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The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove by Susan…

The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove (2011)

by Susan Gregg Gilmore

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I really wanted to like this book. The premise held so much promise, but I never felt enough time or effort were put into a character or a storyline. I respected Bezellia, because even when she was trying to find herself, and grow up away from her family, if they needed her, she was there. But the storylines just didn't pan out for me. I wanted to know why her mother had the issues she had, and even though some was revealed at the end of the book, it was too late. And while I understand the difficulties of black/white relationships in the 60's, I never really felt the love Bezellia and Samuel claimed to have for each other.

I gave it a 3, because I finished it, and because I didn't hate it. But I didn't love it either. ( )
  suequeblue | Jan 22, 2018 |
Another great Southern novel from Gilmore, with a little more grit than Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen. Bezellia belongs to a well-known Southern family, so a lot of things are expected of her. Instead, she falls in love with the hired help, who happens to be black. More tough issues are tackled in this book, and there is not a happy ending, but the flash forwards scattered throughout work great as hints to what happens when the book ends. ( )
  howifeelaboutbooks | Nov 4, 2015 |
This is the story of the upbringing of a girl in Tennessee in the 60s. She is part of a rich family that has their fair share of problems. The book follows her through middle school, high school, and a bit beyond that. There are many issues with her family and as Bezillia grows she starts to learn why people end up the way they do and who she can truely count on as memebrs of her family.
I rarely read books set in the south in this time period, and I’m not sure why because I usually love them. Similar setting to The Help but more of a coming of age story. I think anyone who is interested (and slightly fascinated) by that era and the south would enjoy this, maybe it just seems so foreign to me that I really enjoy reading about it. The other benefit is that it is pretty short and easy to get through, and you are satisfied by the time you get through it! ( )
  afyfe | Jan 23, 2015 |
I'm officially a Susan Gregg Gilmore fan. I liked her debut novel, Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen, and her most recent book, The Funeral Dress, so I had high hopes for this one, and it didn't disappoint. Bezellia Grove is born into an old Nashville family and saddled with the name of a famous ancestor. But living up to the expectations of her mother, who is concerned with the maintaining her place in Nashville society, is difficult in tumultuous 1960s. The context makes this more than a typical coming of age novel as Gilmore captures the time and place while developing a character that is as complex and real as the times. ( )
1 vote porch_reader | May 29, 2014 |
Thoughtful coming of age tale focusing on mother daughter relationships in Nashville. ( )
  daniellnic | Sep 25, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307395030, Hardcover)

Nobody in Nashville has a bigger name to live up to than Bezellia Grove.  As a Grove, she belongs to one of city’s most prominent families and is expected to embrace her position in high society.  That means speaking fluent French, dancing at cotillions with boys from other important families, and mastering the art of the perfect smile. 
Also looming large is her given name Bezellia, which has been passed down for generations to the first daughter born to the eldest Grove.  The others in the long line of Bezellias shortened the ancestral name to Bee, Zee or Zell.  But Bezellia refuses all nicknames and dreams that one day she, too, will be remembered for her original namesake’s courage and passion.
Though she leads a life of privilege, being a Grove is far from easy.  Her mother hides her drinking but her alcoholism is hardly a secret.  Her father, who spends long hours at work, is distant and inaccessible.  For as long as she can remember, she’s been raised by Maizelle, the nanny, and Nathaniel, the handyman.  To Bezellia, Maizelle and Nathaniel are cherished family members.  To her parents, they will never be more than servants.  
Relationships are complicated in 1960s Nashville, where society remains neatly ordered by class, status and skin color.  Black servants aren’t supposed to eat at the same table as their white employers.  Black boys aren’t supposed to make conversation with white girls.  And they certainly aren’t supposed to fall in love.  When Bezellia has a clandestine affair with Nathaniel’s son, Samuel, their romance is met with anger and fear from both families.  In a time and place where rebelling against the rules carries a steep price, Bezellia Grove must decide which of her names will be the one that defines her.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:33 -0400)

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Born to prominent but dysfunctional Nashville parents, Bezellia Grove leans on disregarded African-American servants as substitute family figures and incites wrath from both groups when she pursues an interracial relationship.

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