Development threatens Abbotsville, but not for long when Miss Julia takes on the cause
When developers threaten to bulldoze the old courthouse to make way for condominiums, Miss Julia is dismayed. She enlists the help of Etta Mae Wiggins in a plot to scare off the money by exposing the town's many eccentric characters. Abbotsville has plenty of local color of the kind not usually listed in brochures for upscale condos: Tonya's sex change, Julia's stint as a biker chick, Brother Vern's evangelistic passion, and a mysterious apparition on a church wall. As if this isn't enough to keep Miss Julia busy, she soon also discovers that several of her friends' husbands have vanished--and her own husband seems to be as scarce as hen's teeth. Marriages, divorces, fraud charges, and reconciliations all play out against a backdrop of Miss Julia's struggle to save Abbotsville's historic courthouse, her marriage, and her sanity. Miss Julia Paints the Town is another rollicking good ride for fans of the winning series.
Julia Springer Murdoch has survived widowhood, scandals and her share of delightfully harebrained adventures in eight previous Miss Julia outings; here she tackles a town's worth of problems. Smarmy New Jersey developer Arthur Kessler plans to tear down the old Abbotsville, N.C., courthouse and replace it with condos, but more pressing is the fact that three of Julia's friends' husbands have decamped or gone missing, including Richard Stroud, who may have absconded with a great deal of money. Everyone's turning to Julia for advice except for Richard's wife, Helen, who's getting too cozy for comfort as she cries on the shoulder of Miss Julia's good-natured second husband, Sam. Julia rallies her friends to convince Kessler that Abbotsville is too full of Southern eccentricities for him, but those eccentricities may be too real for the plan to work. The memorably droll Ross has a gift for elevating such everyday matters as marital strife and the hazards of middle age to high comedy, while painting her beautifully drawn characters with wit and sympathy. (Mar.)
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March 26, 2008
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