Miss Julia is one of the most delightful characters to come along in years. (Fannie Flagg) Ross allows the reader to laugh gently at feisty, opinionated Miss Julia while thoroughly enjoying the view through her eyes. [For] readers who love Jan Karon. (Booklist)
Imagine Aunt Bee from the Andy Griffith Show with a lot more backbone and confidence, and drop her smack in the middle of a humorous, rollicking plot akin to that of the movie Smokey and the Bandit and you have the tone and pace of Ross's entertaining second novel (after Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind) starring the feisty Southern heroine. When the sheriff won't help Miss Julia find Hazel Marie, her deceased husband's former girlfriend who now lives with Miss Julia along with Hazel Marie's illegitimate son, Little Lloyd, she takes over, determined to rescue Hazel Marie from danger. Miss Julia quickly finds herself embroiled in scandals involving Brother Vernon Puckett, "a ranting and raving television and tent-revivalist," and Pastor Larry Ledbetter, a "silky smooth pulpiteer of the biggest church in town." A handsome private investigator and a famous NASCAR driver add to the exploits. Gallivanting all over North Carolina, Miss Julia "takes a hand in her own life" as she searches for Hazel Marie, running into unexpected trouble, car chases and illegal activities. At times, this teetotaling dowager full of ironic self-righteousness seems a bit contrived, and the scenes in which she helps Hazel Marie escape from the bad guys are far-fetched. Despite the simplistic spin, Miss Julia will continue to appeal to the many readers who enjoyed the first book, as well as fans of fiction by Southern writers like Bailey White, Anne George and Fannie Flagg. (July 23) Forecast: In the short term, national publicity and a 10-city author tour will help to get the word out. The film version of Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind, starring Shirley MacLaine and Dolly Parton, is in the works, which bodes well for the long term. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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April 29, 2002
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Excerpt from Miss Julia Takes Over by Ann B. Ross
I declare, if it's not one thing, it's two more. Or, in my case, a half-a-dozen. Seems like everytime I turn around, there's something else to worry me half to death.
Feeling too antsy to sit still, I closed my checkbook and put it in the desk drawer. Who can balance a bank statement with troubles whipping around like the cold wind outside March, I thought, with a shiver. We could do without it, if you ask me, yet the whole unpredictable month was still ahead of us.
I walked to the window and looked out at the gray morning, noticing the one, lone crocus poking up through the ice that lined the hedge along the side yard. If I'd had a poetic turn of mind, I might've seen it as a symbol of hope or of a brighter day coming or of some other such uplifting thought. But all I could do was wonder how the voles had missed it when they ate the rest of them.
I walked back to the fireplace and adjusted the flame in the gas logs that I'd had the good sense to put in after the last time we lost power in an ice storm. Be prepared, I always say, but nobody could be prepared for all the troubles and worries and problems that were piling up everywhere I looked. If we'd had a real fire, I'd've kicked a log.
Lillian stuck her head around the swinging door and called through the dining room. "You goin' to see Mr. Sam 'fore you eat, or after I need to know 'fore I set lunch on the table."
"I can't be worried with him now. Lillian, I can't stand this. Where is she " I threw up my hands, just about at the end of my rope. "And I don't want anything to eat."
"Uh-huh, I hear you, but I already got it fixed." She propped her hands on her hips and announced in that bossy way of hers, "An' I don't know anymore'n you do about where she is, but somebody better be doin' something about it."
I knew who that somebody was. Me. Lillian'd been pushing me to do something ever since she'd come to work at seven this morning, while I kept hoping Hazel Marie would show up with a decent explanation for her overnight absence. I declare, it's a burden when everybody stands around, waiting for me to make everything right. Lillian, though, had been with me for so long that she didn't mind telling me what to do and when to do it. Half of what she said usually went in one ear and out the other. But not today, because I was either going to have to do something or pull my hair out, one.
But she wasn't through giving me instructions. "Go on over to Mr. Sam's an' see what he say. He countin' on seein' you, anyway."
"What can he do, laid up like he is with a cast up to his you-know-what Serves him right, is all I can say, out there in a trout stream in the dead of winter."
"What's done is done," she said, "an' no use rantin' around about it. Now, come on in here an' get your coat."
With a click of my tongue, I followed her into the kitchen. "Well, he deserves to suffer the consequences, and I don't mind seeing that he does."
"Mr. Sam, he just want your help to see 'bout that home nurse the doctor say he have to have. It won't hurt you to go over there an' be sure she know what she doin', since he can't hardly do a thing for hisself with that leg hiked up all the time. He need you to lighten him up a little."