Friday, April 22, 2011
Miss Hildreth Wore Brown
Author's Summary. While Olivia deBelle Byrd was repeating one of her many Southern stories for the umpteenth time, her long-suffering husband looked at her with glazed over eyes and said, “Why don’t you write this stuff down?” Thus was born Miss Hildreth Wore Brown—Anecdotes of a Southern Belle. If the genesis for a book is to shut your wife up, I guess that’s as good as any.
On top of that, Olivia’s mother had burdened her with one of those Southern middle names kids love to make fun. To see “deBelle” printed on the front of a book seemed vindication for all the childhood teasing.
With storytelling written in the finest Southern tradition from the soap operas of Chandler Street in the quaint town of Gainesville, Georgia, to a country store on the Alabama state line, Olivia deBelle Byrd delves with wit and amusement into the world of the Deep South with all its unique idiosyncrasies and colloquialisms.
The characters who dance across the pages range from Great-Aunt Lottie Mae, who is as “old-fashioned and opinionated as the day is long,” to Mrs. Brewton, who calls everyone “dahling” whether they are darling or not, to Isabella with her penchant for mint juleps and drama.
Humorous anecdotes from a Christmas coffee, where one can converse with a lady who has Christmas trees with blinking lights dangling from her ears, to Sunday church, where a mink coat is mistaken for possum, will delight Southerners and baffle many a non-Southerner. There is the proverbial Southern beauty pageant, where even a six-month-old can win a tiara, to a funeral faux pas of the iron clad Southern rule—one never wears white after Labor Day and, dear gussy, most certainly not to a funeral.
Miss Hildreth Wore Brown—Anecdotes of a Southern Belle is guaranteed to provide an afternoon of laugh-out-loud reading and hilarious enjoyment.
Review. Fitzgerald: “The rich are different than you and me.”
Hemingway: “Yes, they have more money.”
Proving that Southerners are both different than and the same as you and me, is Miss Hildreth Wore Brown by Olivia deBelle Byrd. The slim tome is a collection of humorous anecdotes from a born and bred Southern belle.
Like a cultural anthropologist I learned, among other things: 1) one of life’s greatest tragedies is to be lain to rest in the wrong color outfit; 2) thank you notes should be sent out before the actual event; 3) it is never too hot for coffee or too early for chocolate; and 4) sooner or later every woman becomes your aunt. After reading Miss Hildreth Wore Brown, I now feel ready to make my Southern debutante debut, save for the fact that I am almost three decades too old!
On the other hand, some of the stories were jarringly familiar. Directionally challenged? – yup that’s me. Hair issues? -- me again! Love New York? -- Guilty as charged.
Miss Hildreth Wore Brown is an amusing collection of short stories that can easily be devoured in one reading.
Publisher: Morgan James Publishing (May 1, 2010), 176 pages.
Review copy provided courtesy of the author.