BINGO by Rita Mae Brown


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Back to Runnymede, the town straddling the Mason-Dixon line where Six of One (1978) was set: the zany Hunsenmeir sisters (Julia and Louise, now well into their 80s) continue their slapstick rivalry. Nickel, Julia's adopted daughter, is an editor on the cute local paper, the Clarion, and one of two openly gay people in insular Runnymede (the other being Mr. Pierre, who runs the Curl 'n Twirl beauty salon). Life is going on as always, centered around the Friday night bingo game, when several things happen: Ed Tutweiler Walters, a 70-ish dandy, arrives in town and electrifies the Hunsenmeir sisters, who begin to compete frantically for his favor (Louise, for instance, tries to steal a bingo jackpot to subsidize a face lift). Meanwhile, Nickel, despite preferring women, has an affair with Jackson, her best friend's husband. She resolves to break it off, but finds herself pregnant. And the dear old Clarion is up for sale--forcing Nickel to try, unsuccessfully, to buy the paper to protect it from corporate takeover. Ultimately, everyone cheerfully joins forces for an upbeat ending: Mr. Pierre marries Nickel to give the baby a father of record; Jackson's wife forgives Nickel; Charles, the former owner of the Clarion, decides he hates retirement and comes back to bankroll a new paper start-up. And while Julia gets Ed, Louisa gets famous, thanks to a wildly successful column she starts in the new paper, the Mercury. A good-natured string of down-home vignettes, a group portrait of idiosyncratic and sunny souls who shrug off adversity without slowing down. And while Brown's feminist tenets are always cheerfully in evidence, this remains frothy entertainment--with an unreal-but-who-cares? sit-corn sensibility.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1988
ISBN: 0553380400
Publisher: Bantam