Book Review: Readings
Jill Conner Browne
Reviewed by Marie Black, Fri., Feb. 23, 2001
God Save the Sweet Potato Queensby Jill Conner Browne
Three Rivers Press, 260 pp., $12.95 (paper)
Jill Conner Browne's The Sweet Potato Queens' Book of Love, which hit shelves in 1999 and has undergone 13 reprints, touted itself as a "Fallen Southern Belle's Look at Love, Life, Men, Marriage, and Being Prepared," and it shouted (in a loud whisper) to the world that Womanhood -- particularly Womanhood with Southern Sensibilities -- does not solely comprise Steel Magnolias who get the vapors every time politics or sex is mentioned. Oh no, it has women who are not afraid to assert their rights as individuals, as divas, as lovers of margaritas. More than earning her role as Queen Sweet Potato Queen, Jill Conner Browne (who has nominated herself the True Boss of Everything) now brings us part two of her literary odyssey, God Save the Sweet Potato Queens.
A brief history interlude: The Sweet Potatoes began their regal journey back in 1982, when as merely Cute Girls, they started meeting their "adoring public" at the annual Mal's St. Paddy Day Parade, in Jackson, Miss. Composed of former Junior League presidents (a jaw-dropping surprise if you've ever met a Deep South Junior Leaguer; think Dallas with more cruel primness) and prominent Jackson businesswomen, the sweeties established themselves as a considerable force and continued to grow throughout the Eighties and Nineties.
Then they decided to conquer the world.
Consequently, Browne gives us essays full of life lessons disguised with great anecdotal aplomb, tales of real poignancy and high, high hilarity. She also dictates the language of the Sweet Potatoes (complete with glossary) which includes such gems as "The Promise," which promises to get any man to do thy bidding. What promise do you have to make? Put it this way: No Southern grandmother worth her weight in pecan pie would ever discuss this with you. But not to worry, the Queens will.