But flouting the traditions and expectations of Southern society turns out to be more complicated than they ever anticipated. Even as the pressure of running a business bonds them together, the realities of managing real life threaten to tear the whole thing apart. As financial woes, personal hurts, and family troubles test the strength of their business and their friendship, they discover that sisterly support and lots of heartfelt prayer just might be the only way to survive.
Full of sass, grit, and good old-fashioned faith, How Dolly Parton Saved My Life is a hilarious and poignant look at friendship with a distinctly Southern flair. -- Broadway
My on-line book club wanted to read something a little lighter for the month of August, so we decided to go with HOW DOLLY PARTON SAVED MY LIFE: A NOVEL OF THE JELLY JAR SISTERHOOD by Charlotte Connors. Unfortunately, I missed our meeting because my family was celebrating my kids' birthdays, but I'm not sure that this book was really an "ideal" pick for the women in our group anyway.
I don't regret reading this book, but I thought it was just okay. Parts of the story entertained me for a few hours, but I really don't think that I'll remember much about this book in a few weeks. It was part Southern fiction, part women's fiction, part chick lit, and (a big) part Christian fiction. Usually I would be drawn to a book that incorporates all of these components, but I'm sorry to say that HOW DOLLY PARTON SAVED MY LIFE fell a little short for me.
HOW DOLLY PARTON SAVED MY LIFE is the story of four women who join together to start a catering business. The chapters alternate between each of the women so the reader gets to know and understand each one of them. All four women have their fair share of personal issues from problems with their love life/husbands to issues with their children and their church. By the end of the story, each of the women discover things about themselves while at the same time developing friendships with the others.
I wasn't aware of this when I started the book, but there is also a pretty heavy Christian theme running throughout the novel. In fact, I definitely would classify HOW DOLLY PARTON SAVED MY LIFE as Christian fiction. I don't read a lot of Christian fiction so I'm probably not the best judge, but I thought this book was almost heavy-handed at times. However, I did think that parts of this book were cute and it was a feel-good book about the strength of women and their friendships -- it's just not one that resonated with me as a whole.
The author did attempt to make this story multi-dimensional. She threw in some twists and surprises for the characters; however, I still found much of the story (and the characters) to be kind of predictable. I can't say that I minded reading the book, but there was nothing that kept me truly hooked on the story or the characters. Having said that, I did appreciate the basic messages that the author was trying to convey about motherhood, friendship, and faith.
There was one thing that did stand out to me in this book. I thought the quotations from Dolly Parton that were included were hilarious I can't really say that I know many Dolly Parton songs or lyrics (the extent of my knowledge is pretty much Dolly Parton night on American Idol), but I loved how funny and insightful many of the quotes were. I have to say my absolute favorite was the one at the end of the book:
"If you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain."
I'm not sure that our book group had much to talk about, but there is a reader's guide available. Some of the themes that appear in the book include friendship, love, secrets, spiritual growth, mother-daughter relationships, self awareness, perseverance, the dilemmas of working moms, guilt, and trust to name a few. This book might work really well for a book group made of up young Christian moms.
Despite all of this, I do think that there is an audience for this novel. I can see that fans of very light Christian fiction might enjoy HOW DOLLY PARTON SAVED MY LIFE. Unfortunately, it just wasn't the right novel for me.
Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy of this novel.