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Georgia Bottoms: A Novel Hardcover – 23 February 2011
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- Publisher : Little, Brown and Company; 1st edition (23 February 2011)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 278 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0316033049
- ISBN-13 : 978-0316033046
- Dimensions : 16.51 x 2.54 x 24.77 cm
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Georgia spends her hour in church Sunday morning contemplating her life rather than listening to the sermon. We find her doing just that as the novel begins — checking her mental “to do” list, contemplating her age and beauty, suffering silently about the lack of air conditioning in the church, and pleasantly remembering the hours spent last night in the arms of one of her regulars. At one point, however, she begins to realize what the preacher (her Saturday night client, Eugene), is saying and what he is about to do: confess his own sins and completely destroy her reputation. Georgia is nothing, if not a fast thinker, and the next thing we know, she has made her way to the aisle and executed a perfect faint which distracts everyone and derails the sermon. A little while later, recuperating in the choir room, she is confronted by Eugene’s wife, Brenda, who apparently is intent on embarrassing her husband, Georgia, herself, and her family, and if she has anything to do with it, it will happen. Eugene and Brenda will have to go!
The story of Georgia Bottoms is fast-paced and involves us with many of the people in the community of Six Points, Alabama, a small backwater where integration has happened but not so far as to impose itself on the white community too much. Georgia’s philosophy is : “Everybody just forget about it. White people, get used to it. Black people, stop dwelling on it. . . get on with our lives.” Her friend Mayor Krystal is trying to annex the black community of the town but it’s being blocked by Judge Barnett, Georgia’s Sunday night client. Georgia never asks a favour but she does know how to go in a roundabout way to achieve a particular goal. She doesn’t realize what Krystal realizes, that adding all those black voters will likely see her ousted as mayor.
As the story develops, we see Georgia fall into lots of “scrapes” but eventually find her way out, showing lots of gumption and poise as she does it. Given Georgia’s way to support her various relations, you can expect a bit of description of sexual encounters but there’s nothing vulgar or gratuitous about it and there’s not a lot of it. This really is just a fun, fast read about a Southern gal using her talents to get by with a bit of fun poked at racists and hypocrites. The ending will likely be a surprise and leave you quite contented. I’m not going to spoil it for you. A great Southern book.
The sexual theme was something I find morally abhorent, but also a unique and very interesting take on human relationships, to the point that it fascinated me much more than the storylines about Georgia's friend or family.
The chapter on 9/11 seemed really awkward and not too relevant to the rest of the book, similarly, some passages of time seemed jerky and awkward. This book was a guilty pleasure, which is probably why I zipped through it as quickly as I did.
Georgia is eccentric, and funny, a modern day Scarlett O'Hara with the guts and glory to boot. Dealing with the ever-present issue of race in small Southern towns the book lightly deals with hate and race from racist Little Mamma, to the appearance of Georgia's son Nathan. There's the controversy that prompts her mayor best friend to leave, and the timely arrival of a new preacher Brent. What we learn from Georgia is that you can't keep a good Southern Woman down. Don't try to fool Georgia- she'll stay one step ahead come hell or high water.
Speaking of hell and high water- this brings me to my only issue with the book. SPOILER ALERT- Childress ends the book with Georgia driving into New Orleans, just as the city is emptying out. Without saying so, Childress makes it obvious to the reader that Georgia is headed into a New Orleans that's about to be ravaged by hurricane Katrina, a city Georgia has dreamed of her entire life.
Yes, she's been a sinner, a homewrecker, and a liar. But a hypocrit she is not, and Georgia owns her flaws before leaving town. There's a town full of sinners and homewreckers. What suprised me is why Childress would choose to end with Georgia headed for devastation. Even though she has some flaws, I adore Georgia Bottoms character. She's not a bad person as Childress helps the reader to see. She's a good friend, a good sister, a good daughter, a great friend to Krystal. He doesn't redeem her. Even in Crazy in Alabama Childress lets Aunt Lucille off the hook and she toted around a tupperware bowl with her dead husband's head. It's his story to do with as he pleases, I just didn't like the ending. I wanted Georgia to move on, and maybe find redemption or a new life. I was shocked he would do this to her. I hate when authors turn on a character that I've grown to love dispite her flaws. But, maybe things turn out ok. My only hope is that Georgia went on to stay one step ahead of hell and high water. I kinda hope this isn't the last time we'll see this character from Childress.
Ultimately a pretty quick read, with touches of heaviness that don't weigh down the novel. Childress is always fun, and entertaining to read with some of the most lively characters you'll ever find. If you've never read a book by him, and you like Southern writing, then you HAVE GOT to read Childress. His characters are outlandish, eccentric, and funny. He brings so much life to his characters, but his books are page-turners, absolutely quick reads. Happy reading!