Summary: Carlisle Wainwright Cushing, of the old-moneyed Willow Creek, Texas Wainwrights, is the daughter of larger-than-life Ridgely Wainwright… Cushing-Jameson-Lackley-Harper-Ogden. Given her mother’s predilection for divorce, is anyone surprised that Carlisle became a divorce lawyer, far away in Boston, where no one, including her fiancé, knows she’s an heiress. But now, three years later, Carlisle is lured back to Texas to deal with her mother’s latest divorce which has the whole town talking, and the family-sponsored 100th annual debutante ball which is on the verge of collapse. Suddenly the determined lawyer is weighing the merits of beads vs. crystals on ball gowns and teaching eighteen year olds to balance books on their heads, all the while trying to figure out how to tell her deeply Southern mother that she is engaged to a Yankee. Things go from bad to worse and she’s afraid she’ll never get back to Boston, at least with her reputation intact, especially when good ol’ Southern boy Jack Blair shows up on the opposite side of the divorce court, making her wonder if the man is going after her mother in the proceedings, or her given the pesky little fact that she left him three years earlier.
Her trip home challenges Carlisle’s sense of who she really is and forces her to face the secrets her family has tried to keep, well, secret. Funny and smart, poignant and true, THE EX-DEBUTANTE is a story about the risks one woman must take if she stands a chance of finding herself, real love, and her place in that crazy thing we call family. -- st. martins press
When I was contacted by Authors on the Web about possible reading the EX-DEBUTANTE by Linda Francis Lee, I thought it looked like a fun, light read. The book was actually perfect for the mood I've been in lately. I wanted to read something that didn't require any heavy thinking, especially after reading a book about the Holocaust and being stuck home with a sick kid. This book hit the spot -- I was thoroughly entertained!
I loved the character of Carlisle; and I thought she was hilarious, especially in her exchanges with Jack. Ms. Francis Lee did a wonderful job of describing the sexual tension between them. I can so see this book as a movie (On a side note: Ms. Francis Lee's first novel THE DEVIL IN THE JUNIOR LEAGUE has been optioned by Universal Studios, and Jennifer Garner has signed on the star in and produce it.) I also enjoyed the disfunctional family interactions between Carlisle and her mother and sister.
Even though I consider this book to be a light read, THE EX-DEBUTANTE actually did have a few good life lessons within its pages. Although there were plenty of examples of awful female behavior, most of the characters redeemed themselves by the end of the novel. I especially enjoyed seeing the growth of Carlise. Even though she was close to 30 and thought she was on the right track with her life, she still was able to figure out a lot about herself (and her relationship with her mother) in this book.
I got a lot of laughs from Linda Francis Lee's website. Included in THE EX-DEBUTANTE section is a Letter from Carlisle to the Reader, Instructions for How to Dance, Helpful Hints for Debutantes and lots of other fun things. I also read about Ms. Francis Lee's other books, and I definitely think I'm going to read THE DEVIL IN THE JUNIOR LEAGUE (which is now out in paperback.)
This book would make a great summer or vacation read. If your book club is looking for something a little lighter for the summer months, I suggest giving THE EX-DEBUTANTE a try. There are actually quite a few things to talk about such as family relations, love and finding one's true self; and there is even a reading guide available. It may not be a "traditional" book club selection, but I'm pretty sure that it will be an entertaining one.
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