More helpings of southern-fried sisterhood.
Actually, in this third set of snapshots from the lives of four Louisiana friends (Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, 1997, etc.), the men get the final epiphanies. But since these consist of politically correct nostrums like “masculine love . . . is not about power. It is not about judging. It is about a quiet calm, a quiet love,” it’s clear that girls still rule. For those who have been panting to know how the Ya-Yas first got together, Wells takes us back to 1930, when Teensy Whitman shoves a pecan up her nose and, rushed to the doctor’s office where Viviane Abbott sits with an earache, intoxicates Vivi with “a magical wink.” Bohemian Caro and good-girl Necie round out the quartet before the year is up, and the narrative then bounces around to show them as unconventional young mothers during the 1960s and cool grannies in 1994. That’s the year when Edythe Spevey, the mentally disturbed daughter of a jealous farm girl who always hated the wealthy, flamboyant Ya-Yas, snatches Necie’s three-year-old granddaughter, Rosalyn, from a video store. This scary development assorts very oddly with earlier feel-good episodes that show the Ya-Yas facing down such all-too-easy targets as Necie’s narrow-minded husband George (he doesn’t like the Beatles!) and a censorious nun (she’s shocked when Vivi’s six-year-old son brings in his mother’s garter belt for Show and Tell!). Not even a kidnapping can bring real depth to the kind of characters who call their kids “the Petites Ya-Yas” and their grandchildren “the Très Petites.” Fortunately, since Wells inclines to southern cutesiness rather than southern gothic, little Rosalyn is rescued in short order—and in plenty of time for the annual Ya-Ya Christmas party. Wells closes with a chaotic pageant that’s meant to be adorable and the stunning revelation that Judge George Ogden is actually not such a bad guy.
Another divine jacket image will undoubtedly move books off the shelves, but this is pretty thin stuff for all but the most fanatical Ya-Ya devotees.