Anyone who follows me on Facebook will know I’m a huge fan of Rita Mae Brown. Today I’m bringing you a review of Southern Discomfort, not my favourite of her novels, but still an absolute delight. So much so that my copy (which has the original cover, as shown on the left) is remarkably battered.
Sharp, witty, poignant as ever, Southern Discomfort introduces us to a town divided by sex, race, and class. The novel has a wide cast of characters, both in the sense that there are a lot of them, and in the sense that they are all very different.
I did find it slow going at first, as we are introduced to each of the myriad of players in this novel. It takes a while for it to settle down and for us to see the story unfolding.
But what a story it is.
The main focus is on a love story that crosses class and race divides to bring true meaning to the life of a formerly very cold woman. It is far more complicated and tragic than it may sound, however, and the tale spans over ten years in this town and the lives of the people in it.
The whores hate the preacher, the preaches is convinced he can change the world, whites ignore blacks, blacks conduct themselves in a far more civilised manner than whites, and while the men of the town are satisfying their needs with the whores, their wives are left to climb the social ladder and throw elaborate parties. In a complex series of events we get flashes of insight into the lives of many wonderful characters, all of them with their own unique and interesting stories, all of them interconnected by the town they’re from.
I won’t offer any spoilers, but there are twists and turns aplenty. I was in floods of tears more than once and laughing at others. There are some deeply disturbing issues discussed, yet they’re handled in the superbly insightful manner I have come to expect from Rita Mae Brown.
Not up there with Rubyfruit Jungle and Venus Envy, but still very much worth a read!