A Book Review: Whistlin’ Dixie in a Nor’easter by Lisa Patton

I’ve decided to give you a little taste, not only of what I’m cooking these days, but also what I’m reading and, for that matter, watching, either on the tube (we don’t have cable, so it’ll be a DVDV, as Bubbe says) or on the big screen (or on http://www.hulu.com, my new favorite find).  First up: a review of Whistlin’ Dixie in a Nor’easter.  A book I recently read, written by Lisa Patton.  Her first.

I guess calling this a book review would imply that I have actual talent for this kind of thing.

I don’t.

What I do have is a real person’s perspective of the book.  I’ll be happy to tell you whether you should spend your money buying it or time at the library elbowing the lady next to you over it.

Here it is:

It’s a story about a native Memphian, Leelee Satterfield, who’s displaced to another part of the country.

Story of my life.

Only Leelee didn’t move to California, where there is no grass (water rations) and avocado goes on everything (the absolute best part of living in SoCal in my opinion!). No, she was transferred to Vermont, the land of mud and bugs, by her loving husband Baker, an insurance broker, who decided, in a mid-life crisis, that they should run an inn there.

Only he didn’t tell her about the mud.

Or the bugs.

Then, when they got there, he left her and their two, young daughters, for the ski bunny at the next lodge.

I  think my ADD is really kicking in these days. When I was younger, I had no problem paying attention for hours to mindless, senseless university lectures. These days, I can’t even make it through a book review without digressing into my own life experiences, what laundry I need to get done today, the big meeting I’m facilitating at work today, and how wonderful McDonald’s Diet Cokes taste, though I’ve been off that sauce for 3 years now.  I still remember that good burn you get when you suck some down through their giant straws, though. Don’t you love that?

Focus, Heather!

The book is hilarious and touching all at the same time. Long story, short?  Leelee,when faced with these challenges,  has to decide whether to tough it out and be a trooper about it, or pack her bags, tuck her tail and run home to Memphis and the waiting arms of her country club friends.

NOT the story of my life. The only time I’ve ever been to the country club was with a friend when I was a teenager, and I was well aware that wasn’t my scene.  If I had stayed around long enough, I knew that, at some point, I was going to have to wear a dress, and that’s so not okay.

The cast of characters includes, not only Leelee and her two, precious girls, but Baker the Evil and his bunny, Leelee’s hilarious country club friends (they cracked me up…no, really, I was laughing out loud, and that’s no small feat), and the inn employees.  There’s Roberta (Leelee’s stabilizing force in the winds of change), Pierre (the French maitre’d who dyes his hair and sneaks White Lightnin’ while he works), the Germans (oy.), and Peter (the dreamy chef Leelee hires after the exit of the Germans).

From country club homemaker to four star innkeeper, Leelee’s transformation is hysterical and believable.  Patton’s first attempt at this writing thing is, in my opinion, a success.

There is one thing I don’t understand, though.  Though her representation of Memphis seems real (historical places, guest appearance by Ron Olson, etc.), the cover of the book makes no sense to me. Yes, I get that the South is often symbolized by peaches and that the mittens symbolize Vermont. The beauty of the pink against the stark reality of the orange.  I was thinking though: aren’t peaches a Georgia thing? If she really wanted to symbolize Memphis, the delicate, pink mittened hands should be holding a Glock or a 9mm.

Just a thought.

Buy the book. Get it from the library. Read it somewhere where people won’t think you’re crazy if you’re alone and laughing out loud.

Again with the stories of my life.

Gotta go take the Ritalin.

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