QUEEN BEE OF MIMOSA BRANCH

Haywood Smith, Author . St. Martin's $24.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-312-30056-2

"The only degree I have is a Ph.D. in Southern Bitch," proclaims Linwood Breedlove Scott, the feisty Prozac-popping, menopausal heroine of Smith's hardcover debut. When her husband drains their bank account and leaves her for a stripper, Lin retreats to her hometown of Mimosa Branch, Ga., to lick her wounds. Facing her conservative, gossipy Southern town as a newly divorced woman is no easy task, however, especially when her best friend lives miles away, her house has become a menagerie haunted by her Alzheimer's-stricken Uncle Bedford, and her boss at the drugstore is an uptight Northerner, Grant Owens, whom she finds disturbingly attractive. Determined to leave her meek hausfrau self behind and start taking charge of her life, she plots to seduce Grant and joins forces with an ex-con preacher with the proverbial heart of gold to oust the corrupt mayor from office. The story covers familiar territory, but Lin's efforts to make a home for herself in a now-unfamiliar town, to reconnect with her old friends and mend rifts with her family are well-observed and bittersweet. Snapshots of Southern living will charm the hardest-hearted Yankee; the purple bathtub full of pink begonias on Lin's mother's porch is irresistible. The inspirational tone becomes rather cloying as the happy-ever-after ending approaches, but strong characters and Smith's irrepressible wit anchor the fluff. Featured alternate selection of the Literary Guild, Doubleday Book Club, Rhapsody and BOMC; regional author tour. (Oct. 1)

Reviewed on: 09/02/2002
Release date: 10/01/2002
Genre: Fiction
Hardcover - 978-1-57490-504-5
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-7927-3045-3
Mass Market Paperbound - 416 pages - 978-0-312-98939-2
Compact Disc - 978-0-7927-3046-0
Ebook - 352 pages - 978-1-4299-8947-3
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