American Pie

Michael Lee West, Author HarperCollins Publishers $24 (0p) ISBN 978-0-06-018357-8
Freddie, Eleanor and Jo-Nell McBroom may be the most satisfyingly trio of off-center Southern sisters since Crimes of the Heart, and West (Crazy Ladies) delivers a bawdy and poignant novel to match. When marine biologist Freddie McBroom fled Tallulah, Tenn. (after an unfortunate incident involving a stolen heart and gallbladder that got her booted from med school), she swore she'd never return. But now her rowdy sister Jo-Nell, after drinking just a bit too much tequila at the Starlight Lounge, has been hit by the midnight train. Reluctantly, Freddie decides to return home, leaving her husband, Sam, and his blonde, bikini-wearing assistant at their research site in Baja California. Ridiculous disasters have stalked the family for a while now. Grandmother Minerva Pray buried two young children before her husband was killed by lightning. The McBroom girls' mother was found hanging from the Venetian blinds--by eldest sister Eleanor, who subsequently became a semi-agoraphobic and now spends much of her time updating a scrapbook of grisly accidents and murders. Jo-Nell's first husband died in an unfortunate watermelon accident. A bittersweet reunion allows all three sisters to have a second look and a second chance at life: Freddie has a fling with her former fiance; Jo-Nell contemplates leaving both Tallulah and her reputation behind; and Eleanor confronts her deepest fears. If these gals are a bit too resilient, if no tragedy or mishap sticks too long to their Teflon-coated spirits, that doesn't diminish the charm as West travels effortlessly between the deep-fried South and the arugula-strewn Pacific coast, giving full voice to the McBrooms as they try to sweep their troubles away. $35,000 ad/promo; author tour; U.K., translation, first serial and dramatic rights: Ellen Levine Agency. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/02/1996
Release date: 09/01/1996
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