Whoever thought that three middle-aged women from rural Indiana could steal your heart? But that’s exactly what happens when you meet Odette, Clarice, and Barbara Jean. These lifelong friends grew up together suffering, and just as often ignoring, the indignities of poverty and racial segregation. They survive and thrive because they have each other and share the touchstone that is Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat café.
It is at Earl’s where the Supremes (as they are known), meet, share stories and confidences, and interact with others who are regulars of the café. It’s within this microcosm that their lives unfold; harkening back to the past and returning to the present over and over like the waves of the sea.
The indisputable leader of this trio is Odette who was, strangely, born in a Sycamore tree, which seems to imbue her with a special inner strength that is recognized by all within her orbit and who lean on her support. Happily, Odette has help — namely the occasional appearance of her deceased mother, and her mother’s friend, Eleanor Roosevelt (yes, that Eleanor!). These spirits come to Odette to give advice, and just as often, to annoy her.
This lovely novel will find a home in every reader’s heart with its portrait of the moments in life that are universal and cherished. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself slowing down near the end of the book; you won’t want to say goodbye. Happily recommended for all book clubs — especially those that include women of a “certain age.”
Knopf/Random House; ISBN 978-0-307-95043-7; $15.