Review: Cakewalk: A Novel by Rita Mae Brown. Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine

cakewalkWell! I guess I’m late to the Runnymede party. I’ve LOVED Rita Mae Brown’s books for years–especially the Mrs. Murphy and Sister stories. But there seems to be no end to her imagination, inventiveness, or storytelling artistry.  Now, I find, we have the Runnymede stories. Cakewalk is the fourth book set in the charming community of Runnymede, Maryland (with the Mason-Dixon Line running right through it).

It’s 1920. The War to End All Wars is over, Prohibition is in its early days, and women are working hard to get the vote. We have two young sisters, Louise (Wheesie) and Julia (Juts), plus the beautiful, wealthy Celeste Chalfonte, her straight-laced sister Carlotta and BFF’s Fairy and Fannie Jump with lots of adventures. Wheesie is setting the town’s fashion tastes at the Bon Ton and finding her own true love. Juts, in the tenth grade, is engaged in a running battle with an obnoxious schoolmate known as Dimps Junior, getting into battles and scrapes, counting the days till she can leave school.

Celeste is dealing with a new situation–her long-time lover is an expectant mother and marries the baby’s father, leaving Celeste at loose ends. But no problem; Celeste actually surprises others and herself by finding her own handsome antidote.

What is the book about? Life, love, baseball, war, peace, good whiskey, fashion, sex, religion, friendship–all in a rollicking and lively story that just keeps rolling along at a brisk pace. Ms. Brown paints such vivid scenes. Among the more memorable: the moon-jumping cow, the play-by-play of an exciting baseball game, the Runnymede celebration of Magna Carta Day and its vivid, if unladylike, climax. All the while, it’s entertaining, outrageous, thought-provoking, nostalgic, and great fun.

My heartfelt thanks to Rita Mae Brown, the publishers, and NetGalley for making this marvelous book available for me to read and review.


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