Georgia Bottoms is a delicious, frothy read. Mark Childress shows brilliance in developing Georgia’s long-suffering debutante character, her no-account brother, and a mother with dementia. Childress, born in Monroeville, Alabama, depicts the fictional southern town of Six Points with wit and a sharp edge only a true insider can wield.
Yes, there’s the initial shock value:
– Georgia’s “creative” means of supporting her family
– A cast of unhappily married men who contribute to her cause
– Plenty of colorful language
– And observations aplenty regarding race relations, gender, tradition, and wealth
As I reminded my husband … it’s FICTION! (Love you, honey xoxo)
The story begins with Georgia revealing that the Bottoms family is destitute. Georgia alone is left to uphold the family’s genteel image and pristine reputation. On the exterior, she is a perfect daughter. Georgia attends church every Sunday, sells handmade quilts for a modest profit, and is known for hosting lovely parties.
But, Childress, being a master of entertainment, throws challenges at Georgia with the accuracy of a circus knife thrower. Behind her perfectly groomed exterior, Georgia keeps an obsessive work schedule to rival Oprah’s, obsesses about finances, and approaches life with a determination worthy of a true steel magnolia.
Georgia’s constantly evolving schemes and cover-ups are dizzying. You know for certain she’s no fool when she manages to avoid public embarrassment by fainting in the aisle during Sunday church service. The day a man from her past shows up in Six Points (and it’s not who you think!) Georgia’s true guilt, anxiety, and conflicted nature are revealed to the reader.
Only when Georgia falls for a new suitor, and allows her fiercely protected emotions to get in the way, do the hairline cracks in her grand plan really start to show.
If you liked Crazy in Alabama, Georgia Bottoms will surely satisfy. Georgia Bottoms boasts plenty of secrets, a suspicious trail of money, and a cast of characters who all appear to be something they’re not.
Mark Childress handles his heroine with humor, but, in turn, dares the reader to think beyond social norms and stereotypes. How far should a person go to save face? What price should one pay to maintain one’s status in a community? Should a person who’s built a lovely façade to help her family lose everything when the walls crumble? Is it ever too late for redemption? Finally, Childress suggests this: while it’s necessary to make amends with people we’ve hurt, it is equally important to forgive ourselves.
Georgia Bottoms is a story about discovering one’s true self, deciding to live a life that’s honest and true. It’s a novel that explores how endings can sometimes lead to new beginnings. Check out more on Mark Childress at www.crazyinalabama.com
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (February 23, 2011)
Image Credit: www.crazyinalabama.com