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, Dollbabyis an audiobook listeners will take to their hearts.
©2014 Laura Lane McNeal (P)2014 Penguin Audio
You know your reading a good book when you float away and picture yourself beside the landmarks described in the story! Laura Lane McNeal is a genius story teller as I was gripped from the first chapter. I loved being able to visualise the characters and the era in which the story was written. Brilliant story with lots of twists and turns and the revelation at the end was so unexpected. You have to read this book!
"Fannie's dark little secret"
Yes, I indeed would. I wasn't sure if I liked the book at first, but it grew on me and became a fantastic novel.
Yes, I would. It was well worth the purchase.
Fannie was fascinating and turned out to be one of the greatest outstanding characters. I would not have named it Doll Baby though Fannie's little dark secret fit it better . Ibby although the main character actually was a supporting character in my opinion.
Yes, of course I enjoyed this book. The setting was very fitting, the narrator was very fitting as well.
Nice novel with a surprising little secret at the end. I never would have guessed and as a writer myself it's often hard to surprise me, well done.
It really puts you in the Old South.
I always enjoy January Lavoy's narration.
It's relatable for anyone who has trouble with her mother.
After reading the reviews and description I had hopes for this book but sadly it didn’t make it. The story isn’t new. Orphaned/unwanted/abandoned/mistreated child is delivered into the hands of an eccentric Southern relative(s) where love grows and the child comes of age under the quiet oversight of the kindly, loyal black house help. It has been told by more skilled word crafters and in the voices of much more developed and memorable characters. That is but one of many issues I have. The book overflows with clichés, the most annoying of which is the ridiculous collection of names. We in the south do, on occasion name people things like Anne and Joe and Elizabeth. You wouldn’t know that from this book. Nor would you know that every African American does not have a colorful (and borderline racist) nickname. There were plot lines that initially caught my interest but they were never developed or were given quick treatment they became irrelevant (Apparently had Atticus Finch given Mayella Ewell a good stern talking to he could have resolved the whole false rape accusation thing in a matter of a chapter) And speaking of Atticus, I wonder how this book sits with African American readers. There are scenes of sit-ins and lip service to the civil rights movement but no evidence any of it---even taking part in it--- impacted of any of the central black characters or changed the way they relate to the whites. Stereotypes are everywhere and the take away lesson is that while we are "family" we still eat in the kitchen. Even the book’s big final reveal manages to evoke a subtle, uncomfortable racism while never actually addressing the racial issues it attempts to challenge. Some of this is bad writing, some bad editing and some just bad ideas. It’s too bad, it could have been an okay book, probably better tailored to a young adult audience. As it is the story has been told many times with a lot more skill.
"Don't miss this one!"
This is a powerful story, well-written. I couldn't stop listening!
It reminds me of THE HELP and Sue Monk Kidd's THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES. Totally engaging, a sense of being in the world the author portrays.
She's a good narrator, with a nice voice and a real talent for accents and inflections.
It touched me very deeply.
"Tale of Old-New Orleans Well Paced"
First off, Doll-Baby is superbly narrated. January LaVoy masterfully adapts her reading to her characters' personalities and origins. This definitely gives the story depth and adds flesh to the bones of the individuals in the tale.
The story itself is good… it holds your interest, but Ms. McNeal often stunts her tale by a too simplistic sentence structure, which leaves the listener hoping for slightly more depth in the thought and personalities of her characters. Ms. LaVoy helps to add gradations of personal qualities which Ms. McNeal often neglects. Hence the three stars for the story itself and the five stars given the performance.
Some listeners may find the characters somewhat stereotyped. But in Ms. McNeal's defense, this seems to be a matter of the depths to which she wished to mine her players' inner life. Also, all of her characters are treated to the same level of development, which does give the story an even literary treatment. In other words, there isn't a lack of development in only some of the characters, there seems to be an overall reliance by Ms. McNeal to have the reader fill in the undefined gaps on all of her characters, while mainly giving a surface development to them all. That said, you do actually get enough grit in the story to get to know the players and to care what happens to them.
If you are interested in a (non-intellectually-taxing,) solid story of a young girl's coming-of-age in unexpected circumstances, you will enjoy Doll-Baby overall, at about that four-star level.
Just don't expect to discover the next Great American Novel.
"Trite story, stereotyped characters"
Good narration but a terrible, trite, melodramatic plot and stereotypical characters. A waste of time unless you like Southern soap opera. Yuck !
"A decent story badly told"
I couldn't get past the first 45 minutes. It's full of canned personalities and paper thin plot lines lifted from better novels.
I'm not sure I trust Audible suggestions after this one.
No. Her voice is pleasing but her style is too dramatic and commercial. I don't enjoy the baby voice treatment for the younger character. It's distracting and irritating.
The characters of Queenie and Baby Doll are poorly written and not the narrator's fault but her reading amplifies the stereotyped dialogue.
It might appeal to a book club for ladies in the 80+ age range who want to read about New Orleans and want an easy read. It is sweet, unchallenging and predictable.
"I Want to Meet All of Them!"
Again...and again...and again! In fact, one i reached the end i wanted to start over. The characters were each so unique and the narration was perfect.
The story itself. It kept giving little surprises. Like each room of the house, each chapter brought a new secret and discovery of it's own.
Subtle differences in her pitch and accent made it easy to recognize which character was speaking. I enjoyed her narration very much.
I don't want to give anything away, but Queenie's reaction to her loss was incredibly moving.
This kind of story makes me want to write a book. It makes me want to travel back to my hometown, wander around... in... and through the little house i grew up in, and write MY story. Maybe i will.....:) Thank you Laura McNeal for a story i will never forget.
"A joy to listen to"
Enter a doorway to another time and place, you'll be sorry when it is over! Wonderful story and fantastic narration, loved this gem!
"Enjoyable but not great."
Yes, this was an interesting story with some well rounded characters. Some the events & characters were predictable but it was still entertaining,
Yes, as an easy read and as long as they are not looking for something deep or socially changing.
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