After a personal tragedy, Chicago writer Ava Dabrowski quits her job to spend the summer in Woodburn, Tennessee, at the invitation of her old college friend Will Fraser and his two great-aunts, Josephine and Fanny Woodburn. Her charming hosts offer Ava a chance to relax at their idyllic ancestral estate, Woodburn Hall, while working on her first novel.Random House | May 2011 | Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
But Woodburn is anything but quiet: Ancient feuds lurk just beneath its placid surface, and modern-day rivalries emerge as Ava finds herself caught between the competing attentions of Will and his black-sheep cousin Jake. Fascinated by the family’s impressive history—their imposing house filled with treasures, and their mingling with literary lions Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and Faulkner—Ava stumbles onto rumors about the darker side of the Woodburns’ legacy. Putting aside her planned novel, she turns her creative attentions to the eccentric and tragic clan, a family with more skeletons (and ghosts) in their closets than anyone could possibly imagine. As Ava struggles to write the true story of the Woodburns, she finds herself tangled in the tragic history of a mysterious Southern family whose secrets mirror her own.
Mel, Sara, Annie, and Lola have traveled diverse paths since their years together at a small Southern liberal arts college during the early 1980s. Mel, a mystery writer living in New York, is grappling with the aftermath of two failed marriages and a stalled writing career. Sara, an Atlanta attorney, struggles with her own slowly unraveling marriage. Annie, a successful Nashville businesswoman married to her childhood sweetheart, can’t seem to leave behind the regrets of her youth. And sweet-tempered Lola whiles away her hours—and her husband’s money—on little pills that keep her happy.Random House | June 2010 | Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
Now the friends, all in their forties, converge on Lola’s lavish North Carolina beach house in an attempt to relive the carefree days of their college years. But as the week wears on and each woman’s hidden story is gradually revealed, these four friends learn that they must inevitably confront their shared past, and a secret that threatens to change their bond, and their lives, forever.
Cotillion: A formal gathering of bright young women on the verge of entering adulthood, the society pages, and prospective high-tax-bracket marriages. Think a Civil War reenactment with crisp, clean white dresses.Random House | May 2008 | Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
Catfight: An impromptu gathering of not-so-young women on the verge of losing their cool. Think a cotillion with hair-pulling.
It’s been more than a year since the Kudzu Debutantes exacted sweet, merciless revenge on their cheating husbands, but the repercussions are still palpable throughout Ithaca, Georgia: Nita is anxiously preparing herself for marriage to Jimmy Lee, a man thirteen years her junior; Lavonne, despite having dropped her husband–and eighty pounds–and launched her own business, longs for love; and while Eadie remains married to Trevor, she feels more neglected than ever.
So the occasion of Nita’s second wedding seems like just the ticket to cheer up the disconsolate Debs. But they’ve made a formidable enemy in Virginia Broadwell, first lady of Ithaca and the bride’s ex-mother-in-law. Hell-bent on vengeance and determined to restore old-school social mores, Virginia hatches a plan so devious it makes her pedicured toes curl in anticipation.
Soon enough, the women are knocked for a loop–but you can keep a Kudzu Debutante down for only so long. The one thing stronger than Virginia’s wrath is the bond between the three friends, who soon learn that one of Virginia’s Jimmy Choos contains an irresistible Achilles’ heel. With spirit, wit, and down-home gumption, the take-no-prisoners trio decides it’s time to ditch their cotillion manners as they rally to save Nita’s marriage, Lavone’s business, Eadie’s sanity . . . and the honor of Kudzu Debs the world over.
Packed with authentic Southern flavor and characters as colorful as an azalea in full bloom, The Secret Lives of the Kudzu Debutantes serves up stinging one-liners and earthy wisdom in equal measure.
kud • zu \kud-zü\ n: a ubiquitous vine/weed found in Southern climes that, left uncontrolled, will grow over any fixed object in its path, including trees, power lines, and the entire state of Georgia.Random House | June 2007 | Purchase at IndieBound, Amazon, The Book Depository
deb•u•tante \de-byu-tänt\ n: a young woman making a debut into society, easily spotted in white dress and pearl necklace. Common names include Muffy, Bootsy, and Bunny.
Eadie Boone is no shrinking violet. An artist and former beauty queen who married into one of the first families of Ithaca, Georgia, she tackles everything with gusto and flair. But tailing her wayward husband proves to be, well, an exasperating chore. If only Trevor would just see the light, dump his twenty-two-year-old hussy, and return home, Eadie’s creative energy could be put to better use. Now all she has to do is convince him.
Nita Broadwell, a good Southern girl from a good Southern family, is jolted out of complacency when she discovers condoms in her husband’s shirt pocket (“Maybe he’d found them on the ground and picked them up”). Between clinging to denial and dodging her overbearing mother-in-law, Nita is also trying to break her addiction to steamy bodice-ripper novels. Only now it appears she’s authoring her own real-life romance tale with a hunky handyman thirteen years her junior.
Lavonne Zibolsky–a transplanted Yankee, bless her heart–is saddled with planning the annual Broadwell & Boone law firm party. That and her lackluster marriage have her seeking solace in the contents of her refrigerator. If she could just put down the Rocky Road ice cream and peach pie, she might get around to finding a caterer, dropping sixty pounds, and figuring out how to fall in love with her husband again. Not necessarily in that order.
Bonded by years of friendship, these three women discover what else they have in common: lying, cheating spouses. So they heed their collective betrayals as a wake-up call and band together to exact sweet revenge. The take-charge trio will see to it that the punishment is just, exquisitely humiliating, and downright hilarious.
Cathy Holton’s debut novel is a delicious yarn of friendship and marriage, secrets and retribution, and how nothing stays hidden for long. Against a Southern backdrop of gentility and decorum, Revenge of the Kudzu Debutantes dares to abandon Junior League social graces in ways that would make even Scarlett O’Hara blush.
Tell the truth, y'all... Don't these books look like fab reading?