I've been listening to Ya Yas in Bloom recently in my car. It's the third installment in the series of books by Rebecca Wells. The most well-known of course is The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood, and the other is Little Altars Everywhere. They are set in Louisiana and are all about the four women who are the Ya Yas (Vivi, Teensy, Caro and Necie), friends from childhood, and their husbands and kids (the Petites Ya Yas). The books mostly center around the Walker family, and their four children. The books are told as vignettes in first person by various characters. Divine Secrets of course focuses on the damaged and nearly irreparable relationship between Siddalee Walker and her flawed, beautiful, deeply damaged mother, Vivianne Joan Abbott Walker.
Sidda is exactly my age, having been born in 1953, and throughout the stories, whenever she is talking about her childhood, whether it be clothes, or makeup, or music, or cars, or how their mothers looked, or whatever, it's like she's looking back into my very own past. I also had a beautiful, very flawed mother, and though some of the passages in the books are almost too painful for me, I still am just devouring them because they ring so true to me of my life, my mother, the time period, just the whole feeling of the times. I am at a place now where they are going to see the Beatles in Houston in 1965, and all the descriptions of Sidda and how she is dressed, and how she and her friends are in love with the Beatles and each have a favorite, and how they watched them on Ed Sullivan, and wishing they looked like London girls when they wore their Yardley makeup . . . yep, that's all me, to a T.
These books might not be everyone's cup of tea, and while there is much humor and a lot of irony and great stories, there is also much pain, horrible things that families do to one another, and yet still hope, because in spite of all they've done, there is a deep and true love for each other along the way, mess that they are. They are all narrated by Judith Ivey, a wonderful stage and screen actress who captures the voice of each character, from Vivi to her husband Shep to Sidda to her little brothers, and on down the line, bringing each one to life for me with the most delicious, rich, thick Louisiana drawl you'd ever want to hear. These books, to me, are like life. Bitter and sweet, funny and sad, and they make me care about every single character, even the ones who are not so lovable.
That's good writing to me.