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Little Altars Everywhere by Rebecca Wells

Little Altars Everywhere (1992)

by Rebecca Wells

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Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
Ok. Not as good as the Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. ( )
  Icewineanne | Aug 4, 2016 |
I've just finished Little Altars Everywhere and it wasn't at all the book I thought it was. I picked it up thinking it was a pink and fluffy book - probably because my impressions of Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood are of a light film with Sandra Bullock dancing around a room. Knowing this was a prequel to "Divine Secrets I assumed, when I picked it up it was a light-hearted read as well.

It's not at all an easy read. This book is essentially about the lives of a family - mum and dad, Vivianne and "Big Shep" Walker", and their four children, Siddalee, Little Shep, Lulu and Baylor - living in the deep south in the USA. The parents are both alcoholics and mistreat the children in a terrible manner. The parents' misbehaviour has a huge impact on all four children, driving them to obsessive behaviour to cope with their treatment.

The first half of the book is quite light-hearted and the reader is lulled into thinking the behaviour of the parents is explainable. However the second half of the book is much darker and more disturbing, and much more upsetting. It touches on sexual abuse, alcoholism, obsessive compulsive disorder, religious obsession and more.

The book is written from all six Walker family members' perspectives, plus those of their "hired help", Chaney and Willetta, who live a short distance away. Wells as an author is very skilled at lending very distinct voices to each of the different narrators which really helps this book flow. ( )
  AlexisLovesBooks | Apr 6, 2016 |
I started this book knowing that it was the first one in the series of the Ya-Ya's. I had read the Devine Secrets a couple of years ago and wanted to start from the beginning, something I'm doing with all of the series' that I have started somewhere in the middle. I loved the Devine Secrets, more than the movie but still just as good.

This book goes into not just the life of Siddalee Walker but rather the lives of all of the family member, Vivi, Shep, Little Shep, Lulu, and Baylor as well as the Letta and Chaney, the two people in their lives that were there for them when their parents weren't. If anyone has read the Devine Secrets, they know what kind of life the children were put through. However, I liked seeing it from the point of view of Shep and Vivi too. See how they reacted to the things that happened as well as how it affected their relationship as well.

Overall, I'm glad that I read this one second, and not first originally. I think that it gives a great back story to the characters as well as sets up the scene and makes things enjoyable for reading. I thought it was a well written piece and actually want to re-read Devine Secrets as well as read Ya-Ya's in Bloom. ( )
  welkeral | Mar 20, 2016 |
Little Alters Everywhere is the hilarious, poignant, tragic, compassionate multi-layered saga of the turbulent Walker family in Thornton, Louisiana from the 1960s to the present. Different facets of the story are revealed gradually. Siddalee Walker's mother Viviane is a witty, bright, cultured drunk. She is also viciously abusive to her children. Sidda's father Shepley Walker is immature but a hardworking farmer who hides out at the duck camp whenever things are not going his way. When Big Shep leaves, the children are at the mercy of their mother, who beats them with a belt until their legs bleed.

Still, there are idyllic scenes when Mama and her girlfriends, the Ya-Yas, take all the children to Spring Creek, the summer retreat. There, without the fathers around, everyone swims, reads and just relaxes. Viviane's own mother Buggy is mentally unstable and as selfish as her daughter. The narrative focuses on eldest daughter Siddalee Walker, who is the major target of her mother's alcoholic rage.

The great tragedy of Viviane's life was the death of her first son, Siddalee's twin brother, when he was just a few days old. Viviane or "Vivi" as her friends call her, also abuses prescription drugs. When Shepley Walker accuses his wife of being a drunk and an unfit mother, she moves out of their bedroom permanently. Viviane begins fondling all of her children in bed at night, especially her eldest son Little Shep.

Shepley Walker is struggling with his own problems including a mountain of inherited debt, which he hides from his wife and family. When he is appointed to the draft board, Big Shep finds that he must send scores of young men, many of them the sons of friends, to die in Vietnam. Whenever the combined weight of these problems becomes too great, Big Shep flees to his duck camp, leaving his children at their mother's mercy.

Viviane turns to religion after the break in her marriage. One night, she returns from a retreat in a vicious mood, from not having had a drink or any drugs for three days. Later that evening, she takes all four of her naked children outside and brutally beats then with a belt, until they legs are raw. The family's faithful maid. Willetta, intercedes and forces Mrs. Walker to stop. Despite this abusive, chaotic and sometimes charming childhood, the four Walker children grow to be productive adults, although each is scarred in his or her own way.

Siddalee is on Xanax for anxiety. She is a theater director based in New York who seldom returns home to see her family. Little Shep is perhaps the most damaged by Viviane's sexual abuse, although he buries his feelings and shows it the least. Still, his relationship with his own wife and children is profoundly affected because Little Shep does not trust himself to be close to anyone. He also drinks behind his wife's back. Lulu shoplifts constantly as a teen and has a problem with overeating. Baylor, the youngest, overcompensates by becoming an attorney, although he wrestles with private demons. His three children, including baby Lee, are the light of his life.

When Siddalee finally returns home for baby Lee's baptism, she finds her mother unchanged. Still, Sidda manages to see her mother as a funny, troubled, witty woman who did the best she could. Sidda is then able to forgive her mother, finding her own peace in the process. ( )
  bostonwendym | Mar 3, 2016 |
See my review of [Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood] as I read these two books back-to-back ( )
  BookConcierge | Feb 8, 2016 |
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Everything in life that we really accept undergoes a change. So suffering must become love. That is the mystery. - Katherine Mansfield
To Thomas Schworer, my beloved
Thomas Wells, my brother
T.G., my guide
Lodi, my home soil
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In my dream, I'm five years old again and it's a summer night at our camp at Spring Creek.
Cleanliness might be next to godliness, but honey let me tell you, ugliness will get you nowhere.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0060759968, Paperback)

"It can wear you to a nub, trying to be a popular person and a good Catholic all at the same time." So says Sidda, one of the characters inhabiting Little Altars Everywhere. Author Rebecca Wells uses her considerable acting talent to perform this abridgment, adding even more spark to her already lively characters. Everyone--Shep, Vivi, Willetta, and the rest--is given a distinct voice, and Wells plays each of them to the hilt. More like a recording of a one-woman show than a mere reading, Altars is an excellent example of how entertaining audiobooks can be. (Running time: 3 hours, 2 cassettes) --C.B. Delaney

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:48 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

The Walker clan, Vivi and Big Shep; their children Sidda, Little Shep, Lulu, and Baylor; Vivi's long-time girlfriends the Ya-Yas; and neighbors Cheney and Willetta, live out their lives in flamboyant and secretive style in the bayou of Thorton, Louisiana.… (more)

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