The 14th installment of the Miss Julia series offers the usual fare: some meddling, a light mystery and a reliable set of down-home Southerners.
Hazel Marie (the one-time mistress of Miss Julia’s dastardly late husband and mother of their love child, Lloyd) is now happily married to Mr. Pickens and tireless mother to their infant twins and the teenage Lloyd. When their cook, James, injures his ankle and arm, thankfully Miss Julia is there to come to the rescue. Miss Julia sets upon a scheme to teach the once-glamorous Hazel Marie to cook until James has recuperated. She marshals the ladies of Abbotsville to contribute their favorite recipes and a cooking demonstration. Into the crowded house is thrown the disreputable Brother Vern Puckett, Hazel Marie’s sanctimonious uncle, who intends to stay awhile. None of this—the ladies in and out with their cooking lessons, Uncle Vern’s selfishness, James’ ill-tempered whining—sits well with Mr. Pickens, which may be driving him into the arms of other women. At least that’s what Miss Julia thinks when she spots him in an empty parking lot with an unidentified blonde. Miss Julia knows how to stop a cheating husband—she arranges for Hazel Marie to have a full makeover at the beauty salon. Thankfully, Granny Wiggins has been added to the carnival atmosphere of the Pickens’ household to help take care of the twins. Adding to the chaos is the hot water Lloyd and James have gotten into, investing all of James’ money in an Internet scam. It doesn’t seem possible Miss Julia can fix all these problems, but she certainly tries.
Ross’ tale seems to belong to another age: one in which women need to beautify to hold onto their cheating husbands and a teenager isn’t the most Internet-savvy person in town.