Dollbaby: A Novel
Laura Lane McNeal
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
A big-hearted coming-of-age debut set in civil rights-era New Orleans—a novel of Southern eccentricity and secrets
When Ibby Bell’s father dies unexpectedly in the summer of 1964, her mother unceremoniously deposits Ibby with her eccentric grandmother Fannie and throws in her father’s urn for good measure. Fannie’s New Orleans house is like no place Ibby has ever been—and Fannie, who has a tendency to end up in the local asylum—is like no one she has ever met. Fortunately, Fannie’s black cook, Queenie, and her smart-mouthed daughter, Dollbaby, take it upon themselves to initiate Ibby into the ways of the South, both its grand traditions and its darkest secrets.
For Fannie’s own family history is fraught with tragedy, hidden behind the closed rooms in her ornate Uptown mansion. It will take Ibby’s arrival to begin to unlock the mysteries there. And it will take Queenie and Dollbaby’s hard-won wisdom to show Ibby that family can sometimes be found in the least expected places.
For fans of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt and The Help, Dollbaby brings to life the charm and unrest of 1960s New Orleans through the eyes of a young girl learning to understand race for the first time.
By turns uplifting and funny, poignant and full of verve, Dollbaby is a novel readers will take to their hearts.
might not be so lucky the next time. That’s what all the fussing was about. But Doll couldn’t help the way she felt, like a seed buried in the wrong kind of soil. Maybe her mother was right. But that seed inside her was ripe, and it was ready to burst open any minute, no matter what her mother said. Queenie raised her eyes. “I see you over there thinking, like I don’t know what I’m talking about. But you’re wrong, baby. I’m just trying to save you all the trouble. Now go on and fetch that sack
onto the street. After a while, she handed Ibby an envelope. “Here. This came for you today.” Ibby noticed the envelope had been opened. “I know I had no right to open it, but I was afraid after what Mr. Rainold told me this morning that it might have been from your mother. It’s not.” Ibby slid the card from the envelope, admiring the blue linen paper with the white embossed lettering. “Oh. It’s an invitation to Winnie Waguespack’s sweet sixteen party. She told me about it on the ride home
table and picked up the paper again. After a few moments, she lowered it and looked over at Doll. “Mama, you ain’t gone to start that again, are you?” “No, baby, I just thought of something.” “What?” “You don’t think Miss Fannie is driving around looking for Miss Vidrine, do you?” Doll sat back in her chair and made wide eyes. “I hope not. What she think she gone do if she finds her?” Queenie shook her head. “That’s what I’m afraid of.” Chapter Twenty-Six Ibby watched Birdelia’s skinny
the back door, on the top step, with her hands on her hips. She peered down at Birdelia. “Where you all been?” “Mozer’s,” Birdelia replied nonchalantly. “For two hours?” Doll narrowed her eyes. “Took our time.” “Uh-huh.” Doll tapped her foot. “Where’s Miss Fannie’s lipstick, the one you were supposed to get for her?” Birdelia’s eyes opened wide. Without missing a beat, Fannie pulled a tube of lipstick from her purse and showed it to Doll. “She already gave it to me. I happened to see them
other side of this wall. Nothing to it. See for yourself.” Ibby followed T-Bone into the adjoining room. It was octagonal, no larger than her own room, with one small window facing the front of the house. Her eyes inadvertently landed on T-Bone, who was standing over in the far corner. She was surprised at how tall he was, well over six feet, and how muscular his arms and shoulders were. His hair was cropped close to his head. “You grown right pretty,” T-Bone said. She was sure he was just