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Thanks for visiting Tinfoil Magnolia, a blog about my life, times, marriage, friendships and all the strange things that happen to me and with me. I hope you find something here that will encourage you, inspire you or at the least entertain you. And if it doesn't today, check back tomorrow because, my life? honestly...

Tuesday, May 25

I don't "do" book reviews, but...

If anyone has ever wondered how I felt when we moved from Nashville up to Pennsylvania (and I am sure you just sit around thinking about it constantly) check out the book, Whistlin' Dixie in a Nor'easter by Lisa Patton. (For you Nashville folks, no, it isn't the Channel 2 weather woman.) I had the pleasure of meeting Lisa at the SoKy Book Festival back in April and she is a spunky redhead who raised two sons as a single mother and began writing this, her first novel, in her 40's.

The story is of a woman, Lee Lee, who leads an idyllic life in Memphis along with her husband, two young daughters and her little dog, Princess Grace Kelly. Oh, and her three lifelong best friends, we must not forget the friends. She is an authentic modern day Southern Belle, and when her husband decides that he wants to "follow his bliss" she is not happy about the thought of moving to Vermont to run an inn. However, in the way that only Southern women can do, she acquiesces and off they go to one of our Northern most states. The story is about her adjustment to this strange life and all the trials and tests of will that she must go through during her life there. Not the least of which is the death of her beloved dog, Princess Grace Kelly.

Throughout the entire book I was able to completely identify with Lee Lee on everything about leaving the South and landing in the north. One exception is that I didn't have an inn to run and I didn't have 2 children to get up for every day. But everything rang true to me from the dealing with unusual customs and less than friendly neighbors to the colloquial language she had to deal with and the northern accent that is so grating to Southern ears.

Honestly, I almost had to put the book down a quarter of the way through because I felt as though I was reliving my first few months in the north, feeling so aggravated and angry. When her husband mentioned moving, I screamed in my head "NO don't do it!!! When we first moved I felt so alone and so different everywhere I went. I was the kooky Southern girl and no one could relate to me beyond making fun of my "hick" accent (yes someone called it that). I met 2 or 3 people (literally, 2 or 3) who were friends to me like I would have had "back home" but for the most part, those people up there? I just didn't get them, didn't get how grouchy and negative and short they were and how they didn't just let loose and have fun. I didn't get how cashiers and waitresses wouldn't talk to you. I didn't get how people looked at you like you were crazy if you spoke to them waiting in line at the grocery store. I didn't get how they related to each other with such negativity, and I just plain didn't like most of them. Most of all, I didn't get how whenever I did something different they always said "that must be a Southern thing". Yeah, politeness and friendliness. Those were invented in the south and were kept here, obviously.

I made myself push on through the book and was rewarded with a beautiful scene in which her friends help her out of the biggest jam ever. From there on out the book was total happiness, a story about the enormous difference friends can make in anyone's life. I didn't have anyone to rescue me, but that is mainly due to the fact that I didn't tell anyone how bad things had gotten for me until I was better. I rescued myself by getting out of a job I had taken with a horrible woman, getting myself into counseling, going back to school to get a degree I had wanted for at least 5 years. Finally I began to make friends, enjoy life, and I obtained a great job in my new field. I pulled myself out of the situation in true Steel Magnolia fashion, as only a Southern girl could do. And when I did? I stopped worrying about those people. And then we moved back home to KY for my husband's job. Yes, the universe has a sense of humor.

Reading this book was difficult for me, but I think Lisa did a beautiful job of making you feel as though the early chapters are in black and white (or a dull Northern gray). Once you hit that mid-point, though, I felt like everything turned into technicolor. Sort of like that scene in the Wizard of Oz. I enjoyed this book for all the descriptives and the true voice Lisa gives to LeeLee and all the characters. Even the fact that I was aggravated and angry is a testament to her writing such a vivid account that it rang true with my experience. Thanks, Lisa for such a great book! I enjoyed the read.

Oh, and on a side note, my beloved cat Spaz died while we lived in Pennsylvania after living to the ripe old age of 18. I was completely distraught about what to do with him and when hubby wondered out loud where we could bury him I wailed "I am NOT burying him in f-ing Pennsylvania. NONE of us are going to be buried in f-ing Pennsylvania, do you hear me?! Help me figure out what to do with him!!!" And that is how we ended up driving home to Kentucky, 5 months later, with a frozen cat in a styrofoam cooler in the back of my SUV to be buried in mid-March at my mom and dad's house. Honestly.

1 comment:

  1. Growing up a yankee, I do have a fondness for certain things of the north but I must agree that in general, casual interpersonal relations have gone the way of the dinosaur... I'm not sure when it happened as it hasn't always been that way. In my life I do remember a friendlier north! When heading down south I don't mind the accents, enjoy the conversation, and occasionally want to finish a sentence for someone talking just a bit too slow... sometimes the slow pace is great and sometimes just too much to handle and in those moments I remember that I work behind a keyboard and I can always choose my own pace! Could I live in the south? Yeah I'm pretty sure I'd do just fine! Pass the sweet tea please!