Southern Scribe
    our culture of storytelling


Fiction Review    

Ella in Bloom
by Shelby Hearon
Penguin Books, 2000
$13.00 (259 p)
ISBN : 0-14-200088-4

Ella's always been the never-do-well in her family. From an early age, she knew she would never meet her mother's stifling expectations -- rather than try -- Ella followed her impulses eloping with Buddy at the earliest possible opportunity. 

At the age of forty-three, she's a single parent to Robin (named in honor of Ella's sister and nicknamed "Birdie" by her father) and legally widowed. Buddy, who earned his living repossessing boats, left his wife for a wealthy yacht owner. 

Ella has forged a life for herself and her daughter. She earns her living taking care of plants while her wealthy clients travel. Birdie plays the cello for her school orchestra and is trying to save the money to purchase her own instrument by baby and pet sitting. Between them, they've created a cottage industry. Their friend, Karl Krauss, serves as surrogate boyfriend and uncle. 

Ella writes her mother long, newsy, letters about "her" flowers, her house in Metairie, her linen dresses, and her respectable life hoping against hope for acceptance. 

When her sister Terrell dies in a plane crash, family patterns are shattered. Three generations -- Ella's parents, Ella, her brother-in-law Red, and their children -- have to confront love, loss, and expectation. 

Ella in Bloom is Shelby Hearon's most graceful and amiable book to date. 


Pam Kingsbury
Southern Scribe Reviews

2002, Southern Scribe Reviews, All Rights Reserved