Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Book Review and a Few New Blooms

The first of June always means the beginning of summer to me, no matter what the calendar may say.  School is out, and the pace of life seems to slow down.  Whether you are planning a relaxing getaway soon or, like me, planning to relax on the couch during the hot afternoons after a morning of gardening, you may be looking for a good book to while away those hours.  If so, I have the perfect fun read for lazy summer afternoons--The Supremes at Earl's All-You-Can-Eat.

Best friends since high school, Odette, Clarice, and Barbara Jean were first dubbed "The Supremes" by Little Earl of the All-You-Can-Eat in Plainview, Indiana.  Now, nearly forty years later, they still gather at the diner every Sunday after church with their husbands to share good food, family news, and, of course, the latest gossip.

Not to distract you too much, but I have to show off a little of what is blooming now in my garden.  First, my big box store bargain peony is covered with huge blooms for the first time ever.

Feisty Odette is happily married but doesn't confide in her husband about some strange encounters she has had recently.  Clarice, not so happily married, is a gifted pianist who gave up a promising career to marry her high school sweetheart, the star football player, now a philandering husband.  Barbara Jean, who has overcome a troubled childhood, still turns heads with her beauty.  But a tragic loss many years before has left a hole in her heart that not even her best friends can mend.

The iris have done so well this year--this, a true-blue passalong from my mother.
The story weaves easily from present to past as events and characters from the past help to explain the forces that shaped their lives and the bond these women share.  Although a somewhat surprising revelation is made near the end of the book, this is a novel driven by its characters rather than by plot.  And what memorable characters they are!

'Nelly Moser' clematis

The three protagonists are admirable and compelling, but this book has a whole town full of entertaining and often quirky characters.  My favorite has to be Odette's mother whose habit of smoking pot (as preventative medicine for glaucoma, she says) embarrasses her family.  "Mama" is frequently visited by people who have passed on and isn't afraid to give her opinion on any subject.  Early in the book she gives this advice to Odette on dealing with hot flashes:

"You might want to get that checked out.  You don't wanna change too much.  Your Aunt Marjorie started changin' and kept it up till she changed into a man . . . Okay, maybe she didn't switch all the way over to a man, but Marjorie grew a mustache, shaved her head, and took to wearin' overalls to church.  I'm not sayin' the look didn't suit her; I'm just sayin' you can draw a straight line between her first hot flash and that bar fight she died in."

Allium 'Roseum'

Obviously, Mama contributes some comic relief in the book.

'Zephirine Drouhin,'  a climbing rose, is smothered in blooms in only her third year.

If you didn't look at the book jacket first, you might be surprised that the author is male, because the voices of women ring true throughout the novel. Edward Kelsey Moore says that his debut novel was inspired by conversations he overheard among the women in his family. "My intention in writing this novel was to celebrate the joy of true friendship and to invite readers to remember the smart, funny, and strong women in their lives."

Moore definitely succeeds--you may find yourself laughing or crying as you read, but most of all, you will wish you, too, could join Odette, Clarice, and Barbara Jean for a Sunday afternoon at Earl's All-You-Can-Eat.

And finally, with all the rain we've had this spring, I also have plenty of these "blooms"!

Disclaimer:  No compensation of any kind was received for this review.  I review only books I like and think others would enjoy reading; I either check the book out of the library, or, as in this case, purchase my own copy.

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@Barrie Summy


  1. You got me totally distracted with the peony, lost me with the iris, and then it went on from there. No fair! Hard to concentrate on the review when there were such lovelies to see : )

  2. Ha, Laurrie, I probably shouldn't have added so many garden photos:) But things are changing so quickly in the garden, and I knew I wouldn't get up another post very soon, so I couldn't resist. By the way, I think you'd enjoy this book.

  3. Being a "Non-Book reader" I enjoyed the distraction of blooms :-) That Blue Iris is awesome to my eyes!

  4. Both the flowers and the book look lovely.

  5. Hi, Rose!
    Interesting book, pity I couldn't find it in translation.
    The clematis 'Nelly Moser' is unusual, I love the stripes on its petals.
    Happy gardening and relaxing after dinner!

  6. Love the iris and Nelly Moser. Your clematis is blooming a couple weeks ahead of mine.

  7. Hi Rose...I have to say that first I scrolled through to look at all these beauties!! Then I went back and read your review...the book sounds like a good read!!

  8. Great review, sounds interesting. Love Osette's mom. And thx for the garden pix, so pretty. We had peonies in the backyard when I was growing up in PA, so a little nostalgic. All are gorgeous though.

  9. I went right to Amazon and ordered the book.Your review was excellent.
    I loved the flowers too.

  10. Rose, if I ever get a place with enough sun, Zephirine is on my list. It takes a little more shade than most roses though, right? Glad you're able to carve out a little reading time.

  11. Yes, you totally distracted me with your photos! My Peonies still haven't bloomed! I think this is the latest date ever--usually they bloom near Memorial Day, and almost always before the end of May. Oh well, it will probably happen this weekend! Love them. That book sounds interesting (I had to go back to read about it. ;-) Thanks for the review!

  12. I love the title! And what a great excerpt. Re gardening: you would be so proud of me, Rose. I'm actually planting this year! So far, I have planted (with the help of my 13 y.o.): tomatoes, cucumber, strawberries, cilantro, and a few varieties of flowers, including sunflowers from the seeds of our sunflowers from last summer. ;) Thanks for reviewing! Always a pleasure to see what you've been reading!

  13. An interesting book review and then some gorgeous flowers... My kind of blog. Actually I have two blog pretty much along the same lines. :)

  14. What a fun review! I may need to read that one. I am surprised the author is a man. Just goes to show that some men do listen. :) Have a beautiful day.~~Dee

  15. I loved your peonies and your clematis. I just love those early spring flowers.

  16. I am adding this one to the reading list and Rose, June 1 does feel like summer! Love the peony~Nice find.

  17. The flowers were definitely distracting! That's neat a male wrote this book about women.

  18. Hi Rose :-) The pale pink Peony is beautiful, I wonder if it is the same type as one of mine which has a beautiful scent of apple blossom? Lovely to see the ever faithful Nelly Moser also.

    The book sounds fun but my towering stack by the bed says it can't bear any more ;-) I'm never too keen on novels which switch from the present to the past or ones about women written by men but it does sound very well observed and written. I hooted at the bit about Aunt Marjorie 'changin' ' to a man :-)

    Sorry to have missed commenting on two more of your posts Rose. I'm really struggling with blogging at the moment :-( I did enjoy both posts though and your photos were beautiful. The tree blossom and tulips were particularly lovely.

  19. That peony is beautiful.

    Right, I am going to have to read that book after reading that quote from it!

  20. Obviously a chick book but I enjoyed looking at some of your pretties including that blue hand me down from your mother. So special when you have things like that in your life.

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  22. Beautiful photos, wonderful spring flowers:) Greetings

  23. Your garden is already blooming so beautifully. But lazy summer days still seem a ways away. Maybe after the Annual Rose Viewing. I love your roses!

  24. Life has a way of never turning out quite the way you think it will does it? This sounds like a great read Rose! I wish I had life-long friends like Barbara Jean, Odette and Clarice.

  25. Skeeter, the blue iris is my favorite; I just wish I had more of them!

    Pattinase, Not sure I did this book justice--it really is good.

    Nadezda, This clematis' name tag was lost long ago; I hope I've correctly identified it as 'Nelly Moser.'

    Jason, The clematis is one of the few plants that seems to be blooming at its "normal" time.

    Christy, I haven't had much time for blogging lately, so I couldn't resist showing off a few recent blooms. Thanks for going back and reading the review, too!

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  27. Linda, My mom always had peonies, too; this is my first one, and I'm so happy to see it finally bloom.

    Balisha, I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did!

  28. DJ, Originally I had planned to plant Zephirine in a shadier place, because it is supposed to tolerate some shade. But it's in full sun here.

    Plant Postings, I thought my peony was late, too, but since is the first year for many blooms on it, I'm not sure. My coneflowers are about to bloom, though, which is early. Happy reading!

    Barrie, Sounds like you and your 13-year-old have been busy planting! Thanks for hosting this; I enjoy sharing when I've found a good book.

    Troutbirder, So many blooms have come and gone, I haven't had time to post them all here. Thanks for visiting!

    Dee, If I hadn't seen his picture on the book jacket, I would have sworn this was written by a woman!

    Sally, I just wish both the peonies and clematis would last longer!

    Gail, I didn't have high expectations of this peony as cheap as it was, but it is certainly looking as good as any expensive cultivar this year!

    Tina, I know some people aren't readers, so the flower photos are eye candy:)

  29. Rose girl did you remember to unload that mulch ? .. I finally got 8 bags spread through the garden but I need about 4 more ... I am so tired from crawling on my hands and knees! haha
    Sounds like a funny book with the mother's comments .. and your beautiful garden plants have me jealous. My Zephirine D. has been sickly this year .. I can't quite figure out what is wrong .. makes me sad because she is a beauty when she is happy like yours is !
    Joy : )

  30. Sounds like my kind of book Rose, I will make a note of it, impressive that a male author manages authentic female dialogue. Love your blue passalong iris!

  31. Love the Zephirine Drouhin. Zephirine Drouhin is the fact that it is almost thornless, which makes it a great choice for growers who want the beauty of roses in their gardens, but aren't sure if they want to deal with thorns.

  32. That sounds like a fun book - I love the premise and the humor. Sorry to be a month late to visit this post, but better late than never. Catching up on blogs, friends and books are on my agenda.
    PS Your garden is lovely too. It was delightful scrolling through all your gorgeous blooms to find this old post.


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