“Pushing aside the hangers in the closet, I pulled out by newest and best dress that I’d worn to church on Easter and only a couple of times since then. I was real proud of it because it was a designer dress from the Kathie Lee Collection at Walmart’s and looked like a million dollars on me. If I’d had the chance, I’d have bought something new for my wedding, but at least this was mostly white. A quality 100 percent rayon classic white dress with black polka dots. Signifying, I guess, my marital experiences of the past.”
Some people may recognize the author of Etta Mae's Worst Bad Luck Day, as well as the small town of Abbottsville, North Carolina, where the book takes place. Ann B. Ross is the writer of the well-known Miss Julia series. But this book follows a different character: Etta Mae Wiggins, who appears in the Miss Julia books but has never had a story of her own before.
Etta Mae is a tough but good-hearted young woman who, tired of being written off as trailer trash, has come up with a plan to finally get ahead in life. That plan is to tie the knot with the elderly and well-off Mr. Howard Connard, for whom she works as a home nurse. Surely, she believes, Etta Mae Connard will command the respect Etta Mae Wiggins never could, and in the process she can brighten an old man's life, however much he has left. As Etta Mae anticipates the approaching wedding— velvet-clad bridesmaids, baby’s breath bouquets and all—things are complicated by the appearance of two unwelcome faces: Mr. Connard’s ill-tempered son and one of Etta Mae’s deadbeat ex-husbands.
Etta Mae is a charming heroine, immediately sympathetic for her pragmatism, kindness, and Southern style. Despite the book’s humor, this makes for some profoundly sad moments when we see Etta Mae crushed by the shallow judgments of her neighbors. The story has some elements of a mystery—a crime, an unknown perpetrator-- but doesn’t have a lot of tension or gravity; instead, what makes it an easy and enjoyable read is how Etta Mae deals with the many roadblocks on her path to a better life.
If you would like a copy of this book, leave a comment with an email address and I will choose a random winner in a few days.