When the small, Southern town of Simpsonville, Alabama, loses its favorite doctor, the ladies in town give little thought to his ailing widow, Miss Adie, who also served as his trusted nurse and knew all too well the longtime secrets these women have kept hidden. When Miss Adie’s faithful caretaker, Eula, has an idea for keeping her devoted Miss Adie's dwindling health and memory active againwriting a book about the history of the town and its peoplethe local Ladies Mission Society, believing Miss Adie is writing about their secrets to get revenge on them for rejecting her, starts to take action before their lives are destroyed.
With unique and engaging voices, each woman of the Society personally recounts her deepest secret she fears will be exposed in the book. Together, these stories are vignettes of the past that touch on difficult subjects, recalling pain and betrayal as well as moving scenes of rekindled relationships and the importance of friends, family, and faith in the women’s lives, past and present.
Filled with poignancy, charm, and a bit of mysterynot to mention some fine Southern cooking Secrets of the Ladies Mission Society will have readers cheering through tears as it comes to its extraordinary conclusion.
|Publisher:||Turner Publishing Company|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.00(d)|
About the Author
Laurie Rothrock Dick is a former magazine editor, public relations/marketing manager, newspaper feature writer and copywriter. At various points in her career, she was the Editor-in-Chief of TV Guide, Southern Banker, a reporter for The Gwinnett Daily News, among other publications. She now writes full time and lives in Alpharetta, Georgia, outside Atlanta. Secrets of the Ladies Mission Society is her first novel.
Read an Excerpt
Driving down the street toward Miss Adie’s, she passed its wooden fence, paint peeling, bordering Doc’s long-neglected garden. Eula was too busy tending to Miss Adie to plow and plant. The big oak still stood shading the screened-in side porch where Doc and Miss Adie often sat on nice evenings, but the once-trimmed green yard had gone to red clover as if it was suffering with rash, and untamed ivy climbed up the side of the garage. The fountain Doc built near the screened porch was stagnant and crumbling. Carrying the cake up the brick walkway to the front yard, Verabelle nearly tripped over a loose stone. When she rang the bells dangling from the rusty iron post on the porch, a black face appeared behind the screen door.
“Why, Miss Verabelle.”
The screen squeaked open. A swirl of dust rode in on a shaft of sunlight.
“Hello, Eula, how’s Miss Adie today?” she asked, walking through a slant of sunlight into the living room that smelled of stale potpourri.
“Jest the same. Some days better than others.”
A bell sounded.
“That be Miss Adie,” Eula explained, taking Verabelle’s cake. “She wanting to see you, I’m sure.”
“Who’s there?” the frail figure braced by a dark headboard demanded in a surprisingly strong voice as they rounded the corner of the bedroom.
“Miss Verabelle,” Eula announced. “Look what she done brought you.” She put the cake on a side table and set about puffing up pink cotton pillows, raising bones clothed in a blue gown.
It had been such a long time since Verabelle had seen the old lady, that she felt a wave of sympathy shudder through her body. Something akin to tears blurred her eyes, evoking a misty memory of a rather plump figure wearing a straw hat and gardening gloves: Miss Adie hoeing away in her fenced side-yard garden. She used to look up with a bright smile and wave as Verabelle beeped her car horn on passing. And beside her on the weekends and in the early evenings was Doc. Miss Adie, from the wrong side of the tracks, never really part of the town’s social scene, but accepted due to the fact she was the beloved wife of Doc, a privilege that elevated her social status. She had also been his nurse. That is how she met him when he was a young man studying in Atlanta and she was in nursing school. She had never been particularly pretty, but there was always a twinkle in her eyes and a soft glow to her creamy complexion. Why, Doc with his good looks could have had any woman he wanted in Simpsonville or for that matter in Atlanta, but he chose Miss Adie, and they had been a devoted couple. Now, here she was after all these years, a wasted figure lying in her bed with her devoted Eula tending to her every need. Turning her back and swiping quickly at her eyes, Verabelle pulled a chair, its faded seat needle-pointed by the bed’s occupant, closer to the emaciated figure.
“How are you, Miss Adie?” she yelled, sending her voice across an invisible chasm.
“Bring me my glasses, Eula.” The shriveled figure pointed a gnarled finger toward the bedside table. Bifocal-clad eyes like two milky marbles searched the face before her through the glasses Eula adjusted on her. “Changed, but, the eyes . . . Verabelle!” she said in surprise. “Good to see you. How are Will and the children?”
“Fine. All the ladies send their love, too.”
“The ladies.” Miss Adie had looked toward her dresser mirror as if she could see something in it that Verabelle couldn’t. “Still meet first Tuesday of every month?”
Eula raised an eyebrow in surprise. A smile lit up Miss Adie’s face.
Verabelle nodded, amazed that she remembered. She studied Miss Adie’s eyes, like a doll’s penetrating, unblinking stare, not asking anything of her.
“You remember,” she blurted out.
“Remember?” Miss Adie’s sunken cheeks swelled, parting cracked lips over stained, nibbled-down teeth. “I remember whole generations of your family, people you never met, child.”
She watched wrinkles ride over Miss Adie’s face like a never-ending wave.
Remembered and outlived them all.
“Generations,” Miss Adie added. “I recall your birthing. Your Ma had a right tough time; must have labored forty-eight hours. You wouldn’t come, turned wrong; had to twist you round.” She laughed, her chest heaving with the effort. “Out you popped, screaming, your face crimson and black with bruises. Your Pa wouldn’t hardly look at you for fear you would look beaten all your life.”
“She never forget the past,” Eula said under her breath, shaking her head in amazement as she shuffled a pile of papers on the nightstand. She pulled out a nightstand drawer and stacked the papers neatly inside. “She might not remember at first,” she said in a half whisper, “but she know their family history.”
“Do declare, what’s all that?” Verabelle asked.
“Something Miss Adie’s working on,” Eula said, sliding the drawer shut.
“Would you like some lemonade, dear?” Miss Adie asked. “Eula.” She gestured toward the maid.
Eula hustled out of the room, taking the aroma of biscuit dough with her.
“Glad you came,” Miss Adie said. “Town always good.”
“So that’s it, your thank yous?”
“What? Oh, you mean those papers? No, dear,” she added with a sly snicker in her voice. “That’s my book.”
Verabelle sniffled. “Your book?”
“Always meant to write one; never had time.” Her all-knowing eyes peered into Verabelle's. “Lester and I busy with doctoring and all.”
“You have a publisher?”
“A publisher? Child, you must think I’m that woman . . . what’s her name who wrote that book . . . oh, you know, about the war of Northern aggression?”
“Gone with the Wind, you mean?” Verabelle informed, sighing with relief, “by Margaret Mitchell? Then, it’s only for your pleasure,” she started, but their conversation was interrupted by Eula bringing in two diamond-faceted glasses and a plate of cookies.
“Eula’s macaroons. No one makes better, don’t you think?”
“No one,” she agreed, taking the lemonade and a cookie in the linen napkin with the faint scent of mothballs.
When the small, Southern town of Simpsonville, Alabama, loses its favorite doctor, the ladies in town give little thought to his ailing widow, Miss Adie, who also served as his trusted nurse and knew all too well the longtime secrets these women have kept hidden. When Miss Adie’s faithful caretaker, Eula, has an idea for keeping her devoted Miss Adie's dwindling health and memory active againwriting a book that could destroy the lives of the townspeoplethe Ladies Mission Society starts to take action before it's too late!
With unique and engaging voices, the women personally recount their secrets they fear will be exposed in the book, touching on difficult subjects ranging from unexpected death, first heartbreaks, alcoholism, and affairs, as well as moving scenes of rekindled relationships and the importance of friends, family, and faith in their lives, past and present.
Filled with poignancy, charm, and a bit of mysterynot to mention somefineSouthern cooking Secrets of the Ladies Mission Society will have readers cheering through tears as it comes to its extraordinary conclusion.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I came across this book while searching my nook selections for something a little lighter but one that draws you into the story. It surpasses exactly what I was looking for. Loved it & telling all my friends/family to go out buy this book. Now, when it be made into a movie? A big reader of good stories living in WI