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.
This was undoubtedly the best book I could possibly read after finishing Sirens. Dollbaby was a sweet and easy-to-read novel, a quirky southern tale for those who’re looking for a lovely adventure. After endless crime books and psychological thrillers, sometimes you need something different.
This is the story of Ibby, whose father suddenly dies after a silly bicycle accident. Her mother, who never showed she cared for her, takes Libby to live with her grandmother Fannie and her help: Queenie and Dollbaby. Throughout the years, Ibby will learn it all about family, secrets, and life in the south.
I can’t resist a good southern story, especially if it’s set in the past. Dollbaby had all those details I enjoy about this kind of novels, but the plot never seemed to advance, not until the very end. Quiet novels are among my favorites and the characters in this book were odd and adorable at the same time, but that wasn’t enough for me, not this time.
In addition, the “big secret” didn’t feel like something particularly innovative or surprising. What I’m trying to say is that Dollbaby was a nice and pleasant read, but nothing extraordinary that I hadn’t read or watched before in countless of movies.
Dollbaby was a short and fun book, and while I enjoyed Ibby’s story and grew to like her and her family, the novel didn’t manage to completely captivate me like other similar books (The Help, The Education of Dixie Dupree). It was definitely sweet and I read it in a matter of hours, but I don’t think it will stay with me forever.
Penguin Books, 2015