Five high-school friends from Jackson, Miss., forge an enduring bond, based on their mutual belief in each other’s fabulousness.
As an antidote to the snooty clubs that won’t have them, offbeat teens Jill, Mary Bennett, Patsy, Tammy and Gerald come together to form the Sweet Potato Queens, founded on the principle “If it ain’t fun, we ain’t doing it.” Sharing humor and outsider status in school, the pals regularly get together to eat lots of pork and to gossip, and each year they dress in red wigs and sequin gowns and attend the St. Patrick’s Day parade. The friends remain close long after graduation, despite taking divergent paths. Rich-girl-with-a-secret Mary Bennett heads off to soap-star fame in Hollywood; Gerald (to no one’s surprise) comes out in San Francisco; and beautiful aspiring singer Tammy becomes a local TV weathergirl who drowns her numerous insecurities in a string of extramarital affairs. Midwestern-transplant Patsy moves to Atlanta and becomes a mom, while Boss Queen Jill muddles through a dull job and even duller love life. Tall and athletic, she eventually hits her stride, finding satisfaction as an in-demand personal trainer and a popular local columnist. Meanwhile, the queens experience the requisite laughter, tears and general messiness of life, all culminating in a last-minute London intervention to save Tammy from her latest bad decision. This fictionalized account of the origins of Browne’s real-life SPQs (The Sweet Potato Queens’ Wedding Planner and Divorce Guide, not reviewed, etc.) has a slapdash feel. Co-written with Gillespie, author of the Bottom Dollar Girls series, it reads less like a novel than what it is: the latest extension of this successful southern-fried brand.
Breezy, but likely to move only existing fans of the Sweet Potato Queens.