Southern Belle survives Vermont winter in touching, humorous tale

Of course we all know Southern Belles are tough as nails and can persevere in true steel magnolia fashion. Lisa Patton reminds us of that in her debut novel, “Whistlin’ Dixie in a Nor’Easter.”

“I really, really liked this book,” said Mary Emrick, owner of Turning Pages Books & More in Natchez. “It was so funny. I was looking for a book to make me laugh as there are so many depressing things going on these days.”

Patton’s heroine, Leelee Satterfield, seems to have it all: a gorgeous husband, two adorable daughters and roots in the sunny city of Memphis, Tenn. It’s a shock when her husband wants to uproot the family to run a quaint Vermont inn. Leelee is devastated, and her best friends are outraged, but she makes the move to Vermont to indulge her husband’s dream. After all, how much trouble can it really be to run an inn?

She soon learns that it can be and is a lot of trouble. Not to mention that the glossy photos of Vermont’s bright autumn trees and smiling children in ski suits leaves out the state’s mud season, vampire flies and dangerous ice sheets careening off roofs.

“They spent Leelee’s inheritance from her father to buy the inn, and after only three months her husband runs off with an older, wealthy woman,” Emrick said. “Leelee deals with that betrayal, taking care of her children, running the inn and the differences in Vermont and the South. She turns the inn and her attitude around.”

If that doesn’t sound like a recipe for laughter, Emrick says it is. “If you’re looking for something light to read to make you feel good, I recommend this book,” she said. “As Southern women, we like to laugh at ourselves.”

Publisher’s Weekly had this to say about Patton’s first book, “A plucky debut; a heaping helping of girl power. Patton’s novel delivers on its feel-good moments and inspiring fantasies of finally making it on your own.”

Emrick recommended “Whistlin’ Dixie in a Nor’Easter” as a “book to watch” for the Southern Independent Booksellers Association newsletter and website. She is pleased that Patton’s second novel, “Yankee Doodle Dixie,” is coming out Sept. 13. It will be published in hardback and sell for $24.99. It continues the story of Leelee Satterfield as she returns to Memphis.

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