Wednesday, February 29, 2012

#BookReview: Ain't She Sweet - Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Sugar Beth Carey is back in town.  Parrish, Mississippi's bad girl has returned home to the people that loved and now loath her.  When she left town after high school, she left behind her friends, the Seawillows.  She also left her doting mother, Diddie, the father that couldn't stand her and a teacher whose career she tried to ruin, vowing to never return.  And now she's back.

From the outside looking in, it would appear that Sugar Beth had everything going for her in high school.  She was the richest girl in town, dated the most popular boy at school, Ryan Gallantine, and she was the leader of the Seawillows, the most popular girls in school.  More than any of that, Sugar Beth wanted her father's attention and affection.  Both of those went to Winnie Davis instead, his father's daughter with his mistress.  So Sugar Beth acts out...a lot. When your mother is the most powerful woman in town, you can get away with a lot.

In her high school days, Sugar Beth made Winnie's life a living hell.  And when Mr. Byrnes, the new teacher from England lands in Parrish and sticks up for Winnie, Sugar Beth sets out to make his life hell too.  Fast forward almost 20 years and Winnie Davis is the new Diddie and the leader of the Seawillows and Mr. Byrnes now owns Frenchman's Bride, the home where Sugar Beth grew up.  Sugar Beth could give less than a damn about any of that.  She's only in town to find the painting her Great-aunt Tallulah left her and then she'll be gone.  Too bad things are never that simple.

I absolutely loved the character names in Ain't She Sweet.  I'm a sucker for a good southern name and it doesn't get much better than Sugar Beth Carey or Diddie.  The narrator did a good job of bringing out Sugar Beth's sarcastic tone and giving a voice to the other characters.  The only character's voice I didn't care for was Mr. Byrne.  Early on, we're told that he was in his early 20s when he came to Parrish, which would put him in his late 30s/very early 40s for most of the story.  Why then did he sound like Sean Connery?  Not only did he have the wrong accent (Scottish), he sounded over 60.  It was hard to reconcile that voice with the description of the character.  Other than that, the narrator gave a solid performance.

Published: February 2004
Listening time: 11 hours, 35 minutes

Theme: Long Way Around by The Dixie Chicks

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