I'm a sucker for books about a group of women, and their friendship. Charlotte Connors introduces us to four women in How Dolly Parton Saved My Life: A Novel of the Jelly Jar Sisterhood. These are four women with very little in common when the book starts. It's fun to watch them come together.
Each of the four women has a chance to tell her story, beginning with Josephine (Jo) Vann. Jo is the Junior League wife, mother of two. It's her idea to start a company that caters to her friends. She wants to build a catering business made up of successful, independent women who put families first.
Jo reluctantly takes on a partner, Ellie Howell-Routledge, the wealthy daughter of an African American power family in Atlanta. Ellie, who has twins, thinks Jo is just a little stiff, and doesn't know the real reason for Jo's reluctance to work with her.
Daisy, a single mother, is a renowned pastry chef. She was a teenage mother, and has a math whiz teenage daughter. She's also the one whose role model is Dolly Parton, an independent woman who charges through life with gusto.
And, Cate, who has recently broken up with her boyfriend of eight years, brings her background in interior desing into the company. She'll handle bookings, themes, and decorations.
These four women form Jelly Jar Catering, a company where they can bring kids to work, and be successful. However, it's difficult to build a successful business, and, at times, it's even more difficult to build successful friendships.
How Dolly Parton Saved My Life is a little superficial, and doesn't go into as much detail as most readers would like. In fact, Jo and Ellie, who, as owners of the business, should be the primary characters, are not developed as well as they should be, and their motivations are not always evident. Ellie and her feelings seem to be glossed over at times. Daisy is the saving grace of the entire story. She brings the women together, and she shines as a character. More than any other, it's Daisy I'd like to see more of in any future Jelly Jar Sisterhood novels.
It's an enjoyable book, but with better character development, How Dolly Parton Saved My Life, could be a much stronger book.
How Dolly Parton Saved My Life: A Novel of the Jelly Jar Sisterhood by Charlotte Connors. Broadway Books, ©2008. ISBN 9780767926560 (paperback), 304p.