Thursday, December 29, 2011

Sweet Tea and Jesus Shoes

The collection of stories called Sweet Tea and Jesus Shoes has tantalized me for years, but no library I worked at owned the book, and I didn’t know enough of the authors in it to buy it. But, when the publisher sent me a note saying it was free for Kindle for a short time, I scooped it up. I am a big fan of Deborah Smith, one of the authors. I enjoy her books, and loved Sweet Hush. And, Donna Ball is an author I discovered this year, the author of one of my favorite books of 2011, Keys to the Castle. So, now I had the perfect opportunity to accept their invitation to sit on the porch and listen to some Southern storytellers.

Every one of the women who contributed stories to this collection can sweep the reader down south. Sandra Chastain’s “The Jesus Shoes” takes readers to Vacation Bible School where a little girl learns a big lesson. And, then there’s the lesson about interrupting Grandmother during her soap opera, as shown in Virginia Ellis’ “No More Mickey Mouse.” Deborah Smith, Debra Dixon and Nancy Knight also tell stories of family, food, and animals, stories you could imagine being told on some porch as family gathers. But, two of Donna Ball’s stories stood out, “Storytelling” and “Fingerprints.” And, “Fingerprints” exemplifies the entire spirit of the book, Southern roots, family, food, and tradition. It’s the story of a family that honors tradition and the elders, while teaching new family members the legends, and bringing them into the fold.

If you want some of that Southern cooking to go with the stories, recipes are included for everything from sweet tea to fried chicken. These authors know how to tell a story, how to carry a reader into the South, into a family. If you enjoy Southern stories, Southern life, and some time on the porch with sweet tea, you just might want to pick up a copy of Sweet Tea and Jesus Shoes.

(Note – And, you might want to try Deborah Smith’s Sweet Hush and Donna Ball’s Keys to the Castle, two of my favorite books.

Bellebooks' website is

Sweet Tea and Jesus Shoes by Deborah Smith, et al. Bellebooks, Incorporated, ©2000. ISBN 9780967303505 (paperback), 192p.

FTC Full Disclosure – This was free on Kindle.


Rosemary said...

Lesa, I have just been reading an essay by Flannery O'Conner in which she berates entrants to a short story class at the Southern Writers Conference for using no idiom. "there was no distinctive sense of Southern life in them......the great advantage of being a Southern writer is that we don't have to go anywhere to look for manners.........We in the South live in a society that is rich in contradiction, rich in irony, rich in contrast, and particularly rich in its speech.'

This made me curious to read something 'southern', so I am so pleased that you have recommended this book, which I will look out for (although sadly we don't seem to have as many free Kindle books as you get in the US).


Rosemary said...

I take it all back, Lesa - have just found it free on Amazon and have downloaded it before they put the price up.


Lesa said...

Great, Rosemary! I'm glad you were able to find the book. There's definitely a taste of the South in this one, if you want my opinion. I'll be interested to see what you think.

Inside A Book said...

Thanks for sharing! I downloaded it to my android right away. Now I have the perfect book for those waiting moments.

I always love the things you lead me to!!

PS. I am reading Connie Willis' Miracle and Other Christmas Stories right now. Thanks for great recommendations!

Beth Hoffman said...

I read this collection last year and enjoyed the stories very much. Lovely review, Lesa!

Lesa said...

You're welcome, Jill! What a nice comment, that you're enjoying the recommendations. Thank you!

Lesa said...

Beth, I thought of you the entire time I wrote the review, and wondered if you had read it. It seemed to have just the type of stories you might enjoy.

cd sutton said...

Nice review of this book. I'm sure it will draw some readers.

Lesa said...

Thank you, CD Sutton.

Rosemary said...

Hi Lesa,

I started Sweet Tea in bed this morning and didn't get up for some time! I don't usually get on too well with short stories - so many of them are just depressing and don't seem to be real stories, if you know what I mean - but these are just great. I love the way that they have such good plots - in each one so far i have wanted to know what happened - plus all the fascinating details about southern life. The bit about the ladies bringing their Campbell's soup tins with them to the crocheting session "because it's impolite to spit on the floor", for example, was priceless.

Haven't been able to get back to the Kindle to finish the book yet, but have a 4 hour car journey tomorrow so will make sure to take it with me then. I've recommended the book to my friends on another US book site that I've belonged to for some time, and one of them is already planning to read it. Isn't it great how we can all connect in this way?

In the meantime I am trying to submit my Open University assignment on-line and I can't even get into the site so far.....serves me right for leaving everything to the last minute.

Have a good day,


Rosemary said...

Lesa, this morning I posted another comment and it has disappeared into the ether. Could have been something to do with Lizzie parading herself on my lap whilst I was trying to type...

What I wanted to say was that I started this book in bed this morning and it is great. I don't usually get very far with collections of short stories, but I love the fact that these ones really are stories, not just some depressing meander - the plots had me wanting to know what happened, and I loved all the Southern details - fascinating. I've recommended it on another US book site of which I have been a member for some time, and at least one person is already planning to read it - it's so nice that we can connect around the world like this.

Thanks so much for not only recommending the book but also alerting us to its free status,


Tina said...

Lesa, thanks so much for such a great post christmas present. I found this free on Amazon, just downloaded to the kindle, and am looking forward to settling into some good southern reading. I love the southern writers, and especially like good short stories.

Happy New Year to you and thank you thank you.

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