ANNA L.M.N.O. by Sarah Glasscock


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This lightweight first novel about a beauty parlor and its would-be owner in West Texas is full of sassy dialogue and Peyton Place shenanigans. It's like Chinese food, though: you're hungry again fifteen minutes later. The novel is a paean to small-town bitchiness. Anna works for Mary Frances, but plans to buy the shop from her when Mary Frances retires to a houseboat. Meanwhile, the beauty parlor is a center of gossip, and Anna serves as friend, enemy, or confessor to nearly everyone in town, especially to the other beauticians. They in turn protect her from her two ex-husbands, one who physically abused her and another who married her only to get his green card. Lots of pithy folk philosophy is offered, and you'll learn as much about the beauty parlor business as you've ever wanted to know. Client Grace Nettinger commits suicide, beautician Jo contracts lung cancer and dies: Anna gets involved with their husbands and children, all of whom want something from her, and finally comes to own the shop after a series of reversals, near-misses, and tantrums. Anna, that is, is the lightning rod of her messy community of colleagues, friends, exlover or would-be lovers. Everyone sort of ends up all right, even though all kinds of skeletons pop out of closets, including suspect land deals and illegal smuggling of aliens. Anna gets to know herself a little better, realizes she can't change lives with a new cut or a perm, and takes L.M.N.O as the name of her shop; the initials stand for her maiden name and the men, past and present, in her life. As engaging as Anna's small world can be, the novel--as it tries to be both campy and heartfelt--is a snapshot that is out of focus: a book that has its attractions and a great deal of energy, but one which is finally neither here nor there.

Pub Date: Oct. 31st, 1988
Publisher: Random House