Monday, August 29, 2011

SPL Shelf Life [adult]

This review appeared in the Stratford Gazette on August 25th. Written by Robyn Godfrey, Librarian.

The Darling Dahlias and the Naked Ladies by Susan Wittig Albert

The ladies of the Darling Dahlias gardening club have another mystery on their hands. Their small Alabama town is atwitter with the arrival of a niece of the elderly hermit lady, Miss Hamer. The newcomer, Nona Jean Jamieson, stands out like a sore green thumb in her vibrant scarlet dresses and stiletto heels, but Verna Tidwell immediately recognizes her. She is Miss Lorelei LaMotte, who with her partner Lily Lake are known as Naughty and Nice, a burlesque entertainment team from Chicago. But Miss LaMotte vehemently denies her past, and the Dahlias begin to have their doubts that she is who she claims. The eccentric Miss Hamer was never known to have a niece after all – although she does have a ghost or two in her own closet, as Bessie Bloodworth comes to find out. Along with these intriguing interludes, the Dahlias have their own depression-era worries: Myrna May Mosswell’s friend Violet has left Darling to tend her sickly sister and newborn niece; Bessie’s long-buried past begins to haunt her, and Lizzie Lacy’s hard-won independence from her domineering mother may come to a crashing end when the bank threatens to foreclose on her mother’s home – forcing her to move in with Lizzie. With the Dahlias up to their corn-ears in their own woes, they nevertheless pull together and find a way to cope and survive – and help bring down a certain Chicago gangster almost by accident. Travel back to the 1930’s, to the tight-knit community of Darling Alabama for the latest Dahlia adventure, and pick up a few vintage recipes while you’re there. As for the Naked Ladies? They are a late-blooming lily prevalent in the mid to southern States, lycoris squamigera!

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