.  This is unfortunate because Wells does try to address some heavy issues in this book – death, being gay on the 70s, alcoholism, the healing relationships of women friends, etc. All of it could have been much more effective if the main character was of a greater depth.

I did read ” The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood” (also by Wells) years ago and I liked it. It is impressive that she keeps trying to focus her writing on women and the significance of their relationships with each other. I guess I just wish it struck a deeper chord with the reader, or at least with me.  What I think women like about her books is Wells makes her female relationships, for the most part, strong and positive not catty or cruel. That is a rarity in storytelling but really it shouldn’t be and I think it could be done much, much better.

Other reviews you should check out:

From Book Addiction

From Beth’s Book-Nook Blog 

From Literature and Leisure 

Brooklyn Museum - Calla Lily - Fidelia Bridges...

Brooklyn Museum – Calla Lily – Fidelia Bridges – overall (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Entry filed under: May 2012 reads. Tags: , , .

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There is some great literature out there, but there is a lot of bad literature as well. We shouldn't all have to read it. These are my recommendations and thoughts about the books I read.

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