The Rock Orchard by Paula Wall was originally published in 2005. My hardcover copy is 244 pages long. This was Wall's first novel. Her writing is reminiscent of Fannie Flagg - only it's not as good. Wall has considerably less character and plot development than Flagg. Although this was an enjoyable book to read, with it's one-dimensional characters it was also quite predictable and, in some ways, came off as an extended series of one liners. I enjoy humorous writing as much as the next person, but I also enjoy a little intelligent development to a novel beyond the obvious. Don't get me wrong, if you stumble across a copy, feel free to read it but know that it's not going to have a whole lot of depth. This would be a great recreational read for summer or over the holidays.
The Belles have been in Leaper's Fork, Tennessee, since before the Civil War, and the Belle women have been strong, independent, and lusty. But in spite of their shocking behavior, the citizens of Leaper's Fork don't hesitate to come to them with their problems or have Belles lay hands on their newborn babies, for the Belles seem to have the sight as well. Charlotte likes to smoke cigars and make money. Not a fan of children, she nevertheless begrudgingly takes in her sister's child, Angela. Charlotte's child-raising technique is "free range," which ultimately leads to a young Angela begetting her own illegitimate daughter, Dixie. No one knows who the father is, but it doesn't slow down Angela and her sultry ways. The Belles' influence is felt throughout Leaper's Fork, and just as inviting are the townspeople in Wall's wonderfully endearing story of love, life, and change, and Wall's extraordinary and original style is the icing on one very enticing cake. Maria Hatton, Copyright © American Library Association.
"Despite her flawless track record [in predicting the future], Bedford Braxton Belle wouldn't listen when she told him hard liquor would be the death of him. You can lead a horse to water, but a jackass takes his whiskey straight up."
"Charlotte had no time for weak men or foolish women. She especially disliked tedious people. Since it had been her experience that most people were tedious, she disliked most people."
"Lettie was a born-again Baptist. It had been Charlotte's observation that while the Baptists and the Church of Christ shared the same how-to manual, there was considerable brand loyalty." (Note that this is a whole paragraph in the book.)
"Nothing ties the tongue like knowing a secret that would hurt a man more than the lie he is living."