Saturday, July 7, 2012

Miss Julia series by Ann B. Ross

Reviewed by Doris

Miss Julia is one of those book characters who becomes a dear, old friend. From the beginning of the series with Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind to the newest entry Miss Julia to the Rescue, you grow more and more attached to this denizen of Abbotsville, North Carolina, and the cast of characters who surround her. Ann B. Ross has a sharp wit and sharp sense of comedy as she moves Miss Julia through adventures that tend to be one step from calamity and make readers laugh out loud. Perhaps because I have known a Miss Julia or two while growing up not far from Ross’s home in Asheville, I always look forward to Miss Julia and her housekeeper Lillian getting in to the car to go check on “something.”  

We first meet her in Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind. Miss Julia has recently buried her husband of 44 years, Wesley Lloyd Springer. Though Wesley was the town’s banker, largest real estate holder, and generally most obnoxious man, Miss Julia has been kept in the dark about the nature of his wealth—not to mention some of his other activities. Discovering that she is now a very, very wealthy widow and no longer under the glare of a mean-spirited miser, Miss Julia has been making slow adjustments to her new life. She’s feeling at loose ends and unsettled when a short-skirted, bleached blonde named Hazel Marie drags a nine year old boy into Miss Julia’s parlor and announces the child is Wesley Lloyd’s son. One look at the child’s eyes which are exactly like his unlamented father’s, and Miss Julia knows she is facing a scandal that could feed Abbotsville’s gossip mill for years to come. There is also her minister who wants to help Miss Julia spend a bunch of that new wealth adding to his church coffers, a kidnapping, and possibly a murder. “Ah, Lawd,” as Miss Julia would say,” It is more than a body should have to bear!” Miss Julia, in the finest tradition of the steel hand in the velvet glove, takes charge of young Lloyd, Hazel Marie, and numerous other characters while she solves a mystery or three and is helped along by Lillian and Mr. Sam, the charming and handsome lawyer who lives just down the street.

One of the best things about the Miss Julia series is the development of the characters. Ross writes with a sure hand as Miss Julia opens her heart to young Lloyd and you see a lovely relationship develop between this childless woman and bright, overly mature child. Her relationship with Lillian is based on their respective strengths, mutual respect, and years spent working together. Sweetest of all is Miss Julia’s developing romance with Mr. Sam. After years of neglect and disdain from Wesley Lloyd it is fun to follow Miss Julia’s first real romance with a man who is enchanted with her in every way.

Grab a glass of lemonade, settle back in the porch swing, and enjoy a little time with Miss Julia!

The series in order: (All are available at the main BPL)

Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind

Miss Julia Takes Over

Miss Julia Throws a Wedding

Miss Julia Hits the Road

Miss Julia Meets Her Match

Miss Julia’s School of Beauty

Miss Julia Stands Her Ground

Miss Julia Strikes Back

Miss Julia Paints the Town

Miss Julia Delivers the Goods

Miss Julia Renews Her Vows

Miss Julia Rocks the Cradle

Miss Julia to the Rescue

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