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Fiction Review   

 

TRUELOVE and Homegrown Tomatoes
By Julie Cannon
Touchstone Book, 2003
Trade paper, $13.00 (288 pages)
ISBN: 0743245881

 

 
 

In life, there’s no substitute for truelove and homegrown tomatoes.  If you settle in love, you are better off with a stove-heated brick to warm your feet.  And there is nothing as tasteless as a store-bought tomato.  Using homespun logic, TRUELOVE and Homegrown Tomatoes shows the ups and downs of finding love in the autumn years.

Imogene and Silas Lavender were childhood sweethearts who had a long loving marriage.  They could not have children, but raised Imo’s younger sister, then that sister’s daughter Lou when the sister died.  They adopted Jeanette, who was a few years older than Lou.  It was a close and loving home, then Silas died of cancer.

His death effected Imo and the girls strongly.  Jeanette without his loving guidance searched for a father figure and ended up with the married manager of the Dairy Queen.  Lou felt that they should keep Silas’s memory alive by keeping everything the same, and God-forbid that Imo remarry – what would happen in Heaven if Imo had two husbands?

Imo’s grief caused her to wake one morning to drive aimlessly from Euharlee, Georgia to Alabama before turning back home.  Martha, the preacher’s wife and Imo’s best friend, knew exactly what she needed – a makeover and a man.  Wanda, a beautician and Martha’s sister, gave Imo advice on husband hunting as she cut and dyed Imo’s gray hair, then she took her shopping for the perfect dress for bait. 

Imo dresses up and heads to Kroger in the next town to follow Wanda’s advice about finding a single man in frozen foods or produce.  The experience proves fruitless.

Martha decides to have Imo test the waters at a farmers meeting at the VFW where Henry Pritchett is promoting a petition.  Imo is hooked because Henry looks like Silas, and Henry makes a beeline to Imo.  He has great vegetable and flower gardens created by his dead wife Truett.  In fact Truett was pretty near perfect, and Henry speaks non-stop of her achievements.  Imo slams the door on this relationship.

Royce Sosebee, a Cherokee friend of Silas, brings Lou home from town one day and offers his help to the family.  He chain smokes and is addicted to Bingo Night, but he is good with the girls and affectionate to Imo.  He was alone during his first heart surgery and would like a family to worry over him this time.  Imo sits in the hospital and nurses him afterward.  However, when she is ill, Royce doesn’t call or send flowers, and can’t be late for Bingo Night.  Imo was used and she knows it.

Then one day in the Wal-Mart parking lot, Imo meets truck farmer Fenton Mabry.  He’s been a widower many years and a gentle romance begins between them.  Fenton knows how to get Lou to accept him into the family.  Soon a wedding is being planned.  Imo has found truelove again.

With the down-to-earth and gentle southern humor reminiscent of Fannie Flagg, Julie Cannon’s debut novel is a must summer read and a great book club pick.

 

Joyce Dixon
Southern Scribe Reviews

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