“Susan Gregg Gilmore’s smart, gripping and ultimately hopeful tale of love and tough choices in the dark hours before the dawn of the New South rings true and fine. I fell in love with the voice of Bezellia Grove.” — Joshilyn Jackson, New York Times bestselling author of Backseat Saints
Critically acclaimed novelist Susan Gregg Gilmore unravels the striking tale of a young woman’s search for love in the most unlikely of places while fighting against the injustice of her time in the American South.
~ 2010 SIBA Summer OKRA Pick ~
The Improper Life of
By Susan Gregg Gilmore
Author of Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen
Nobody in Nashville has a bigger name to live up to than Bezellia Grove. The name has been passed down for generations to the first daughter born to the eldest Grove, beginning with her ancestor, Bezellia Louise. Legend has it that when the Chickamauga Indians attacked the Nashville settlement where she and her husband had stopped for the night, they killed her husband as he fearlessly fought to protect her. But she grabbed the musket from her dying husband’s hands and continued the fight, killing three Indian warriors before falling on top of her husband’s cold, bloody body. Like her ancestor, Bezellia Grove has always had a rebellious streak.
Though Bezellia leads a life of privilege, living up to her name is far from easy. Her father, who spends long hours at work, is inaccessible. Her mother hides her drinking, but her alcoholism is hardly a secret. Though nothing more than servants in her parents’ eyes, Bezellia’s nanny, Maizelle, and Nathaniel, the family’s handyman, have raised and cared for her since she can remember. But when she has a clandestine romance with Nathaniel’s son, both whites and blacks in the community unite with a hot fury towards the young couple.
As with her acclaimed first novel, Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen (2009 SIBA Book Award nominee), Susan Gregg Gilmore has created another unforgettable heroine in Bezellia. In THE IMPROPER LIFE OF BEZELLIA GROVE (Shaye Areheart Books; August 17, 2010; $23.00), Gilmore takes on a world neatly ordered by status, wealth, and skin color, in which Bezellia becomes a rebel who, while seeking the love her real family has never been able to provide, unearths some secrets and assumptions that many people would rather stay hidden.
Critics have praised Gilmore’s writing as “genuine” (Omaha World-Herald) and “poignant” (Tampa Tribune), and Alan Cheuse, of NPR’s All Things Considered called Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen a “stand-out coming of age novel.” Gilmore’s sophomore novel, THE IMPROPER LIFE OF BEZELLIA GROVE, is a testament to Carolina Moon author Jill McCorkle’s praise of her writing—“storytelling at its best.” She will make you fall in love with her audacious heroine and keep you turning the pages as Bezellia’s adventures unravel.
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SUSAN GREGG GILMORE has written for the Los Angeles Times, the Christian Science Monitor and the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Her first novel Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen was a Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA) 2009 Book Award Nominee. Gilmore’s second novel, The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove (a 2010 SIBA Summer OKRA Pick) was inspired by a real-life chance encounter following her move back to Tennessee. A casual conversation led to a dinner party where she met a Nashville native named Zee—a fifth generation Bezellia! Gilmore currently lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee with her husband and three daughters. For more information, please visit: www.SusanGreggGilmore.com.
**To schedule an interview with Susan Gregg Gilmore,
contact Dennelle Catlett at 212-782-9486 or firstname.lastname@example.org**
The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove By Susan Gregg Gilmore
On-sale: August 17, 2010; Shaye Areheart Books; Hardcover; 256 pages; ISBN: 978-0-307-39503-0; Price: $23.00