Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood: A Novel

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9780060173289: Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood: A Novel

“A big, blowzy romp through the rainbow eccentricities of three generations of crazy bayou debutantes.”
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“A very entertaining and, ultimately, deeply moving novel about the complex bonds between mother and daughter.”
Washington Post

“Mary McCarthy, Anne Rivers Siddons, and a host of others have portrayed the power and value of female friendships, but no one has done it with more grace, charm, talent, and power than Rebecca Wells.”
Richmond Times-Dispatch

The incomparable #1 New York Times bestseller—a book that reigned at the top of the list for an remarkable sixty-eight weeks—Rebecca Wells’s Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood is a classic of Southern women’s fiction to be read and reread over and over again. A poignant, funny, outrageous, and wise novel about a lifetime friendship between four Southern women, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood brilliantly explores the bonds of female friendship, the often-rocky relationship between mothers and daughters, and the healing power of humor and love, in a story as fresh and uplifting as when it was first published a decade and a half ago. If you haven’t yet met the Ya-Yas, what are you waiting for?

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Review:

Performed, not read, by the author is the key here. This highly spirited interpretation of the cult classic is, like the book, full of humor and surprises. It captures with ease the powerful lifelong friendship between four Southern women, the Ya-Ya's: Vivi, Teensy, Caro, and Necie. The author endows each of her charming characters with an inimitable Southern accent, from a low rumble for the aging oxygen-tank-carrying Caro, to the fresh innocent voice of Vivi as a child. The story moves back and forth from present to past when Vivi's daughter, Sidda, is faced with a crisis and is given the golden opportunity to explore the history of these devoted pals through her mother's secret scrapbook. Her journey is sprinkled with her own memories of her irrepressible and irresistible mother, and she is rewarded with glimpses of true love and loyalty against an often hilarious and poignant backdrop of life in the rural South.

Some favorite scenes, anecdotes, and the rich bayou background are not included on this abridged audiocassette, but fans of this special sisterhood will nonetheless enjoy listening to the author's take on the world of Thornton, Louisiana, and the female friendships she created there. (Running time: 3 hours, 2 cassettes) --Anne Depue

From the Back Cover:

Now, four years after her award-winning, underground bestseller, Little Altars Everywhere, praised by Pat Conroy as "a splendid first novel," Rebecca Wells returns with a masterfully written novel that brims with insight, humor and compassion.

When Vivi and Siddalee Walker, an unforgettable mother-daughter team, get into a savage fight over a New York Times article that refers to Vivi as a "tap-dancing child abuser," the fallout is felt from Louisiana to New York to Seattle. Siddalee, a successful theater director with a huge hit on her hands, panics and postpones her upcoming wedding to her lover and friend, Connor McGill. Vivi's intrepid gang of lifelong girlfriends, the Ya-Yas, sashay in and conspire to bring everyone back together.

In 1932, Vivi and the Ya-Yas were disqualified from a Shirley Temple Look-Alike Contest for unladylike behavior. Sixty years later, they're "bucking seventy" and still making waves. They persuade Vivi to send Sidda a scrapbook of girlhood mementos titled "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood."

With the scrapbook in hand, Sidda retreats to a cabin on Washington State's Olympic Peninsula, tormented by fear and uncertainty about the future, and intent on discovering the key to the tangle of anger and tenderness she feels toward her mother. But Vivi's album reveals more questions than answers and leads Sidda to encounter the legacy of imperfect love and the unknowable mystery of life.

With passion and a rare gift for language, Rebecca Wells moves from present to past, unraveling Vivi's life, her enduring friendships with the Ya-Yas and the reverberations of Siddalee. The collective power of the Ya-Yas, each of them totally individual and authentic, permeates this story of a tribe of Louisiana wild women who are impossible to tame.

Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood calls to mind The Joy Luck Club in its exploration of the relationships between mothers and daughters; in its unearthing of family secrets, it evokes The Prince of Tides. Ultimately, in its aching longing, in its deep humor, in its heartbreaking fun and in its joy and forgiveness, Rebecca Wells has created a big, original, incandescent novel whose Louisiana landscape and indelible characters radiate with grace, wit and love.

When Siddalee Walker, oldest daughter of Vivi Abbott Walker, Ya-Ya extraordinaire, is interviewed in the New York Times about a hit play she's directed, her mother gets described as a "tap-dancing child abuser." Enraged, Vivi disowns Sidda. Devastated, Sidda begs forgiveness, and postpones her upcoming wedding. All looks bleak until the Ya-Yas step in and convince Vivi to send Sidda a scrapbook of their girlhood mementos, called "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood." As Sidda struggles to analyze her mother, she comes face to face with the tangled beauty of imperfect love, and the fact that forgiveness, more than understanding, is often what the heart longs for.

Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood may call to mind Prince of Tides in its unearthing of family darkness; in its unforgettable heroines and irrepressible humor and female loyalty, it echoes Fannie Flagg's Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe.

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