Dollbaby: A Novel
Laura Lane McNeal
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
A big-hearted coming-of-age debut set in civil rights-era New Orleans—a novel of Southern eccentricity and secrets
When Ibby Bell’s father dies unexpectedly in the summer of 1964, her mother unceremoniously deposits Ibby with her eccentric grandmother Fannie and throws in her father’s urn for good measure. Fannie’s New Orleans house is like no place Ibby has ever been—and Fannie, who has a tendency to end up in the local asylum—is like no one she has ever met. Fortunately, Fannie’s black cook, Queenie, and her smart-mouthed daughter, Dollbaby, take it upon themselves to initiate Ibby into the ways of the South, both its grand traditions and its darkest secrets.
For Fannie’s own family history is fraught with tragedy, hidden behind the closed rooms in her ornate Uptown mansion. It will take Ibby’s arrival to begin to unlock the mysteries there. And it will take Queenie and Dollbaby’s hard-won wisdom to show Ibby that family can sometimes be found in the least expected places.
For fans of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt and The Help, Dollbaby brings to life the charm and unrest of 1960s New Orleans through the eyes of a young girl learning to understand race for the first time.
By turns uplifting and funny, poignant and full of verve, Dollbaby is a novel readers will take to their hearts.
sometimes plastic, but they always look the same—they got their little arms and legs sticking up in the air like they getting ready to pee.” “Is Dollbaby your real name?” “No. It’s Viola, but nobody calls me that, lessen we at church.” Doll stopped in front of a large clapboard center-hall cottage painted the color of strawberry ice cream. A boxwood hedge led up to a raised front porch lined with columns. In the side yard, a towering pecan tree held a swing on its lower branches, the grass
now showing it off.” “How old is Miss Fannie? She old as you?” Doll asked. “No, no. Miss Fannie, she a bit younger, maybe fifty-six last time I took a count.” “That gone make her an old fart in a red Cadillac,” Doll chuckled. “I wouldn’t say nothing like that around Miss Fannie.” Queenie pointed a finger at Doll. “No woman likes to be reminded about her age.” “Queenie, is Ibby home yet?” Fannie called out from the dining room. “She just got here!” Queenie yelled back. “I’ll send her right
at the pool. There was a nice young white fella lifeguarding over there, teaching all the young ones how to swim. Rosie say her grandson really liked this fella ’cause he treat all them real nice, liked to play with the kids in the pool.” “Yeah. So?” “One day, a week or so ago, a bunch of black boys wearing Black Panther T-shirts break into the pool while they there. They go up to this fella, the lifeguard, and ask for money. All the lifeguard got on him is ten dollars. This group, they ain’t
fountain of a lion spewed water. The smell of stale incense lingered in the air. On the upper galleries, sheets and clothing hung from the railings. The place had an eerie feeling. It looked as if everyone had left in a hurry. “Hello! I’m looking for Vidrine Crump!” she hollered. The man in the wire-rimmed glasses appeared behind her. “You scared me,” she said. “I didn’t hear you come in.” Alone with the stranger, she became nervous and fled down the carriageway and back onto the street. It
Birdelia. “Listen, girls, why don’t you go catch yourselves a movie over at the Prytania Theatre? No use hanging around here.” Birdelia waved her hand. “Good idea. Come on, Miss Ibby.” “You run on downstairs, Birdelia. There’s something I want to talk to Miss Ibby about, alone.” As soon as Birdelia left, Doll shut the door. She had a strange look on her face. “Come on over here, Miss Ibby.” Doll sat on the settee across from her sewing machine and pulled a yellow piece of paper from her