Southern Belles and Books

I’m afraid I’ve gone MIA these past few weeks. Miss Darcy’s Library hasn’t been far from my thoughts, and I do have a whole list of reviews on the way, but I just can’t seem to finish one.

In the meantime, I’m busy planning my first trip back to the States since 2002 and am very excited! I’ll be going during the Easter holidays and will be staying with my best friend, in Washington D.C. We’re planning to get up to all sorts of wild shenanigans, but one of the things I’m looking forward to most is taking a short road trip down south, to see Charleston and Savannnah. I’ve been doing some research and I almost wish we were just doing that! It all sounds utterly magical: Spanish moss and honey-glazed ham; plantation houses and Civil War battlefields; Richmond, the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the coastline of the Carolinas… We’ll never cram it all into four days, and it breaks my heart to have to choose!

Of course, I’ve already bought a guide book. But my friend and I would also like to read a couple of novels before we head off, and this is where I’ve stalled. For apart from Gone With the Wind, the only other titles I can think of are signed Sarah Addison Allen. And while I loved Garden Spells and found her subsequent novels very enjoyable, not to mention hugely atmospheric, they’re not exactly literature. Does anyone have anything else to recommend? (I have a nasty feeling you’re all going to say I have to read Faulkner, but please don’t! I just know he’s going to be dark and depressing!). I’d love to compile a really long Southern-themed reading-list to dip in and out of in the coming weeks, as I gear up for my big trip, so please be generous with your suggestions!

© Florence Berlioz 2013

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About Miss Darcy's Library

I love books - buying books, reading books, discussing books, and generally admiring them from all angles (except the e-book). I also love tea, roses, and my dogs, and seldom pass up an opportunity to slip them into the conversation.
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23 Responses to Southern Belles and Books

  1. bleuroses says:

    This isn’t literature either but it’s a great read – ‘The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood’ – a perfect page-turner for your plane ride! As for your trip to Savannah, I recommend ‘Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil’. A visit to Johnny Mercer’s house and the Bonaventure Cemetery will be a must after reading it! Have a wonderful time!

  2. vintagefrenchchic says:

    If you want some heavy, detailed novels about the South around the time of the Civil War, try taking on John Jakes’ “North and South” and “Love and War”. I read them years and years ago and really enjoyed them (keep in mind I was around 17 or 18). My husband and I just finished the 1980s mini-series based on the novels. It was very 80s and mildly soap opera-ish, but gives a good timeline on the events leading up to and including the Civil War. “Gone With the Wind” is one of my favorites. : )

    • Thank you for the recommendations: I’ll be sure to look into the John Jakes books!
      Gone With the Wind is one of my favourites too – I’ve loved it ever since my mother read it aloud to me when I was fifteen.

  3. eatierney says:

    Definitely not ‘literature’ but you might enjoy Laura Childs’ Tea Shop Mysteries. They are all set in Charleston and are very enjoyable if you like mysteries. You will love Charleston – it is just lovely!!

  4. limr says:

    Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt is an absolute must! It’s non-fiction, which means it’s stranger than anything fiction could present 🙂 I’ve been past Savannah and on the outskirts several times, but after reading that book, I’d love to have a proper visit.
    http://www.amazon.com/Midnight-Garden-Good-Evil-Berendt/dp/0679751521

    I don’t know if the movie is worth it or lives up to the book, but what might make it interesting is that many of the real people in the book make appearances in the movie, including probably the most colorful character, Lady Chablis (the drag queen).

    • Ok you’ve convinced me: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil sounds fantastic! I think I’ll suggest my friend and I do a readalong, so that we can compare notes – more fun that way. I love the photograph of the Bird Girl statue too!

  5. No idea if it would be literary fiction but something you might want to check out – The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. Oh also, The Help by Kathryn Stockett. Umm and what about the classic To Kill a Mockingbird?

    Oh and your trip sounds just wonderful! Made me want to plan just such a trip too! 🙂

    • Isn’t it such fun planning a trip like that? Half the pleasure is in the anticipation…
      Thanks so much for your recommendations – I’m particularly taken with The Secret Life of Bees and have put it down on my TBR list.

  6. I am most envious of your up coming road trip. It’s on my bucket list. http://marinachetner.com/2013/01/27/fall-in-charleston-sc-road-trip-series/ has just done a great post about Charleston and NOLA too.
    Enjoy.

  7. Jo says:

    Oh I am so envious, that sound like a dream trip. I often find that fitting in eveything you want to do when you are on ‘sensory overload’ can be exhausting. I hope the reading suggestions keep coming too. Have a lovely time.

    • Thank you Jo! I agree with you about the risk of ‘sensory overload’ – I don’t want to spend my trip rushing around and getting so tired I can’t enjoy anything.
      There have been some lovely book recommendations already, and I also hope people keep coming up with more! It’s so much fun!

  8. Eminenza says:

    Not that i have read it, but apparently ‘Their eyes were watching God’ is another good one. Tennessee Williams also has some excellent plays that take place in the South! I’ve only seen the movies so don’t judge.

    On a totally different topic if you want to read a good book that takes place in Washington DC (NO not Dan Brown’s Lost Symbol), I think that you would thoroughly enjoy ‘Fellow Travelers’ by Thomas Mallon.

    • Humph. You know better than to come and speak to me of Dan Brown on this blog (or anywhere, for that matter!) :p
      Tennessee Williams is an excellent idea – thanks! I’ve never read anything by him – or seen the movies (don’t judge!) so now might be a good time. I will look into the Thomas Mallon book too. I’m glad you finally commented! xx

  9. Charleston is one of my favorite cities, so I’ve been wracking my brain to think of books that are set there. Men and Dogs by Katie Crouch is one that I enjoyed. It’s contemporary fiction with a lot of family drama, and not as chick-lit-y as the cover might suggest. Pat Conroy’s South of Broad is another one, although I thought that was just an okay read. And like everyone else has said, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is a must for Savannah.

  10. I read ‘Their Eyes were Watching God’ and found it riveting but totally unlike anything else I have ever read. It’s difficult to give a brief resume, but I did a post last year at http://goo.gl/lpp46 .
    The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood was great, but I didn’t like the follow-ups.

  11. Karen White has a few books set in Charleston that I liked; Tradd Street, I believe. William C. Harris, Jr. writes about real happenings in Savannah that read like a novel. For something lighthearted and hilarious, try the Miss Julia books by Ann B. Ross. She’s Southern to the core.

  12. Pingback: Did you know…there were pirates in Savannah? | Miss Darcy's Library

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