Book Review: The Wilde Women by Paula Wall

The Wilde Women ‘The Lord giveth and most women piss it away.’ With just the first sentence of the prologue of The Wilde Women, I knew I was in for a treat–honest insight of the intricate, and sometimes misunderstood minds of women–straight from the source.

Paula Wall is brutally honest, charming and hilarious in this book that, from the title, synopsis and throughout the prologue and first few chapters, we are led to believe is about the Wilde women. Sisters, Kat and Pearl come from a long line of exquisite beauty that stops all men in their tracks, as well as rebellion that only they can understand. However, The Wilde Women does not simply tell the tales of the lives Kat, Pearl and their mother, Lorna have lived, but it brings you in and accepts you as part of the small town of Five Points, a town much like any other, set in Tennessee circa 1920 after the historical stock market crash.

Encompassing sisters who are bitter rivals, townspeople who are so real and who you know so much about you feel like you’ve known them for years, disgustingly rich personalities, poor personalities with lost hope, whiskey, a shotgun wedding, love gained and lost and gained again, and a whorehouse that saves a town, Paula Wall has struck gold with this novel.

As soon as Wall broke away from Kat and Pearl Wilde, I didn’t think I would enjoy this book as much as I did. I loved both of the characters simply because I felt validated in some of the decisions I have personally made in the journey of my life; I felt as if I could be one of these women. The first step an author must take in writing a novel is making their characters easy to relate to and for me, these two characters hit the nail on the head. While I admittedly slowed down the pace in which I had begun reading this book, as soon as I began to know more about the townspeople in Five Points, my pace quickened again and I was hooked; I did not want this book to end. Wall’s writing style is eccentric, poetic and tragically beautiful; I swear that if Paula Wall was a journalist, she could make the Iraq war sound stunning. Her style reminded me a bit of Virginia Woolf in Mrs. Dalloway and also Jeanette Winterson in Written on the Body; all beautiful, poetic, captivating and hard to tear yourself away from.

While this is the first piece of writing I have read by Wall, I am eager to read the others. She has previously written The Rock Orchard, a national bestselling novel, as well as two collections of writing entitled If I Were a Man, I’d Marry Me and My Love Is Free…But the Rest of Me Don’t Come Cheap, all possessing extremely favorable reviews and equally-as-luring titles.

If you are in the mood for an entertaining, thought-provoking, hilarious and eccentric read unlike any of the books you’ve read this year, I could not recommend The Wilde Women enough.

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