Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Review: Whistlin' Dixie in a Nor'easter

Summary: Leelee Satterfield seemed to have it all: a gorgeous husband, two adorable daughters, and roots in the sunny city of Memphis, Tennessee. So when her husband gets the idea to uproot the family to run a quaint Vermont inn, Leelee is devastated…and her three best friends are outraged. But she’s loved Baker Satterfield since the tenth grade, how can she not indulge his dream? Plus, the glossy photos of bright autumn trees and smiling children in ski suits push her over the edge…after all, how much trouble can it really be?

But Leelee discovers pretty fast that there’s a truckload of things nobody tells you about Vermont until you live there: such as mud season, vampire flies, and the danger of ice sheets careening off roofs. Not to mention when her beloved Yorkie decides to pick New Year’s Eve to go to doggie heaven-she encounters one more New England oddity: frozen ground means you can’t bury your dead in the winter. And that Yankee idiosyncrasy just won’t do.

The inn they’ve bought also has its host of problems: an odor that no amount of potpourri can erase, tacky d├ęcor, and a staff of peculiar Vermonters whose personalities are as unique as the hippopotamus collection gracing the fireplace mantle. The whole operation is managed by Helga, a stern German woman who takes special delight in bullying Leelee for her southern gentility. Needless to say, it doesn’t take long for Leelee to start wondering when to drag out the moving boxes again.

But when an unexpected hardship takes Leelee by surprise, she finds herself left alone with an inn to run, a mortgage to pay, and two daughters to raise. But this Southern belle won’t be run out of town so easily. Drawing on the Southern grit and inner strength she didn’t know she had, Leelee decides to turn around the Inn, her attitude and her life. In doing so, she makes friends with her neighbors, finds a little romance, and realizes there’s a lot more in common with Vermont than she first thought.

In this moving and comedic debut, Lisa Patton paints a hilarious portrait of life in Vermont as seen through the eyes of a southern belle readers won’t soon forget. A charming fish-out-of-water tale of one woman who learns to stand up for herself-in sandals
and snow boots-against the odds. -- Thomas Dunne Books

Isn't the cover of this book absolutely gorgeous? -- talk about "cover attraction." When I saw WHISTLIN' DIXIE IN A NOR'EASTER by Lisa Patton, I just knew I had to read it -- probably didn't even matter what the book was about because the cover is so appealing! But then I heard that this was a very good "Southern" book, and this book because one of those must-reads for me. Even though I don't live in the South anymore, I did spend most of my childhood and part of my adulthood down there; and in many ways, I still consider myself partial to the South (especially now that I'm dealing with all this snow!)

The book is really about Leelee, a wife and mother of two, whose husband decides to uproot his family and move them from Tennessee to Vermont -- talk about culture (and weather) shock! He is tired of working in insurance and decides to buy an old inn. He wants a new start and thinks that he and Leelee can just run a bed and breakfast with little to no restaurant experience. Leelee is less than thrilled to be leaving her home, but she believes she is doing what is right for her marriage and her family. I thought her husband was acting like an immature and selfish jerk, and I could so see where this story was going!!!

I enjoyed WHISTLIN' DIXIE IN A NOR'EASTER very much. In fact, I think the book got better and better as I read it. I liked Leelee from the first few pages even though she definitely had some issues, and I was very concerned that she would leave everything behind (including her friends) just to follow her husband's whims -- I guess I'm not that kind of a wife. Even though I haven't moved much as an adult (I moved a lot as a child though), I would really relate to her attempts to acclimate to a new hometown. I thought the author did a fantastic job of detailing the differences in Tennessee and Vermont from the weather, to the people, to the clothes, etc. I found much of Leelee's efforts to fit in to be kind of pitiful but also kind of funny!

I found myself really becoming absorbed in WHISTLIN' DIXIE IN A NOR'EASTER when Leelee ends up running the inn by herself because of a huge surprise. In fact, I didn't even set the book down from this point on because I had to see if Leelee would go back home or decide to stay in Vermont.

I really loved how Leelee's character matured and blossomed once she realized how much she could handle on her own. For her entire life, she had always depended on her husband and father (and really always obeyed them); and I think Leelee represented the strength and resilience of all women. I also really appreciated how the author showed the value of good female friends and how much women can accomplish when they work together.

I think WHISTLIN' DIXIE IN A NOR'EASTER would make a fantastic discussion book because first and foremost, it is a fun book. There is no doubt that Leelee and her situation will appeal to a wide variety of female readers. In addition, there are quite a few topics for discussion within the pages of this book, and I even found a wonderful discussion guide. Some of the things your group might find themselves talking about include marital obligations, self-discovery, motherhood, friendship, happiness, and independence. Ms. Patton is also available for speakerphone author chats, so head over to her gorgeous website to learn more.

If you are like me and love Southern fiction, then you will definitely not want to miss WHISTLIN' DIXIE IN A NOR'EASTER. It is a very entertaining book about the strength of women and their friendships -- plus it's just filled with Southern charm.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a review copy of this book.

17 comments:

Mary said...

I skimmed your review and look forward to reading the book - it has been on my wish list for a while. Great cover!

Beth F said...

I like the sound of this. I would love to see clash between the dream and the reality of running an inn.

Sandy Nawrot said...

I like Southern fiction too. The South just has built-in atmosphere and lots of personality. I find the plot funny as well, because there are so many people out there that have the romantic but unrealistic fantasy of owning a B&B.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

This sounds so good. And I too love the cover. I would love to say I am not influenced by an attractive cover which should have nothing to do with whether a book is good or bad, but I am - at the least, it gets me to pick it up and thumb through the book.

bermudaonion said...

You know I love Southern fiction and I know all about moving around and learning to adjust to a new place. This book sounds perfect for me. I love the cover too!

Beth(bookaholicmom) said...

I adore Southern fiction and books about New England so this is a must read for me! That cover draws me in too. Thanks for the great review. I'll be putting this on my wish list!

Serena said...

This sounds like a fun book! Great cover and great review.

Jenn's Bookshelves said...

That cover is gorgeous!

stacybuckeye said...

That cover is so gorgeous and I'm glad the book matches it :)

Amused said...

I love books set in the South and I agree, that cover is beautful! Can't wait to read it!

Lisa said...

Sounds like a fun read.

Karlie said...

Sounds like a great read!

carolsnotebook said...

Sound like a good one and you're right, the cover is gorgeous.

KyleeJ said...

Great cover and review. Thanks for adding to my TBR. =)

April said...

This sounds sooo good! I LOVE the title! I am going to have to add this to my TBR list. Great review!

Jenny Girl said...

This sounds really cute! I'm definitely writing this one down. Thanks Julie!

S. Krishna said...

I really enjoyed this one as well. I can't wait for the sequel. Great review!