WHEN SOUTHERN GIRLS GROW OLD by Elizabeth Doak Sherman


: A Homecoming
Email this review


Three strong Southern female cousins learn that just because we grow old, we don’t have to stop growing.

Mavis Horton thought part of her life was over when she retired. But when her girlhood friend Annabelle shows up, the onetime bookkeeper finds her life–and her expectations–turned upside down. First, Annabelle convinces the staid Alabamian to trade in her equally staid Camry for a new red Volkswagen Beetle. Then she starts on her hair and figure. Before Mavis knows it, she’s getting some payback on her former employer and longtime lover, in the form of a jewelry heist. Meanwhile, Sammie Jo Horton hits the wall at her 50th anniversary party. That’s when she decides to change her name to Samantha, leaving behind that “tacky ole, country-sounding nickname.” Next, it’s the old furniture that has to go, all of it, and while her husband is on a golf trip, she empties their entire house on the front lawn before taking off herself. For Elmira Horton, the catalyst is an itinerant roofer who moves in to fix a hole in her roof and manages to replace Elvis, just briefly, in her heart. By the time the three Horton cousins reunite, they’ve all confronted their demons and moved on in this engaging and optimistic read. Together, these three related stories create the kind of leisurely, conversational novel that has fallen out of favor in recent years. It’s a pity, because Sherman has a good ear for details and for the regionalisms that distinguish these Alabama natives–it’s obvious in characters remarking over a giant Grand Canyon “thousand piecer” jigsaw puzzle or folksy wisdom like, “grief is a lot like the earache.” Although this lengthy novel could have been trimmed, it would be a pity to lose such specifics, or the quirky characters who treat each other with a heaping handful of affection.

Detailed interconnected stories focus on the redeeming qualities of lifelong relationships.

Pub Date: Sept. 29th, 2008
ISBN: 978-1-4392-0987-5
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online: