Friday, August 27, 2010

The Improper Life of Bezilla Grove: Book Review

                                                             The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove
                                                              By Susan Gregg Gilmore

The story takes place in the south, Nashville Tenn during the 1960's. The story is about a little girl named Bezilla. This is a name handed down from generation to generation in the family. Bezilla has alot to grow in with the important name Bezilla Grove. She wants to use her proper name and doesn't want a nick name. Grove, is one of the most prominent families in Nashville.

She is expected to act like a Grove.  She is expected to learn to have the best etiquette. Attend the best schools, learn to dance with the prominent son's at the contillions, learn French, etc.

Her sister is a bit different and because of this Bezilla is always trying to protect her sister. Her mother is from a low class family. She escaped that life and marries a doctor. Something happened to her mother when she was a teens that has brought her mother to drink and become emotional disturbed.

Her mother was putting together with Mrs. Hunt, the most important social event of the season.. After it was over she was thanked.  Just as fast as the event was planned and finished was forgotten about.  Her mother became depressed and a alcoholic because she was not remembered for all the hard work to put it together. She was not asked to help in the next social event of the year

Her father, a pediatrician decides to send Bezilla's mother to a asylum because of her drinking and emotional instability. Her father is having a affair with one of the most prominent women in town, Mrs. Hunt. . Everyone seemed to know he is carrying on and having a affair. One day Bezilla's father comes home late at night. No one knows exactly what happens but Bezilla's father had a accident and he dies.

The story takes place during the 1960's. During the civil rights movement. Where there was a " negro bathroom and a white bathroom. Whites sat with whites. Blacks gave up sits to a white person. You called Afro Americans negroes during that time. Servants were treated poorly. Nathaniel and Mezilla eat in the kitchen.

 Nathaniel and Maizelle treated the children as their own children. Many a time both of them wanted to say something to Bezilla's parent's, but knew their place. This was at the time that " negroes still knew to keep their mouth quiet, there were lynchings of negroes. This was a dangerous time in the south.

Bezilla falls in love with Nathaniel's son, Samuel. Which is a no-no in the 1960's. still.   Class, color and status is very important in the south.

 I expected the story to have more story line during the era of the civil rights. What was going on during this time. Instead it was a little taste about the terrible times in the south. Perhaps because it was a little girls perspective. Bezilla did not comprehend the entire picture of the south, since she was still growing up.

Bezilla ready for college learned about feminism and women's rights. Bezilla's mother falls ill again and Bedzilla returns home. I am not going to tell you any further because of spoiler's.

My Thoughts: not enough was talked about the events of the 1960's growing up in the prospective of a teenager, Civil Rights Movement and Women's Movement. If she was going to college during that time there was alot of anti-establishment, anti conventional ideas, anti-government, anti war, draft dodgers, rallies, protests, hippies etc. ideas at the colleges and universities, and high school. 

This story was a twist of Gone With The Wind meets To Kill A Mockingbird that meets a beach read. The story was very light reading. It had some serious undertones but just a touch. The end of the story, which I am not going to tell you did not fit right to the story. I felt it should have been in a different place in the book not the end.

The story was the coming of age of a young girls prospective growing up in a very destructive family. This is not anything to laugh at, and make light of. That is most likely why I had such a problem with this book. I was growing up in the 60's and I may have a different prospective of the book that other bloggers that may be younger, and did not grow up during that time.

I will give it three stars. I have not read any novels from the south that was light reading before.  I think there was serious events that should have been address more seriously. Have a bit more depth to what was going on in the south.

4 comments:

Marie said...

interesting review. it's always tricky to try to write a light book about a serious topic like this.

Terry Kate said...

That is quite a name to be gifted with! I substitute teach and it is always a name adventure. I was doing first grade and called out the first name Wallace and had the tiniest little girl raise her hand.

Thanks you for the review the name of the book caught my eye. I enjoyed dropping in on your blog!
Terry Kate
Romance in the Backseat

Creations by Laurel-Rain Snow said...

Oh, I got very excited when I saw the beginning of the review, but, like you, I would have been disappointed that more wasn't made of the times and the setting.

I did get a familiar sense of TKAM, but that book, of course, went deeper.

Good review....

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