||February 17, 2010
This contemporary work of women’s fiction will have you laughing and crying as three ladies discover the truth about what makes a poignant but feisty family.
The orderly life of successful artist and regal widow, Regina Morgan-Smith, abruptly changes with the arrival of her frumpy cousin, Annabelle--and not for the better. Homeless and covered in bruises, Annabelle requires more attention than Regina’s willing to give. However, family ties are strong, and Regina takes Annabelle into her home in the once opulent Riverside area of Wichita, Kansas.
Finding refuge in cigarettes Regina begins to hear her dead mother’s voice which only adds to the confusion.
Regina’s best friend and housemate, gourmet chef Matilda (Tillie) Dawson takes on the job of referee between the two cousins. But Tillie’s breast cancer diagnosis pushes Regina further over the edge of reason.
The entrance of a handsome neighbor further complicates the already tense household. Although all three ladies are attracted to his good looks and charm, he only has eyes for Tillie. And then Annabelle’s three grandchildren are abandoned on their doorstep adding bedlam to disorder.
Could a peaceful coexistence between Regina and her cousin ever be achieved? Will Tillie survive the illness that threatens her body and her new beau? Is it possible to find love so late in life?
The grinding of the brakes jolted her back to the present and the smell of dirty socks and stale cigarette smoke.
“Is this the place, ma’am?” the driver asked.
She looked at the three-story house; pristine white paint glowed in the sun. “Yes,” she said.
“That’ll be five seventy-five,” he said and hung his open palm over his shoulder into the back seat. His knuckles bulged and his fingers were crooked and the skin cracked.
“I’m sorry, how much?” She held her breath for a moment, hoping she had enough for the fare.
“Five seventy-five,” he flipped the meter handle down and put the car in park. Turning, he looked over the seat with his grizzled chin and rheumy eyes. “You okay?”
“Yes, fine . . . sorry . . .” Annabelle stuffed her handkerchief back up the sleeve of her cardigan and opened her cracked vinyl pocketbook. She pulled out four crumpled ones, two quarters, and an assortment of dimes and pennies from her coin purse. She dropped the wadded bills in his palm and proceeded to count the coins. “Ninety, ninety-one, ninety-two . . .”
“It’s five seventy-five, lady,” he said. The radio squawked, but he didn’t answer.
“That makes five, forty-two,” she said. “Just a minute, I always have coins in the bottom of my bag. They fall out sometimes . . .” She found another thirty cents in change and dropped it in his palm. The money she’d placed there had already disappeared into his pocket.
Feathered Quill Book Review
Feisty Family Values:
By: B.D. Tharp
Publisher: Five Star Publishing
Publication Date: February 2010
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: October 2009
At 65, Annabelle is alone and frightened. Her daughter Liddy kicked her out after Annabelle burned one too many meals and now she has no one to turn to but Regina, her cold-hearted cousin. When Annabelle shows up at Regina’s doorstep, the well-to-do Regina reluctantly allows Annabelle to stay, but only until the ragged relative can find other living arrangements.
It is soon apparent that Liddy did more than just force Annabelle out, she physically and emotionally abused the lovable grandmother. When Tillie, Regina’s long time housemate discovers the truth, the plucky gourmet chef takes Annabelle under her wing (along with an abandoned, adorable three-legged kitten that Annabelle rescued). Regina unenthusiastically accepts the increased noise in her once quiet house with the hope that it won’t last long. Fortunately Regina has her attic studio to escape to where she can paint to her heart’s delight.
When a hunky new neighbor, Joe, arrives, all three ladies are smitten but it is Tillie who steals Joe’s heart. All is well until Tillie has an old enemy, cancer, resurface. Everybody in the household wants to help Tillie with her battle, but each person reacts differently. While Annabelle does all she can to help Tillie, Regina retreats to her studio, unable to deal with the possible loss of her best friend. Joe too, is terrified of losing Tillie and so, instead of supporting her, makes a quick exit.
Feisty Family Values is a poignant look at three middle-aged women, their fears and hopes, and day-to-day challenges. Even with a somewhat anxiety-provoking theme of a battle with cancer running through much of this book, it is far from a depressing read. Rather, it is a joyful, and sometimes funny, visit with three loving, nurturing, and caring women who are struggling to find happiness. I was drawn into the story on the very first page when Annabelle is unable to pay the taxi driver the full amount owed on her fare. Peering out of the cab at the beautiful home of her cousin, poor Annabelle, tattered and tired, looks to the taxi’s back seat for loose change. Beautifully written, I could feel Annabelle’s embarrassment and wanted to take her home myself. The author is a talented writer who draws fully developed characters. Tillie, an opinionated, stop-at-nothing, kind of gal, is just as likeable as Annabelle while Regina, with a cold exterior, was truly hard to like until well into the story. She was selfish and more concerned with appearances than what truly
matters – family. But like the other characters in Feisty Family Values, Regina hides some secrets that account, in large part, for her cold exterior. Will she figure out the true meaning of family before it is too late? You’ll have to read this wonderful story to find out.
Quill says: Every woman should get a copy of Feisty Family Values, cuddle up on her favorite chair, and enjoy the ride.
Reader Views Book Review
best friend and housemate, Tillie Dawson provides some much needed balance and sanity in their daily lives.
That is, until Tillie’s cancer returns and threatens not only her life, but also Regina’s sanity and Annabelle’s shelter. To further complicate matters, a new and very handsome neighbor enters the lives of the three ladies. While all three of them seem to like him quite a bit, he seems to have fallen pretty badly for Tillie, until she tells him about her situation. Once more, the ostensible balance is destroyed. If all of this is not enough to drive the three ladies to utter distraction, Annabelle’s three grandchildren end up living in Regina’s house as well. If you are thinking, “The more, the merrier...,” think again.
Could those three ladies “of a certain age” find happiness late in life? Could they possibly even find love?
B.D. Tharp’s story is a great example of contemporary and relevant writing; perceptive, intelligent and poignant. It deals with believable and distressing situations that many of us have faced or will have to face one day. The characters are colorful, entertaining and easy to relate to. One might even find one’s traits in several of the main characters. What I found particularly refreshing were the older characters who are still full of life and who desire to live their life to the fullest. This book, “Feisty Family Values,” will make you laugh out loud, but is also a book that will make you think. It should make you grateful for what you have and hopeful for whatever you are still wishing for, and above all, it should make you grateful for your family and friends and all that they give you on a continuous basis.
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Reader Reviews for "Feisty Family Values"
|Reviewed by Deb Hockenberry
|A cab stops in front of the Victorian mansion in a well-to-do neighborhood in Wichita, Kansas. The passenger fumbles through her wallet for the correct fare. Finding everything but thirty cents, she dives into her cracked vinyl purse in search of it. The passenger walks up the steps of the mansion to see if her cousin, Regina, will take her in. But why is she here?
Regina, a bitter lady, a snob and born with a silver spoon in her mouth, hesitantly lets her poor relation in. After all, Annabelle is family. Regina is sure that her cousin’s stay will only be temporary. It has to be temporary! What will the neighbors think and how did Annabelle get that black eye? Tillie joins Regina at the door and makes up Regina’s mind for her.
Tillie is Regina’s best friend. She also lives in the old Victorian. Tillie is the total opposite of Regina. She’s full of life, accepts people for who they are, never hesitates to tell Regina what she thinks and is also a gourmet cook. In short, she’s one feisty lady!
Annabelle is different from either Regina or Tillie. Life has made her a timid creature so she doesn’t really speak up much. She is so eager to please her cousin that she’s even willing to learn to cook the way Tillie does! Will Annabelle overcome her shyness?
Will these three women be able to live together as a family unit? After all, each lady is in her 60’s and life has made each totally different from the other.
What’s happening to Regina’s perfect life? Now, there’s a cat in the house not to mention the chaos of Annabelle’s three grandchildren that are there periodically. What has made Regina so bitter? We don’t find this out until the end of the book. To complicate matters even more, a hunk of a man moves in right across the street from the ladies. All three ladies fall for their handsome neighbor. Will he fall for one of them?
I highly recommend Feisty Family Values. This is a very compelling and relatable tale that I had trouble putting down. Everyone knows people like Regina, Tillie and Annabelle.
B.D. Tharp’s book deals with cancer, parental abuse, child abuse, love in your 60’s and more. Not only did she touch on some very real issues in her book but she wrote a very entertaining one. Feisty Family Values keeps you turning the pages!