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After the Ya-Ya craze had faded, a friend lent me her copy with an irresistible personal review and I finally gave in.
Guess what? Two chapters in, I was hooked.
And if you were too, you’ll love these books similar to Rebecca Wells novels like The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder (Rebecca Wells, 2009) and Little Altars Everywhere (Rebecca Wells, 1998)
She writes interconnecting stories, flitting between past and present. The unavoidably big stories, the tiny little ones and forgotten tales that explain so much.
Just like Siddalee Walker, the Washington State-based author has lived in New York and Louisiana and if you’ve read her books, you’ll know just how much those places seep into her writing.
You could read those passages in November and still taste the iced tea.
If you like Rebecca Wells you’ll like Sue Monk Kidd. Georgia state native Kidd grew up during the height of civil rights tensions, so it makes sense that her first book covers that ground.
The backdrop might be racial tension, but at the heart of this book you’ll find love and friendship.
Lily runs away from her abusive stepfather’s home with her maid and friend, Rosaleen.
They find a safehouse with three beekeeping sisters, as Lily learns about her late mother, bees and tiny wonders that would fit right into any Rebecca Wells story.
‘I looked down at the bee jar still clutched in my hand and saw a teaspoon of teardrops floating in the bottom.’ Kathryn Stockett
Written in alternating voices, Stockett follows Skeeter as she kicks off her writing career by interviewing local maids, Aibileen and Minnie, even if it means defying her society girl best friend, Hilly.
The changing narrators let us in on so many secrets and ambitions – as in the Ya-Ya books, we get to understand each character a whole lot better.
Like Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (Callie Khouri, 2002), it’s a Sandra Bullock movie set in Washington State and adapted from a bestselling novel.
‘I wonder if I’ll ever write anything worth anything at all. I turn when I hear Pascagoula’s knock on my door. That’s when the idea comes to me.’ Alice Hoffman
It’s based on Alice Hoffman’s Practical Magic, and though most of her books aren’t so outright witchy, magical realism makes a regular appearance.
The closest comparison? I’d say Little Altars Everywhere.
Set in Hoffman’s native Long Island, New York, each chapter of Local Girls is a short story from the lives of Gretel, her mother Franny, cousin Margot and best friend Jill.
We get a little insight into each of the characters’ happiest moments, tragedies and turning points.
Now, remember that magical realism?
It’s there in the wishes characters make, the little signs, the elements and the ghost in the kitchen (just wait and see).
‘We ran until we turned into smoke; we could float across lawns and drift under windows and doors.’
Are there any other authors who really know how to write about cicadas, bayous and memories?
Share your favourites in the comments.