Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Women of the South and Why I Love Them

I just finished reading a book called "Crazy Ladies" by Michael Lee West.  It wasn't until the end of the book that I realized the author was a woman.  That peeved me slightly, because I thought a man had finally cracked open the psyche of a woman.  Anyway, I digress about that. 

I am relentlessly nosey and reading helps satisfy my unnatural wonder for how other people live.  I generally lean towards biographies or historical drama type books with one exception.  Southern Woman Fiction.  I can hardly get enough of it.  I think I actually cried when I realized I had read all of Rebecca Wells' books. 

Obviously, the writers of said books have talent or else I would not get past the first few pages, but what draws me in is some deeper level of understanding.  These women say "ya'll" and kitchy things like "hells bells" or "Lordy Jesus".  They drink iced tea and never have to include that it's sweet tea (it's just understood here in the South).  They wear cotton dresses and look effortless, even if they spent an hour doing their hair.  They talk about butterbeans, babies and being crazy as if each were a rite of passage. 

There is rarely anything more important to a Southern woman than her family and in these books I love, family takes on every form of cohesion.  Whether it be the family you were born into, the family you marry into or the family you make for yourself, out of friends and sister women, each of these characters clings to them for better or for worse.  Of course, in most of these books, the family you were born into is full of crazy drunks, the one you marry into is full of snotty people that never accept you and the one you make is full of gay men or women that are tragically ill/beaten/crazier than you (and any combination thereof). 

I love how these Southern women just take it all in stride.  Nothing is too big or too awful to handle.  Granted, there is a lot of bourbon and "nerve pills" swallowed down with the gravity of the situation, but to me that is the mark of a tough as nails kinda gal.  One that can down a jigger of Wild Turkey, swipe on some lipstick and say "Hells bells that was a close one".  I guess some would describe it as gracefulness.

So why do I love Southern women?  The way they talk, the way they look and the way they handle life.  I was born and raised in the South.  I once took a minor detour to the Pacific Northwest, felt like I was a catfish out of water and promptly returned to the heart of Dixie.  And even though I can feel the roots of the South deep in my bones, I am still working on being a true Southern woman.

A high station in life is earned by the gallantry with which appalling experiences are survived with grace.   -Tennessee Williams


  1. Reading about Southern women is wonderful, I agree. It's when they make it into a movie and we have to hear the god-awful fake Southern accents that ruins it all. Some of the best actresses have murdered the accent time and again. Every single person in the movie Steel Magnolias (save Dolly Parton) spring to mind.

  2. have you read any of Jill Conner Brown books Sweet Potato Queen very funny and true

  3. Sarah that is so true. When I read the books I can imagine their wonderful southern voices and what they look like. Makes for a much better story.

    Patricia, I have not. After I work my through Michael Lee West, I will promptly pick up Jill Conner Brown. Thanks so much for the info!

  4. Have you read the Miss Julia series of books by Ann B. Ross? I have only read the first (Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind), but I am itching to get the rest of the series! What is it about books about Southern women?? I love 'em!


Like George Washington Carver said:

1. Be clean both inside and outside.
2. Neither look up to the rich nor down on the poor.
3. Lose, if need be, without squealing.
4. Win without bragging.
5. Always be considerate of women, children and old people.
6. Be too brave to lie.
7. Be too generous to cheat.
8. Take your share of the world and let others take theirs.


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