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Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady: A Memoir

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Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady is Florence King's classic memoir of her upbringing in an eccentric Southern family, told with all the uproarious wit and gusto that has made her one of the most admired writers in the country. Florence may have been a disappointment to her Granny, whose dream of rearing a Perfect Southern Lady would never be quite fulfilled. But after Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady is Florence King's classic memoir of her upbringing in an eccentric Southern family, told with all the uproarious wit and gusto that has made her one of the most admired writers in the country. Florence may have been a disappointment to her Granny, whose dream of rearing a Perfect Southern Lady would never be quite fulfilled. But after all, as Florence reminds us, no matter which sex I went to bed with, I never smoked on the street.


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Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady is Florence King's classic memoir of her upbringing in an eccentric Southern family, told with all the uproarious wit and gusto that has made her one of the most admired writers in the country. Florence may have been a disappointment to her Granny, whose dream of rearing a Perfect Southern Lady would never be quite fulfilled. But after Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady is Florence King's classic memoir of her upbringing in an eccentric Southern family, told with all the uproarious wit and gusto that has made her one of the most admired writers in the country. Florence may have been a disappointment to her Granny, whose dream of rearing a Perfect Southern Lady would never be quite fulfilled. But after all, as Florence reminds us, no matter which sex I went to bed with, I never smoked on the street.

30 review for Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    else fine

    I'm not sure what marketing genius decided to saddle this book with a pink floral cover. It's unfortunate and misleading. Once I recommended this book to a soccer-mom type looking for something for her Southern Writers Book Club. I'm not sure what I was thinking. Possibly I was only remembering how hilarious this book is, and how I actually cry with laughing every time I read it (and I'm up to my tenth rereading at this point). Or maybe I remembered the inspirational coming-of-age aspects. I thi I'm not sure what marketing genius decided to saddle this book with a pink floral cover. It's unfortunate and misleading. Once I recommended this book to a soccer-mom type looking for something for her Southern Writers Book Club. I'm not sure what I was thinking. Possibly I was only remembering how hilarious this book is, and how I actually cry with laughing every time I read it (and I'm up to my tenth rereading at this point). Or maybe I remembered the inspirational coming-of-age aspects. I think the flowery cover is what put the finishing touches on my argument and sealed the deal. At any rate, I failed to mention the massive amounts of drinking, swearing, smoking, and sex (lesbian and otherwise), or the fact that Florence King pretty much loathes humanity. It was apparently a little much for the Southern Writers Book Club Ladies, who were, however, too polite to directly complain. They did let me know that they would NOT be taking my recommendations ever again. Alas.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Diane Barnes

    I read this many years ago and loved it because of the humor. This time around, it was just as funny, but I also appreciated the love and respect Florence had for her family, eccentric misfits all. A bookish British father (Herb) who made his living as a musician. A mother who smoked, drank and cussed with the best of them. Granny, determined to make a lady of Florence since she had failed so miserably with her own daughter, and Jenzy, Granny's black best friend who lived with them. Just imagine I read this many years ago and loved it because of the humor. This time around, it was just as funny, but I also appreciated the love and respect Florence had for her family, eccentric misfits all. A bookish British father (Herb) who made his living as a musician. A mother who smoked, drank and cussed with the best of them. Granny, determined to make a lady of Florence since she had failed so miserably with her own daughter, and Jenzy, Granny's black best friend who lived with them. Just imagine this group of people living in Washington, D.C. in the 50's. Just imagine Florence going to graduate school in Mississippi in 1960 and realizing that she was a lesbian. Or just leave your imagination aside, because the scenes in this book are wonderful enough without it. A word of warning to some readers. Florence King is honest about her feelings and her life, in addition to being funny as Hell. So it's guaranteed to be be offensive to many, and it was published in 1985 before political correctness was introduced. Of course, Granny and Jenzy were my favorites in this biography. Granny failed at making Florence a "lady" in the long run, but she kept trying to her dying breath. When Jenzy died, Herb delivered her eulogy, in which he included this quote from Cervantes: "A lady is a woman who is so resolved to be respected that she can make herself so even amidst an army of soldiers". I never heard a better description.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kate Quinn

    I read this book at thirteen, and my world fell into place. No longer did I have to wonder why my loved ones annoyed me, why I didn't want to hang out with friends past a certain point, why I couldn't wrap my mind around the concept of solitary confinement as a punishment. I read "Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady" and realized I was a misanthrope. I've gone on to read everything else published by Florence King, but this book holds a special place. At once an autobiography, a comedy of error I read this book at thirteen, and my world fell into place. No longer did I have to wonder why my loved ones annoyed me, why I didn't want to hang out with friends past a certain point, why I couldn't wrap my mind around the concept of solitary confinement as a punishment. I read "Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady" and realized I was a misanthrope. I've gone on to read everything else published by Florence King, but this book holds a special place. At once an autobiography, a comedy of errors, a coming-of-age tale, and a guidebook to the glorious zaniness that it the South, it follows the story of the author's youth in 40s-50s Maryland. Some episodes are laugh-out-loud hilarious (the description of the Preparation For Marriage courses offered to 50s co-eds) and some are poignant (the shock of losing a first love in a car accident). But a dour independent humor runs throughout, and I found salvation in the idea that I did not necessarily HAVE to like people; that it was fine to be a loner; that it was natural to cast a skeptical eye over the huggy-bear sentimentality that invades so much of American culture. A must-read for all misanthropes and loners.

  4. 4 out of 5

    ALLEN

    If you haven't read anything by Florence King (1936-2016), then it's time you started! And this zesty memoir is the place to begin. It's an amazingly fine and funny book about growing up absurd in Washington, D.C. in the Forties and Fifties. The only child of a British band musician and a take-charge mother, young Florence's life was full of contradictions, rife for comic humor. Her way with dialog alone will have you in stitches. Read about her relation with her brother "Gottapot" (a pun on a c If you haven't read anything by Florence King (1936-2016), then it's time you started! And this zesty memoir is the place to begin. It's an amazingly fine and funny book about growing up absurd in Washington, D.C. in the Forties and Fifties. The only child of a British band musician and a take-charge mother, young Florence's life was full of contradictions, rife for comic humor. Her way with dialog alone will have you in stitches. Read about her relation with her brother "Gottapot" (a pun on a certain Virginia county), her literate father who was accused of reading "John Quincy Shitass" (also known as "The Virgin and the Dynamite") by her business-oriented mother, and the time young Florence almost started a race riot by throwing an Al Capp "Shmoo" doll out the window of their cramped Washington, D.C. flat. And when Florence goes to college and tangles with the military -- well, she was a lady to her fingertips but flunked out of the Service anyway. As King memorably informs us, she may have wound up in bed with a member of her own sex but she never, I repeat NEVER, smoked on the street. Failure was never so much fun as in this amazing work that deserves to be much better known than it is. Florence King is no longer with us, but I hope CONFESSIONS OF A FAILED SOUTHERN LADY (and other works such as SOUTHERN LADIES AND GENTLEMEN and WASP, WHERE IS THY STING?) live forever -- they deserve to.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    Well I did it. I did it just under the wire, but I did it. I found my first five star read for 2019. This was not at all what I was expecting and I loved it for that. It hit that sweet spot of storytelling that’s both out of left field and so well drawn from the ingredients presented that you go along with every word. King is the best memoirist I’ve read next to Patrick Leigh Fermor and his Time Of Gifts. And although they are working with entirely different materials, in entirely different world Well I did it. I did it just under the wire, but I did it. I found my first five star read for 2019. This was not at all what I was expecting and I loved it for that. It hit that sweet spot of storytelling that’s both out of left field and so well drawn from the ingredients presented that you go along with every word. King is the best memoirist I’ve read next to Patrick Leigh Fermor and his Time Of Gifts. And although they are working with entirely different materials, in entirely different worlds and with diametrically opposed tones, I saw the same kind of artistry and the same mischievous, sharp minds behind each of their stories. King is by far the more honest of the two though. Fermor paints a fantasy made of allusion and half-memory and wishing, King is brutal and never spares using a word right in your face, even when you wish she would. But it’s all in the service of finding just a few truths she’s been trying all her life to say in just the right way. And also it is *hilarious* in just the dry, speak for itself way that I Iike on almost every page. She spent some time spinning these yarns to get them to roll out as smooth as this and man was it worth it. And in between all of that there are moments of shocking sadness and sweetness that arise seemingly out of nowhere, out of the most unlikely people, ones she’s deconstructed and made fun of and yet still manages to reach with human eyes in spite of that. She lived when she lived and of course *where* she lived and had to make the best of what she found- which often wasn’t much (just like Fermor also, come to think of it, except with racist Southerners instead of brutal schoolmasters and Nazis). The problem I have with so many memoirs is that I think they pull their punches and soften moments that should be the sharpest, they pull away the mirror when it needs to be there the most. Fermor did it so artfully I loved him anyway. Others, not so much. Even Jia Tolentino’s collection, which I adored some pieces of, did this in the personal stuff. And I get it. It’s hard. But King stared it down pretty unflinchingly, and never made me feel like she dodged the hardballs she flung at herself. And for that, I’ll never forget her.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Smalter Hall

    I LOVED Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady! I seriously considered giving this one five stars -- this was one of those rare instances when half-star ratings would have come in really handy. So I differ from Florence King philosophically on several points (e.g. I'm neither a Monarchist nor a Republican), but you don't necessarily have to agree with someone to appreciate her, right? King is one of the most hilarious and titillating authors I have ever read, and she is unapologetic about her femin I LOVED Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady! I seriously considered giving this one five stars -- this was one of those rare instances when half-star ratings would have come in really handy. So I differ from Florence King philosophically on several points (e.g. I'm neither a Monarchist nor a Republican), but you don't necessarily have to agree with someone to appreciate her, right? King is one of the most hilarious and titillating authors I have ever read, and she is unapologetic about her feminist viewpoints. Which always sends my heart into palpitations. I love it when King interrupts herself during a totally comic episode to throw down a razor-sharp feminist critique. Being a highly intelligent and ambitious woman seeking academic accolades in 1960s Mississippi, King had many such critiques! Ah, and then she falls in love. . . and her razor-sharp tongue turns to mush. King's recantation of falling in love with Bres, the beautiful but aloof queen of the Classics Department, is so sincere, astonishing and beautiful ~ it really speaks to how love can transform even the most curmudgeonly among us. My only complaints about King's style are that every once in awhile the comic tone falls a little flat, and some of the character types are too broadly drawn. Hmmm, not to mention the floral 1980s Nora-Roberts-esque cover art. Although who knows, maybe you enjoy telling people that you're reading a smutty romance novel. (Oh, did I not mention the smuttiness?) Add "brilliant feminist critique" to the description and that pretty much sums it up!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

    I thoroughly enjoyed this memoir by King. I laughed so hard at Granny and Jensy's descriptions of obstetrical hell that I nearly wet myself. Having lived a good portion of my early life in the south I am completely familiar with the phenomena of people coming to "stay awhile" and not departing for months/years so that also rang very true for me as well. Thanks for the opportunity to read this kayters...I really enjyed it. I thoroughly enjoyed this memoir by King. I laughed so hard at Granny and Jensy's descriptions of obstetrical hell that I nearly wet myself. Having lived a good portion of my early life in the south I am completely familiar with the phenomena of people coming to "stay awhile" and not departing for months/years so that also rang very true for me as well. Thanks for the opportunity to read this kayters...I really enjyed it.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Autumn

    To this day, I am liable to call a boring, conventional lady a 'malkin' in my head or to think 'those who study Greek must take pains with dress' when I'm at a library convention. Thanks for keeping it real, Florence! To this day, I am liable to call a boring, conventional lady a 'malkin' in my head or to think 'those who study Greek must take pains with dress' when I'm at a library convention. Thanks for keeping it real, Florence!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lucy

    This book is a testament to why we need to have shops. I know it’s so much easier to buy a book with one click on Amazon but you can never replace the joy of perusing a book shop’s crammed shelves and coming across a book that you had not heard of. The cover and the testimonials sell it to you, this is what happened to me, whilst checking out the books in our fav book shop, ‘Gays The Word’ in Russell Square I came across this classic. Yesterday I spent pretty much the whole day devouring it, almo This book is a testament to why we need to have shops. I know it’s so much easier to buy a book with one click on Amazon but you can never replace the joy of perusing a book shop’s crammed shelves and coming across a book that you had not heard of. The cover and the testimonials sell it to you, this is what happened to me, whilst checking out the books in our fav book shop, ‘Gays The Word’ in Russell Square I came across this classic. Yesterday I spent pretty much the whole day devouring it, almost in one sitting (I never do this). Liz was asking what we would like to do with the day and do you know I just wanted to hang out in Florence’s world, which let me tell you is a pretty interesting place to reside. Born to a chain smoking mother and very intelligent bookish English father she was off to a very interesting start. Then throw in a Grandmother, who was obsessed with gynecology and her ancestry and you have the makings of a classic. This is set in the ‘deep south’ of America, an area I know nothing of really, except what you see on the TV. Florence brought it to life, the characters are so real, you feel by the end of the book that you actually know them. Her tale is one of being different in her world, right from the start but not really knowing why, and this isn’t just due to the fact that she becomes a lesbian. She is different in lots of ways, her father has educated her well before her years, and she is used to being with adults, so when she is thrown into kindergarten it is a hell on earth for her. I won’t spoil the book but all I can say is, it had me gripped from the start, is hilarious in places and also, very poignant! Go out and get yourself a copy today!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jo

    I can't do this book justice in an off-the-cuff review. It is too perfect. Maybe when I have more time. Buy an old (first published 1985, I think) copy if possible, as the cover will be one of several delightfully sleazy-looking designs, and everyone on the train will think you are reading a harlequin romance novel. I can't do this book justice in an off-the-cuff review. It is too perfect. Maybe when I have more time. Buy an old (first published 1985, I think) copy if possible, as the cover will be one of several delightfully sleazy-looking designs, and everyone on the train will think you are reading a harlequin romance novel.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Grady Hendrix

    Someone needs to build a statue of Florence King.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Gail

    Florence gives us a picture of growing up in the south (well, in Virginia near D.C.) that's kind of funny and gets more interesting as the book progresses. But Flarnz (as it's pronounced in the deep south) really gets on a roll when she goes to grad school at U. of Mississippi. The monlogues of southern women, with appropriate pronounciations, are hilarious and so true to life that one laughs out loud...and is irresisitably drawn to share them with others. On a slightly more serious side, King's Florence gives us a picture of growing up in the south (well, in Virginia near D.C.) that's kind of funny and gets more interesting as the book progresses. But Flarnz (as it's pronounced in the deep south) really gets on a roll when she goes to grad school at U. of Mississippi. The monlogues of southern women, with appropriate pronounciations, are hilarious and so true to life that one laughs out loud...and is irresisitably drawn to share them with others. On a slightly more serious side, King's depiction of her awareness of her sexuality are sympathetic and interesting. Not for the faint of heart.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Nicky Wheeler-Nicholson

    This is one of the most brilliant and funniest books ever written about being a southern woman. It is purportedly the autobiography of Florence King. I say purportedly because who knows how accurate the details are. It doesn't matter because the truth is in the telling. There are so many great one liners in it that it's impossible to have a favorite although I'd say that "Like charity, schizophrenia begins at home," is a pretty good start. I bought a paperback edition in London when I was dealin This is one of the most brilliant and funniest books ever written about being a southern woman. It is purportedly the autobiography of Florence King. I say purportedly because who knows how accurate the details are. It doesn't matter because the truth is in the telling. There are so many great one liners in it that it's impossible to have a favorite although I'd say that "Like charity, schizophrenia begins at home," is a pretty good start. I bought a paperback edition in London when I was dealing with a dying relative and the attendant family nuts. This book helped me get through it all with a minimum of fuss.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    I read this book in college, and even though I'm not a Southern lady, King's story of coming of age and coming into her identity as a lesbian in the South in the 1940's and 50's is so roll-on-the-floor hilarious that I related to every page. This book is a triumphant shout out to being who you really are, despite having a crazy family. I read this book in college, and even though I'm not a Southern lady, King's story of coming of age and coming into her identity as a lesbian in the South in the 1940's and 50's is so roll-on-the-floor hilarious that I related to every page. This book is a triumphant shout out to being who you really are, despite having a crazy family.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Janis Ian

    I am forever grateful to Beth Flood, who handed me this and "Southern Ladies and Gentlemen" when I first moved to Nashville from LA and told me I'd learn more about my new culture and home from them than I'd learn in a hundred years by myself. These books have saved me from abject humiliation on more than one occasion, and been a light in the darkness on many others. I am forever grateful to Beth Flood, who handed me this and "Southern Ladies and Gentlemen" when I first moved to Nashville from LA and told me I'd learn more about my new culture and home from them than I'd learn in a hundred years by myself. These books have saved me from abject humiliation on more than one occasion, and been a light in the darkness on many others.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Wes

    I'm loathe to admit how much I enjoyed this, seeing that Southern humor is something I actively avoid. Somehow, though, King won me over. She manages to paint the lives of herself and those around her in a way that employs a certain element of caricature without becoming schtick or saccharine. I'm loathe to admit how much I enjoyed this, seeing that Southern humor is something I actively avoid. Somehow, though, King won me over. She manages to paint the lives of herself and those around her in a way that employs a certain element of caricature without becoming schtick or saccharine.

  17. 5 out of 5

    sassafrass

    Parts of this were touching, but I'm not sure whether it was the gulf of time, the literal gulf of the ocean, or the fact Florence admitted to liking Ayn Rand that just would not allow me to connect with a lot of this. I should have learnt by now, after the Anne Lister debacle, that looking up historical gays in an effort to find some sort of chain of unity is always a mistake and leads only to irritation. The only exception is Sappho, and that's because we're missing 90% of it. Parts of this were touching, but I'm not sure whether it was the gulf of time, the literal gulf of the ocean, or the fact Florence admitted to liking Ayn Rand that just would not allow me to connect with a lot of this. I should have learnt by now, after the Anne Lister debacle, that looking up historical gays in an effort to find some sort of chain of unity is always a mistake and leads only to irritation. The only exception is Sappho, and that's because we're missing 90% of it.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Joanna Doherty Salone

    One of the funniest, laugh out loud books I have ever read. When I read I like to mark the funny or interesting quotes I find, and by the end of the novel I had bookmarks everywhere, like I was studying it. Ms. King's ability to describe the Southern experience is like no other. Her point of view from being an outsider, raised in a household which was unconventional at the time, and growing up only around adults provides such a unique perspective. Her trying to find her place in a world in which One of the funniest, laugh out loud books I have ever read. When I read I like to mark the funny or interesting quotes I find, and by the end of the novel I had bookmarks everywhere, like I was studying it. Ms. King's ability to describe the Southern experience is like no other. Her point of view from being an outsider, raised in a household which was unconventional at the time, and growing up only around adults provides such a unique perspective. Her trying to find her place in a world in which she doesn't seem to fit in is a theme common to so many, but seemed to be quite taboo at the time. She was a unique person in a world where everyone was expected to fit into a mold and not question it or the world around them. Women had their place, blacks had their place, gay people had their place, and "that's just the way it was". But not for her. She refused to be a cookie-cutter woman and instead explored all aspects of religion, education, sexuality and careers. Coming from the atypical family that she did probably influenced and paved the way for her even though she may not have realized it. She was a woman who seemed to be born in the wrong time, yet she paved the way for the women of today. At first her hatred of femininity and men was off-putting, but then I started to see those attitudes were all part of her journey to find herself. I think because I related to parts of her character I expected her to go in a different direction, like I would. But that's the point, she showed how no two people are the same. Even when she found people to relate to, no one person was an exact mirror of her. And that's how it should be. We are individuals and although we may find some fascinating people along the way no one will be exactly like us and do things exactly the way we would do them. And that's ok. We can understand and connect with someone on one level but then completely disagree with them about something else. That doesn't make them any less of a friend, parent, teacher or significant other. We learn something from them all which is why diversity should be celebrated. I happened to read this book at a time when tensions are high in our country over race relations, sexual orientation and religion, which made it even more poignant. When you look at not just the most prevalent instances of discrimination, but the things that occurred in everyday life at that time, you realize how far we've really come. No one should ever have to live in fear and loneliness because of their personality, sexuality, gender, religion or skin color. We've made such strides in this country because we have the freedom to do so and we should never take that for granted. We should also never take for granted the women and men who have gone before us, making all of this possible and having to live through times of such discrimination. As a woman, reading about the short list of options for a woman with education, careers and lifestyle made me really appreciate the life and freedoms I now have. My education wasn't limited to certain options, I could attend any college and have any major I wanted. I can be single in my thirties and not be whispered about or considered a spinster or old maid. My femininity is not connected to being intellectual, having an education or having a job. And I would imagine many who could relate would feel the same with "the way things were" for blacks and gay people in those times. I don't have to ask permission for a black person to live with me. I can stay over at a female friend's house and it's not considered improper. Imagine having to tiptoe around like that for these simple everyday things. At the same time, interracial marriages and gay relationships still do get a lot of hate and sometimes even violence directed at them. We still have some work to do, but we're getting there. While we are celebrating and mourning everything going on in our country today, let us not forget where we came from, how hard people had to work to get where we are today, and make an effort to view everyone through different eyes, remembering they may have a completely different set of circumstances and upbringing than we do because no one is exactly like us. Ms. King found a way to report the signs of the times in a way that shows the ugliness that existed but still allows us to celebrate our Southern heritage of strong women and people who fought for the civil rights of all. And we can all agree that drinking in Mississippi is a right we all should have.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Yaaresse

    My favorite misanthrope and southern cultural anthropologist. Many years ago, my west coast born husband, out of sheer boredom, plucked King's Southern Ladies and Gentlemen from my collection. Two days later, he closed the book, gave me a long look, and said, "This explains everything." By "everything," he meant my sister's convoluted and hyperventilating conversations, stories I'd told him about growing up in the south, certain cultural references that he felt required translation, and various My favorite misanthrope and southern cultural anthropologist. Many years ago, my west coast born husband, out of sheer boredom, plucked King's Southern Ladies and Gentlemen from my collection. Two days later, he closed the book, gave me a long look, and said, "This explains everything." By "everything," he meant my sister's convoluted and hyperventilating conversations, stories I'd told him about growing up in the south, certain cultural references that he felt required translation, and various turns of speech. It may have also meant some of my quirks that he is too much of a gentleman to mention specifically. I'll have to inform him that he was mistaken. That book only explained most everything. This one covers the rest, including the fixation on silverware, Venus versus virgin versus virago, and southern lesbian culture. (Didn't we all have the Darcy Sisters somewhere in the extended family tree?) King is irreverent, smart, absolutely non-PC, alternates between profundity and profanity with whiplash speed, and funny as hell. Although written in 1985, there's not much in here that doesn't still hold water.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Nora

    When Florence King is funny, she's hysterically funny. There are places (the scene where she gets her diaphragm, for instance) where I had to put down the book because I was laughing so hard. She doesn't always reach that level of hilariousness, and sometimes I found myself wondering if she weren't exaggerating the Southern Gothic characters around her for effect (I must confess here that I've never lived farther south than Washington, D.C., so perhaps I'm reading this as a Yankee and would reco When Florence King is funny, she's hysterically funny. There are places (the scene where she gets her diaphragm, for instance) where I had to put down the book because I was laughing so hard. She doesn't always reach that level of hilariousness, and sometimes I found myself wondering if she weren't exaggerating the Southern Gothic characters around her for effect (I must confess here that I've never lived farther south than Washington, D.C., so perhaps I'm reading this as a Yankee and would recognize these characters if I spent time in the South), but she's on much more often than she's off, and the book is a delight to read. Her descriptions of her time at Ol' Miss, the dawning of her sex life, and the battle between her grandmother and her great aunt to determine whether a particular lady's problems are due to mental breakdowns or "female troubles" are worth the price of admission by themselves.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Morganelle

    I just re-read this book after first encountering it in my Southern Women Writers course. In one sentence, I'd say this book is about Florence King's experience becoming her own woman in a culture that has a lot of expectations about what a woman should be. If I had another sentence, I'd add that this book is hilarious and bawdy and perfect for anyone who has ever felt like an outsider. The first time around, the hilarious descriptions of Southern culture struck me most. This time, I still laughe I just re-read this book after first encountering it in my Southern Women Writers course. In one sentence, I'd say this book is about Florence King's experience becoming her own woman in a culture that has a lot of expectations about what a woman should be. If I had another sentence, I'd add that this book is hilarious and bawdy and perfect for anyone who has ever felt like an outsider. The first time around, the hilarious descriptions of Southern culture struck me most. This time, I still laughed out loud throughout the book, but I was also more impressed by King's process of becoming and understanding herself than I'd been before. Her sexuality, her Ayn Rand-ian leanings often make her the outsider, but she comes to a loving, eyes-open peace with the people and culture around her.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Keli

    Synopsis- Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady" is Florence King's classic memoir of her upbringing in an eccentric Southern family, told with all the uproarious wit and gusto that has made her one of the most admired writers in the country. Florence may have been a disapointment to her Granny, whose dream of rearing a Perfect Southern Lady would never quite be fulfilled. But after all, as Florence reminds us, "no matter which sex I went to bed with, I never smoke on the street. Review- I ordere Synopsis- Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady" is Florence King's classic memoir of her upbringing in an eccentric Southern family, told with all the uproarious wit and gusto that has made her one of the most admired writers in the country. Florence may have been a disapointment to her Granny, whose dream of rearing a Perfect Southern Lady would never quite be fulfilled. But after all, as Florence reminds us, "no matter which sex I went to bed with, I never smoke on the street. Review- I ordered this from my local indie bookstore the year they opened, like 2009 or 2010, because my fave author said she loved this book. As soon as I got it, like many of my books, I admired it on a shelf. It looked great. Over the next decade, I took it down periodically and put it in my "tbr" pile, only to replace it back on the shelf. I don't know why it took me so long to read it, Lilith Saintcrow sang its praises and Sandi Toksvig wrote the intro in my edition. But I failed to ever crack the spine, until now. 2021 is my year to read all those dozens of books that I've bought or borrowed but never read only admired. And let me tell you, 2021 is starting with a doozy because this was fab. It made me laugh, think and even shed a little tear. It was a very different look at White Southern 1950s female life than I've ever seen or read. As a mixed race 1990s Southern female feminist, it gave me a lot of food for thought. It also made me so happy at how far we've come, but cognizant of how far we still have to go. Rating- Four virago strong stars⭐⭐⭐⭐ ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ - Devoured the book, couldn't put it down. ⭐⭐⭐⭐ - Really liked it, consumed within days ⭐⭐⭐ - Enjoyed a fair bit, better than average ⭐⭐ - Meh ⭐ - Absolute drivel

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    I loved this book. One of the few that made me literally laugh out loud.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Phrodrick

    Florence King’s Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady is not for the swear word squeamish. She can be very blunt on the subject of sex and upfront about her personal flexibility with regards to her sexual activity. That said Ms King writes in her voice and in her style and is every bit her own woman. I am glad I read this book and can recommend it to anyone with the gumption to share a book with an independent mind with a sharp pen. That said I get the feeling she does not like many people and I Florence King’s Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady is not for the swear word squeamish. She can be very blunt on the subject of sex and upfront about her personal flexibility with regards to her sexual activity. That said Ms King writes in her voice and in her style and is every bit her own woman. I am glad I read this book and can recommend it to anyone with the gumption to share a book with an independent mind with a sharp pen. That said I get the feeling she does not like many people and I am uncertain if I want to read more widely from her shelf. Florance King’s confession is in the tradition of many books about how awkward it can be to grow up a woman. Her childhood seems to have been one of polite poverty, with a hard smoking baseball loving mother, a bookish, itinerate musician father and a grandmother more loaded with superstitions and arbitrary prejudices than good sense. For all this they are a good family and provide for the growth and education of their one daughter. But what of this daughter? Having spent her earliest years is mostly social isolation and under expectations to relate to adults at their level; she instantly rejects her fellow children as “watery moles”. Likewise she will class her teachers as huggy bears and continue to heap instant judgements on people. One can sympathize with many of her judgements. They are not so much wrong as they are excuses for her to avoid getting along with others or making friends. She is equipped with a huge amount of self-motivation. It is fair to notice that other people can also get in the way of the young girl later young woman who has definite ideas about what her priorities are. Huggy bears and watery moles are not going to be of use to her. Early in Confessions I found myself not only laughing aloud, but rereading parts to my wife. She will also be reading the book. Later on as Ms King enters her adult life, the tone becomes more earnest. There is more honesty about herself and the larger world. What does not end is the speed with which she judges people. I respect Ms King. She writes well and perhaps is as unsparing of herself as other. My sense is that she does not like people any more than she likes watery moles. I am glad I read Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady. I am not sure I want to listen to her complain about all the people she will come to dislike

  25. 4 out of 5

    Karmon

    I usually avoid autobiographies and memoirs -- something about the ego involved in writing one puts me off. This book is an exception, perhaps it is as much about the women in Ms. King's life as it is about the author. The book is humorous, many of the stories have the tone and timing of often-told oral tales. The last quarter of the book focuses on King's coming out, which is handled with the same tone (but perhaps less) humor than the rest of the book. Her exploration of the "Southern lady" ta I usually avoid autobiographies and memoirs -- something about the ego involved in writing one puts me off. This book is an exception, perhaps it is as much about the women in Ms. King's life as it is about the author. The book is humorous, many of the stories have the tone and timing of often-told oral tales. The last quarter of the book focuses on King's coming out, which is handled with the same tone (but perhaps less) humor than the rest of the book. Her exploration of the "Southern lady" takes on an almost anthropological. Almost. Nonetheless, it leads the reader to think about both the terms. Regardless of the exasperation the author feels for these strong women (and her father), it is also clear she feels affection and respect for them.

  26. 5 out of 5

    E

    When Florence King died a few weeks ago, this is the book everyone recommended to read first (I was only familiar with her work in National Review). It did not disappoint. She has a way with words that gently poked (great) fun at her southern upbringing while simultaneously expressing great love for her parents and grandmother. And while I could never commend her sexual ethic, her dispatches from the field of romance were, again, riotously funny while yet still touching. And her descriptions of When Florence King died a few weeks ago, this is the book everyone recommended to read first (I was only familiar with her work in National Review). It did not disappoint. She has a way with words that gently poked (great) fun at her southern upbringing while simultaneously expressing great love for her parents and grandmother. And while I could never commend her sexual ethic, her dispatches from the field of romance were, again, riotously funny while yet still touching. And her descriptions of her "misanthropic" personality, and everyday troubles it caused, certainly found a sympathetic ear with me. Any fan of King's NR work will love this book.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Peter Tillman

    Amazing book. I must have some notes, probably in an (unindexed!) paper journal. Remember those? How did we live without computers? A good preview: “No matter which sex I went to bed with, I never smoked on the street” ― Florence King, Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady I wish I could find the one about the lady who came to call, Flo offered wine-in-a-box. Lady turns up nose. Momma said, if the hostess offers gall & wormwood, by God you drink it!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sage

    Some interesting insights, and I appreciate the candour at least. It just left me cold in the end, nowhere near as witty as was billed on the front cover. Might have smirked a couple of times but certainly didn't laugh out loud (and in broad terms it is my kind of humour). Maybe I missed something by not being American, or of that era; but good writing should trancend that. Some interesting insights, and I appreciate the candour at least. It just left me cold in the end, nowhere near as witty as was billed on the front cover. Might have smirked a couple of times but certainly didn't laugh out loud (and in broad terms it is my kind of humour). Maybe I missed something by not being American, or of that era; but good writing should trancend that.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Katie Havard

    Andy Ferguson was right about Florence King: "She put sentences on the page the way a gifted gymnast swings her body over a pommel horse or along the parallel bars: invisible effort in service of sheer delight." Also this book is filthy and funny as hell. Andy Ferguson was right about Florence King: "She put sentences on the page the way a gifted gymnast swings her body over a pommel horse or along the parallel bars: invisible effort in service of sheer delight." Also this book is filthy and funny as hell.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Loe

    If you like to laugh out loud as you read, this book is for you

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