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The Florabama Ladies' Auxiliary and Sewing Circle


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About the Author

Lois Battle's seven novels include Bed and Breakfast, Storyville, War Brides, and A Habit of the Blood, (all Penguin). She lives in Beaufort, South Carolina.


That readers who pick up Battle's (Bed & Breakfast) eighth novel, with its folksy, long Southern title, will expect something along the lines of the Ya-Yas is understandable; what awaits is, in fact, a considerably more sober affair. At age 50, Bonnie Duke Cullman has run out of luck. Accustomed since birth to a country-club existence, she's divorcing her no-good husband, who's just filed for bankruptcy, and striking out on her own. Never having had a serious job before, she accepts a position at a community college in Florabama, Ala.Äa position that, she later learns to her dismay, her father was instrumental in securing for her. A lingerie mill called Cherished Lady is being closed down, the work to be farmed out south of the border, and the college has hired Bonnie to run its program for displaced homemakers and workers. In a blind-leading-the-blind proposition, Bonnie is supposed to help the other women, many of whom are also middle-aged, figure out what to do with the rest of their livesÄpatient, religious Ruth wants to be a teacher; irascible, racist Hilly takes a job as a waitress in a Mexican restaurant. At times the novel feels like a stage set hammered together to support its pro-education message, but it compensates with likable characters and a core of compassion and independence. (Mar. 19) Forecast: A regional author tour will reinforce the novel's mostly local appeal, though its clever title may cause readers around the country to give the book a glance. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

In this eighth novel from Battle (Bed & Breakfast), Bonnie Duke Cullman, a displaced, wealthy, Atlanta housewife and socialite, is forced to find work after her husband declares bankruptcy and leaves her for a younger woman. Her best friend and her father conspire to get Bonnie a job teaching at a junior college in southern Alabama, where she will coordinate the program for displaced homemakers. On the same day that Bonnie leaves Atlanta for Florabama, the local lingerie factory closes, displacing the women who will become Bonnie's students. All of the women face adversity during this transitional year. Despite this promising premise, the novel fails to fulfill its potential; all the characters sound alike despite apparent class differences, and the story is predictable albeit sweet. Libraries with large romance collections will want to purchase, but otherwise the book is not recommended. Pam Kingsbury, Alabama Humanities Fdn., Florence Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

"An intelligent, poignant, funny, wistful novel of expectations, love and rebirth." --Richmond Times-Dispatch "This is just the kind of book you'd like to take onto the porch of a clapboard house, to read curled up in a wicker chair with a glass of iced tea at your side." --Houston Chronicle

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