Ain’t She Sweet? ****.* by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
I’m joining Jain with my edible book review at Food for Thought~ where pages from your book magically mix with the kitchen and your camera.
This is one of my favorite books of Susan Elizabeth Phillips, but not her most recent. I also listened to the audio version in addition to reading it. Kate Fleming (who also recorded under the name Anna Fields), is one of my favorite narrators and her accents made listening to this book highly entertaining. She did a GREAT British accent for the character of Colin Byrne.
I thought this would be a timely review given the title, referring to the main character, Sugar Beth Carey.
And No. She Ain’t.
Rich. Spoiled. Beautiful. Conniving…Fifteen years ago.
Now, she’s returning to Parrish, Mississippi…Broke. Tough. Determined. Desperate and too proud to show it.
The citizens of Parrish still remember the abandoned friendships, broken hearts, and reputations she destroyed…and no one is willing to forgive and forget. Least of all, Colin Byrne, the teacher whose career Sugar Beth attempted to ruin.
“He’d use phrases like ‘bloody awful’ and ‘don’t muck about’, and just once, ‘feeling a bit dicky, are we?’ The first week of school they’d spotted him using a tortoiseshell cigarette holder. When he’d overheard some of the boys whispering that he was queer, he’d gazed down his long nose at them and said he regarded that as a compliment, since so many of the world’s greatest men had been homosexual. “Alas,” he’d told them, “I’ve been sentenced to a life of mundane heterosexuality. I can only hope a few of you will be more fortunate.”
Returning to Parrish, Sugar Beth discovers that her former teacher is not only a rich and published author, he is the owner of her former home, Frenchman’s Bride. With financial obligations and unable to find a job, Sugar Beth takes a job as Colin’s housekeeper, where he hopes to exact his revenge.
In addition to Colin, Sugar Beth’s former friends, the Seawillows are biding their time, choosing their plan of attack– especially Winnie Davis, who Sugar Beth took particular delight in tormenting in school.
Shortly after Sugar Beth’s return, Colin’s sequel to his best-seller comes out. Who should star in it but Sugar Beth herself? The names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent. . .
“In 1986, I was 22 years old and Parrish was my nirvana. The townspeople accepted my oddness, my staggering shortcomings in the classroom, my strange accent and haughty pretensions. I was writing a novel, and Mississippi loves a writer more than anyone else. I felt accepted for the first time in my life. I was completely, blissfully, happy… until my Southern Eden was destroyed by a girl named Valentine. . .”
The Seawillows emergency meetings generally call for vodka, cranberry juice and chocolate. . .
With Valentine’s Day around the corner, I took a page from the Sea Willows’ handbook and found a recipe for a Valentini:
1 oz. Raspberry Schnapps
Top with Cranberry Juice
I LOVED the dialogue between these characters~
Sugar Beth eyed Colin’s dark trousers and long-sleeved grape-colored shirt:
“If only I hadn’t sent your dueling pistols to the cleaners.”
As one might expect, Sugar Beth finds redemption, and Colin discovers that revenge ain’t nearly so sweet…
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