Monday, September 6, 2010

Jen's Book Review: The Crowning Glory of Calla Lilly Ponder by Rebecca Wells


In the small Louisiana town of La Luna, Calla Lily Ponder lives a unique life. Her mother, whom she calls M'Dear, believes in the Moon Lady and tells Calla to always look to her for guidance, comfort, and protection. M'Dear runs the Crowning Glory salon on their front porch during the day, and in the evening M'Dear and Calla's father run a dance studio. M'Dear teaches Calla about the art of styling hair, which involves not only fixing hair but also healing through the hands. Calla quickly learns this is her calling. Her childhood takes a dramatic turn when her beloved M'Dear develops breast cancer. Calla finds comfort in her first love Tuck, the grandson of a neighbor. When he leaves for college, Calla never hears from him again. Left brokenhearted, she decides to move to New Orleans to attend the L'Academie de Beaute de Crescent where she fulfills her destiny of styling and healing. Calla finds love again, but after more heartbreak, she moves back to La Luna to carry out her dream of reopening M'Dear's salon. When Tuck's grandfather dies, Tuck comes back to La Luna for the first time since he left for college, and Calla must face her past and make decisions for the future.

Rebecca Wells is the author of the brilliant Ya Ya series. I was so excited when I happened upon this book at the library. It is unrelated to that series but just as stinking good. If there is a theme for this book, it is forgiveness and second chances. Several times Calla experiences heartbreak and must forgive, whether it is related to a friendship or a significant other. I think anyone can relate to that subject.

I love the southern setting of Wells' books with the descriptions of the weather, the food, and the landscape. It made me want to pack up and head to south Louisiana. Don't be surprised if while reading this book you have the urge to make gumbo or crawfish etouffe! Along with the setting and scenery, Wells does an excellent job of developing her characters. M'Dear has a contagious eccentricity. Calla is so likable that you just want her to be your best friend. Her good friend Sukey is crazy, carefree, and reckless. Tuck will make you think back to your first love and give you that warm fuzzy feeling.

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