“On the front porch of one Victorian home in the small Southern town of Eubanks, six women gather to indulge themselves in some cutting up, cutting loose, and an unparalleled stream of blowing off steam.
While these friends cannot stop the events that at times attempt to knock them off their charted courses, they do find a way to embrace the changes in their lives—through each other’s support, laughter, and a healthy dose of Miss Abby’s lemonade. Hold the vodka?”
One of my favourite books, which I go back to repeatedly, is The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells and I am consistently drawn to any book that promises tales of warm, Southern life and female friendship. From the description, I thought this was going to be such a book, and the colourful jug of lemonade on the cover seduced me further but, having read it, I am afraid I have been left wanting.
This book centres around the friendship of six Southern women who gather frequently on the porch of their unofficial leader, Abigail Ashhurst, to drink her famous homemade lemonade (the recipe for this delight is in the front of the book and I am definitely going to give it a try soon) and put the world to rights. These women are strong and sassy and have each others backs through the onslaught of trials, tribulations and tragedies that befall them over the course of two years.
I say two years but the time frame is not clear as it is not a linear story but rather jumps around in time from one day to another and then weeks or months ahead and then back to a few days apart. It is often hard to tell exactly when in time we are in relation to the last chapter which made the read a little disorienting.
In addition, and to confuse things more, this is not a clear, linear plot but a series of vignettes and stories about each of the six women intermingled, so you are often trying to sort out which character is which, who their husbands/children/dogs/colleagues are and what they each do, as well as the relevance of the anecdote. It does not make for easy reading and I also found that the jumping around made it impossible for me to bond with any of the characters enough to particularly care about them. This became an issue when the author was trying to address some serious issues faced by a couple of the characters towards then end. I had no emotional investment in the characters which lessened the impact of these events. I think the author was trying to use these stories to reveal the character of the six women and the Southern way of life, but it really didn’t work for me at all.
There was some really good scene setting which gave us a feeling of what the town of Eubanks was like and an insight into the peculiarly Southern way of life but there wasn’t enough of this to satisfy me or make up for what the book lacked in other areas.
One of the main issues I had was the main character of Abby and trying to work out her character. I think the women are all supposed to be of a similar age – mid-40s – but a couple of them spoke and acted like teenagers and ‘Miss Abby’ came across as about 80. She was so uptight (she runs the local school of etiquette) with seemingly no private life and no sense of humour that she was totally impossible to relate to. I just did not connect with any of the characters at all which made this a tough read.
This isn’t a terrible book, I didn’t hate it. On finishing it I mainly felt a sense of relief and a certain dissatisfaction that I hadn’t gained anything from the reading experience.
Front Porch Lemonade is out now and you can buy a copy here.
Thank you to NetGalley and thewordverveinc for my copy of this book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.
About the Author
JudiLynn Taylor is a Southern gal through and through . . . with an accent to prove it.
Her laugh is both unique and infectious, and she shares it generously, naturally drawn to the humor in life. When she is not spending time with her family and close friends—her greatest of joys—you may find her hiking along the Georgia trails, gardening in her yard or stirring up a batch of homemade chocolate truffles. Currently, JudiLynn lives in the North Georgia area with her husband Mike and their two Cocker Spaniels, Oskar Myer and Gracie Grace.