Continuing in the exuberant tradition of Six of One, Bingo, and Loose Lips, New York Times bestselling author Rita Mae Brown returns to her much-loved fictional hamlet of Runnymede, whose memorable citizens are welcoming both the end of the Great War and the beginning of a new era.
The night a riot breaks out at the Capitol Theater movie house—during a Mary Pickford picture, no less—you can bet that the Hunsenmeir sisters, Louise and Julia, are nearby. Known locally as Wheezie and Juts, the inimitable, irrepressible, distinctly freethinking sisters and their delightful circle of friends are coming of age in a shifting world—and are determined to understand their place in it. Across town, the well-to-do Chalfonte siblings are preparing for the upcoming wedding of brother Curtis. But for youngest sister Celeste, the celebration brings about a change she never expected and a lesson about love she’ll not soon forget.
Set against the backdrop of America emerging from World War I, Cakewalk is an outrageous and affecting novel about a small town where ideas of sin and virtue, love and sex, men and women, politics and religion, can be as divided as the Mason-Dixon Line that runs right through it—and where there’s no problem that can’t be cured by a good yarn and an even better scotch. With her signature Southern voice, Rita Mae Brown deftly weaves generations of family stories into a spirited patchwork quilt of not-so-simple but joyously rich life.
Praise for Cakewalk
“[Cakewalk] is brimming over with [Rita Mae Brown’s] distinctive Southern voice that infuses every page with merriment, which allows her vibrant characters to take over the story and touch readers’ hearts. Her depictions of the inhabitants and the era are pitch-perfect as are the many subplots. Readers will feel as if they are living in Runnymede; running around with the teenagers, eavesdropping on the matrons planning the annual cakewalk and hiding in the closet of the wealthy families. An utterly delightful story.”—RT Book Reviews
“Brown has said that the Runnymede novels, starting with Six of One, are the ones she was born to write. . . . This is more loving domestic comedy of small-town life when times were simpler. Recommended for fans of Brown and beyond.”—Library Journal
“A delightful romp through small-town America, with all of its gossips and laughs, passions and rivalries, and through it all the importance of the thread of family.”—Historical Novels Review
“A feel-good novel told by an expert storyteller who delights in creating colorful and quirky characters.”—Shelf Awareness
“Two independent and free-thinking sisters, Louise and Julia Hunsenmeir (called Wheezie and Juts), push against the old-fashioned ways of drinking, dancing, and courting. . . . Characters were inspired by Brown’s own mother and sister, adding realism and depth to this uplifting story. Fans of Amy Hill Heath and Mary Kay Andrews will eat up this multigenerational ‘slice-of-life’ novel.”—Booklist
“There seems to be no end to [Rita Mae Brown’s] imagination, inventiveness, or storytelling artistry. . . . What is [Cakewalk] about? Life, love, baseball, war, peace, good whiskey, fashion, sex, religion, friendship–all in a rollicking and lively story that just keeps rolling along at a brisk pace. Ms. Brown paints such vivid scenes. . . . [Cakewalk is] entertaining, outrageous, thought-provoking, nostalgic, and great fun.”—My Merri Way
If you crossed Mitford, North Carolina, with Peyton Place, you might come up with Runnymede, Maryland, the most beguiling of Southern towns. In Loose Lips, Rita Mae Brown revisits Runnymede and the beloved characters introduced in Six of One and Bingo, serving up an exuberant portrayal of small-town sins and Southern mores, set against a backdrop of homefront life during World War II.
"I’m afraid life is passing me by," Louise told her sister.
"No, it’s not," Juts said. "Life can’t pass us by. We are life."
In the picturesque town of Runnymede, everyone knows everyone else’s business, and the madcap antics of the battling Hunsenmeir sisters, Julia (Juts) and Louise, have kept the whole town agog ever since they were children. Now, in the fateful year of 1941, with America headed for war, the sisters are inching toward forty…and Juts is unwise enough to mention that unspeakable reality to her sister.
The result is a huge brawl that litters Cadwalder’s soda fountain with four hundred dollars’ worth of broken glass. To pay the debt, the sisters choose a surprisingly new direction. Suddenly they are joint owners of The Curl ‘n’ Twirl beauty salon, where discriminating ladies meet to be primped, permed, and pampered while dishing the town’s latest dirt.
As Juts and Louise become Runnymede’s most unlikely new career women, each faces her share of obstacles. Restless Juts can’t shake her longing for a baby, while holier-than-thou Louise is fit to be tied over her teenage daughter’s headlong rush toward scandal. As usual, the sisters rarely see eye to eye, and there are plenty of opinions to go around. Even the common bond of patriotic duty brings wildly unexpected results when the twosome joins the Civil Air Patrol, watching the night sky for German Stukas. But loose lips can sink even the closest relationships, and Juts and Louise are about to discover that some things are best left unsaid.
Spanning a decade in the lives of Louise, Juts, and their nearest and dearest, including the incomparable Celeste Chalfonte, Loose Lips is an unforgettable tale of love and loss and the way life can always throw you a curveball. By turns poignant and hilarious, it is deepened by Rita Mae Brown’s unerring insight into the human heart.
In the sequel to her beloved Six of One, Rita Mae Brown returns with another witty tale of passion and rivalry in the small Southern town of Runnymede, Maryland. Newspaper editor Nickel Smith is scrambling to save the local paper from corporate extinction, even as she is engaged in an affair that would shock the town as much as it amazes Nickel herself. Meanwhile, her mother, Julia, and her aunt Louise, the infamous Hunsenmeir sisters, who’ve set the town on its ears for decades, keep an eagle eye on Nickel. No matter that she’s a grown woman and that they’re going on ninety; they need someone to gossip about! Not even the town’s weekly bingo games can keep Louise and Julia out of trouble when Ed Tutweiler Walters, an eligible newcomer, arrives in town—and has the sisters fighting over him like schoolgirls. A telling look at the foibles of modern relationships, Bingo is full of wisdom about the comforts, trials, and absurdities of small-town life and especially of our own nearest and dearest.
Perched right on the Mason-Dixon line, tiny Runnymede, Maryland, is ripe with a history almost as colorful as the women who live there—from Celeste Chalfonte, headstrong and aristocratic, who murders for principle and steals her brother’s wife, to Fannie Jump Creighton, who runs a speakeasy right in her own home when hard times come knocking. Then of course, there’re Louise and Julia, the boldly eccentric Hunsenmeir sisters. Wheezie and Juts spend their whole lives in Runnymede, cheerfully quibbling about everything from men to child-rearing to how to drive a car. But they never let small-town life keep them from chasing their biggest dreams—or from being true to who they really are. Sparkling with a perfect combination of sisterhood and sass, Six of One is a richly textured Southern canvas—Rita Mae Brown “at her winning, fondest best”(Kirkus Reviews).