Monday, July 11, 2011
Flowers For Elvis
Bell Bridge Books
Amazon Blurb -
Flowers For Elvis is quirky Southern fiction with a literary edge, surprising humor and an uplifting spirit. In 1956, Olivia and her twin sister are born to a nun an old auto parts store turned convent in rural Mississippi. Little Olivia doesn't survive the day, but her spunky spirit hangs around and takes on the role of ethereal watchdog over her twin. When the Reverend Mother-and holy guilt-convince the nun's sister (a young pregnant newlywed) to secretly raise the baby as the twin of her own soon-to-be-born child, Olivia realizes the urgency of her presence and support. Not only is her aunt a fanatical Elvis fan, she's a renegade Southern belle, bent on self-indulgence and desperate to safeguard her multitude of sins. Without revealing which girl is her twin until the end, Olivia takes the reader on a flower strewn tour of misguided love and maternal betrayal which culminates at Elvis' funeral, where they finally discover the truth of their parentage and unravel the generations of secrets that shadowed their lives.
During a rainy night in rural Mississippi, in the cold, a nun has given birth to twins. One is still born the other lives. Mother Superior takes the babies, has the nuns bury the other baby girl in the yard of the convent which was once an auto parts shop. The year is 1958 and the twins were bi-racial. Mother names the baby that has passed Olivia and guiltily feels relief that she has died due to her obvious mixed heritage. Being in the south during this time would have been way to hard for that child in her mind. What does Mother do? She has the nun's sister who is also pregnant and due any day come down to the convent and tells her she is going to adopt this baby and raise her as her own. Genevieve was a wild child and wonders what the Mother wants from her and can't believe this is her request. With a pocket full of confessions scribbled to her idol Elvis, is shocked by Mother's desire. Genevieve has no clue that this baby is really her niece, she thinks her sister is away on some mission with the nuns. Filled with guilt for all her "sins" Genevieve stays at the convent and gives birth three days later, and then comes home with both girls to be raised as twins. Mother never tells the baby's real mother that one twin died, only that both were adopted by a wonderful family.
The sweet twist? Olivia's spirit leaves her tiny body, and she follows the "twins" and their mother/aunt throughout their life sort of as a guardian angel. Poor Olivia tries to steer them, the girls somewhat sense her presence, but she can't do all that much to help them.
You soon learn that these girls are funny and mischievous, being taught by a woman/child who they call Moody instead of mom because of all her crazy mood swings. Their father has no control over them nor does their mother who really doesn't give them much guidance at all. They go on Elvis stalkings with Moody, help with the family floral business meet their Aunt Willard for the first time, suffer the disappearance of their father, and grow into pre-teens. This is where the trouble really takes shape. Poor Olivia is usually helpless to stop what takes place and realizes that sometimes bad has to happen in life. While their Mother pines for her long lost love, the girls fend for themselves.
As they grow, you never know which girl belongs to which sister, all the way to the very end. You keep guessing, and the roller coaster of who their parents are becomes quite a ride worth getting on.
Tragic, funny, and sometimes very aggravating, this was a really great story. I can't give it 5 cannolis for two reasons, I hate infidelity, and there was blatant child molestation taking place here with no comeuppance to the perpetrator imho, some who have read it will probably disagree, but it was not to my satisfaction. I do recommend this book.
4 1/2 cannolis