#49: Queen Bee of Mimosa Branch by Haywood Smith

Queen BeeI am not the target audience for this book, but I still liked it.

Main character:

Linwood Breedlove Scott.  Lin.  Lin Breedlove.  No longer Lin Scott.

Fifty-something years old.

Southern.  So very Southern.  Get your hair and lipstick straight because someone might see you at any moment.  Don’t you dare go out on the porch at night without checking your face in the mirror.

Divorced.  Badly divorced.  No-good husband got himself engaged to a stripper.  Thirty years of marriage and she finds out he’s spent every single penny on this girl, running Lin deep into debt.  When she tries to explain that he can’t be married to her while engaged to a stripper, she finally realizes the marriage is over.

Hot flashes.

Plot:

Heading back to Georgia.

Her family is fucking crazy.  Southern crazy, which might be the best kind of crazy because you have to be proper even if your uncle is running around the front yard mostly naked because someone is trying to steal his shoes.  That someone is his wife, but he doesn’t recognize her all the time.  Still, this is not the time to forget your manners.  You better be polite when hauling his elderly body back up the front steps and into the house.

Penniless and with almost no work history, she’s forced to move back home with her controlling eighty-something year old mother, her sometimes lucid but always angry father, and the aforementioned aunt and uncle.  She’s also got a brother, but things fell apart between the two of them years ago and it seems like they can’t breathe the same air without getting into a fight.

So here she is, back home, feeling helpless and hopeless.  Pissed off at the world.  Stuck in a room under her parents’ roof, seething and miserable.

My reactions:

There was a lot about this book that I liked.  The friendships between Lin and her friends are wonderful to see.  They are also very Southern.  If they don’t like someone, they are beautifully polite as they imply that perhaps this lady should go fuck herself.  But of course none of them even know the phrase “go fuck herself” so it comes out as poetry and sweetness.  I learned that you can get a Ph.D. in Southern Bitch.  My Yankee self approves of this and while they might see me as coarse and rude, I am in awe of how prettily they can slit a girl’s throat.

The story is Lin coming to terms with who she is now that she’s fifty-something, divorced and living at home.  She needs to redefine herself in a town where everyone already knows where she is.

There’s a nice story line about dirty politics and how the world works when good people want change to happen in a town where people are terrified to ask even the simplest of questions.

And then there are the men in Lin’s world and Smith’s writing.

Wow.

These guys suck.

I don’t know if Smith has an axe to grind or if it’s simply Lin, but the men in her world are terrible and I felt bad for how they were represented.  All of them are terrible and only after one thing, although it might not even be THAT one thing.  Lin is able to see her father and uncle in a different light through her mother and uncle, but even those moments are hazed over by how much she hates men.  Maybe not hates, but she definitely sees them all as pigs and dogs.

She has an interesting relationship with the guy next door.  She can’t decide if she hates him or loves him, but in either case, she wants to do him.  Hard.  Lots of doin’ it.

I could not figure out his character at all.  There are moments where Lin completely loses her shit on him and I couldn’t find what he had done to make her respond this way.  There is one giant scene where I was on Lin’s side, but then she went into this tirade and I was all “WTF is happening here?”  It defined the relationship from that point forward and I had no clue what happened.  It was obviously important because her girlfriends supported her and backed her up, but I do not know what happened.  Maybe I wasn’t paying attention when I was reading it, or maybe it was too Southern subtle for a damn Yankee to understand.

Still, even though this is a world I do not live in, it did make for an interesting visit.  Things ended nicely, the way you expect a Southern party to end.

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