Category Archives: Ross, Ann B.

Ann B. Ross. Etta Mae’s Worst Bad-Luck Day. New York: Viking, 2014.

“What I wanted more than anything else was to be somebody. Somebody who was respected and listened to and treated in a nice way all the time. What I wanted was to be in a situation where nobody would ever again look at me and, without blinking an eye, think the worst.”

That’s Etta Mae Wiggins talking, and this is her story.  Readers of Ann Ross’s Miss Julia Series know Etta Mae as the cheerful, voluptuous manager of Miss Julia’s trailer-park and an occasional sidekick in Miss Julia’s adventures.  It was Etta Mae who Miss Julia recruited to rescue J. D. Pickens when he was in danger in West Virginia, and Etta Mae found a housekeeper–her granny–to manage J. D. and Hazel Marie’s household after their twins were born.  Miss Julia knows that she can count on Etta’s Mae’s energy and good heart to help her solve the problems of family and friends in little Abbotsville.

In this book, Ann Ross takes a half-step away from the Miss Julia series to give us Etta Mae’s back-story.  Etta Mae is from the poorer part of Abbot County, and her people–the Wiggins clan–have been considered lazy and shiftless.  Etta Mae grew up already judged because of her family name.  Etta Mae hasn’t help herself by her way of dressing and her complicated romantic history; some of her own missteps only reinforced people’s negative opinion of her.  And Miss Julia was one of those doing the judging.  We learn that Etta Mae and Miss Julia did not immediately get off on the right foot, and that it took Hazel Marie’s intervention and some spiked punch to break the chill between them.  This is only one of a number of funny scenes in this gentle, enjoyable novel.  Etta Mae gets her man, and some of the respectability she seeks, but that’s not to say that everything works out as she planned.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2014, Henderson, Humor, Mountains, Novels in Series, Ross, Ann B.

Ann B. Ross. Miss Julia’s Marvelous Makeover. New York: Viking, 2014.

makeoverFear not, gentle reader–Miss Julia is not giving up her classic, understated, age-appropriate look.  The subject of the makeover is Trixie, a twenty-something distant relative who has been sent to live with Miss Julia.  Trixie’s “Meemaw” thinks that Miss Julia is rich and uppity, but Meemaw wants the girl off her hands, so she puts Trixie on a bus to Abbotsville. Meemaw hopes that Julia will spruce up Trixie and find her a suitable husband.

Trixie’s visit comes at an inopportune time. Miss Julia and Sam are about to embark on a new adventure as Sam runs for a seat in the state senate.  Just as Sam’s campaign is taking off, he has to have surgery for a cantankerous gallbladder.  Suddenly, Miss Julia has to stand in for Sam at various campaign events.  Public speaking terrifies Julia, but little Lloyd adds moral support by accompanying her and even doing a little speech writing.

At least all is well again with the Pickens family.  Hazel Marie–with help from from James and Granny Wiggins–has her household back in order, with the twins well cared for and Hazel Marie feeling like her old self.  Hazel Marie helps Julia by taking Trixie off her hands.  Under Hazel Marie’s gentle guidance, and in a two-steps-forward, one-step-back process, Trixie begins to groom and dress herself better.  Unfortunately, Trixie attracts the attention of Rodney Pace, a young man on the make–for money.  Pace’s ambitions are focused on setting up a new funeral parlor in town–on land that Julia owns.  Soon Julia needs her full team of family and friends to thwart his plot, and what was to be a quiet summer in Abbotsville gets very hectic even before the Fourth of July fireworks get cold.

This is the fifteen novel in the Miss Julia series.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2014, Henderson, Humor, Mountains, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Ross, Ann B.

Ann B. Ross. Miss Julia Stirs Up Trouble. New York: Viking, 2013.

miss juliaReaders of this series know that Miss Julia has come to love Hazel Marie and her son Lloyd, who is the illegitimate son of Miss Julia’s late husband.  They are family.  So much so that Julia and her new husband, Sam Murdock, have settled the pair, along with Hazel Marie’s husband, J.D. Pickens, and their twin girls into Sam’s old house.  Not only does the Pickens family have a nice house, but Sam’s cook, James, has stayed on to help.  This is a blessing because Hazel Marie was never much of a cook and those babies have her worn down.  But James is no spring chicken and when he injures himself in a fall, the Pickens household is in crisis.  James needs help to get in and out of bed, so Hazel Marie must tend to him and her babies, keep the house in order, and cook the kind of meals that keep a man at home. (J.D. was a womanizer before he married Hazel Marie and he travels quite a bit for his work–all of which causes Miss Julia to worry about this marriage.)

Of course, Miss Julia steps in.  She has trouble finding a temporary cook, so she lines up various friends to come over and both cook and give Hazel Marie cooking lessons.  (The recipes that are used are scattered throughout the book.)  Organizing all these cooking lessons is quite a juggling act, but it is nothing compared to managing the personalities sharing space at the Pickens house.  James proves to be a demanding patient, Hazel Marie’s sleazy uncle, Brother Vern, is back in town and has moved in, and Granny Wiggins, who Etta Mae has recruited to clean, is a tornado of energy–and opinions.  Plus, Miss Julia and Lillian have both spotted J.D. with another woman and they will do anything to keep Lloyd from finding out that his new dad is no saint.  This, the fourteenth book in the Miss Julia series, is a tasty dish of misadventure, misunderstanding, and southern charm.

A note on the dust-jacket:  The imagery on dust-jackets has become stereotypical and formulaic–and sometimes even misleading.  It’s not uncommon for the image on the cover to misrepresent some basic element of the location or the main character by, for example, making the heroine a blonde when the book says she’s a brunette, or showing a mountain lodge out of Travel + Leisure when the action takes places at an abandoned hunting cabin.  The dust-jacket for Miss Julia Stirs Up Trouble is an exception to this trend.  It’s a delight to look at the image and see so many items mentioned in the book–everything from a bag of Gold Medal flour to a grilled cheese sandwich to J.D.’s aviator style sunglasses.  Kudos to the people at Viking Press.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Henderson, Humor, Mountains, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Ross, Ann B.

Ann B. Ross. Miss Julia to the Rescue. New York: Viking, 2012.

Change is on the way. Even though Miss Julia has known all along that Lloyd (her late husband’s love child) would leave her cozy nest someday, she never expected to dread it so much. To cope, she takes on a fun project: renovating the house for when her husband, Sam, returns from the Holy Land.

Just as Miss Julia has settled into her summer routine, she receives an ominous phone call. It sounds like it is from Mr. Pickens, a private investigator who is away on the job, but the connection is lost before she can confirm it. Knowing that Hazel Marie, his wife, is worried about his well-being after not hearing from him, Miss Julia embarks on an expedition to find him. She picks up Etta Mae Wiggins on the way out of Abbotsville, and the two women soon find themselves in the backwoods of West Virginia. When the local sheriff refuses to give them any information about their friend, our steel magnolia performs a jail– er, hospital-break to get the injured Mr. Pickens back to North Carolina.

Even though everyone is back in their proper places, all is not well. The West Virginia lawman is sure to follow the trio back to question Mr. Pickens, and that could mean trouble for Miss Julia and Etta Mae. A strange local has returned to town, and she has set her sights on hijacking Miss Julia’s carpenter, Adam. Worse than stealing her talented worker, Miss Julia fears this New Age religious leader is trying to influence his thinking. As always, Abbotsville is lucky to have Miss Julia save the day!

Miss Julia to the Rescue is the thirteenth novel in the “Miss Julia” series.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Henderson, Humor, Mountains, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Ross, Ann B.

Ann B. Ross. Miss Julia Rocks the Cradle. New York: Viking, 2011.

Everyone in Miss Julia’s household has been preparing for the birth of Hazel Marie’s twins.  Hazel Marie has moved into the bedroom on the first floor, Etta Mae has agreed to help out when the babies are born, and copious amounts of baby supplies have been bought.  But Mother Nature has her plans too.  In one of the funniest scenes in this series of books, the twins are born in Miss Julia’s living room during a blizzard.  Miss Julia practically passes out from the shock, but Lillian takes charge, and the babies are delivered safely.

J.D., the babies’ father, and Miss Julia’s husband, Sam, miss the excitement, since they are both in Raleigh on business.  They return to a household in turmoil.  The babies are not nursing well, and no one is getting enough sleep. Just when the babies settle down, another problem arises.  A body has been found in a nearby toolshed.  Since the body was found on the property of Lloyd’s teacher, Miss Petty, Miss Julia can’t resist poking around.  She soon wishes she hadn’t.  The dead man is someone Miss Julia had financial dealings with–dealings that Sam did not know about–and this is the last straw for Sam. Suddenly, Miss Julia’s marriage appears to be on the rocks, and this shakes our heroine to her core.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Henderson, Humor, Mountains, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Ross, Ann B.

Ann B. Ross. Miss Julia Renews Her Vows. New York: Viking, 2010.

Now what woman wouldn’t be a bit upset if her husband of just a few years tells her that he thinks they need to attend “marriage enrichment” classes–and those classes are led by someone she knows to be a shady character?  Leading the “Stoking the Embers” classes is Dr. Fred Fowler, a man who once tried to make the case that Julia was too mentally incompetent to manage her first husband’s estate.  Miss Julia and Dr. Fred have a little personal history too, the memory of which fills Miss Julia with shame.

Rev. Ledbetter, Miss Julia’s nemesis, is behind this, but Julia has an ally in Rev. Ledbetter’s wife, Emma Sue, who also wants out of the classes. Both women feign illness, but hiding out in the bedroom all day just doesn’t work for Miss Julia.  Young Lloyd is staying with her while his mother is on her honeymoon and Julia is preparing for the newlyweds to live with her and Sam until their twins are born.  Julia also is busy trying to clear a friend of an assault charge, and Julia would like to send the newly returned, much-married Fran Delacorte back to Florida before she gets her hooks into Sam.

It’s almost too much for Miss Julia, but readers know that she will come through as she has done in the previous ten books in this series.

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Filed under 2010, 2010-2019, Henderson, Humor, Mountains, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Ross, Ann B.

Ann B. Ross. Miss Julia Delivers the Goods. New York: Viking, 2009.

That Hazel Marie! Miss Julia has become fond of her late husband’s mistress and the couple’s son, but Hazel Marie hasn’t always made it easy.  Miss Julia was scandalized when Hazel moved in with a new boyfriend, private detective J.D. Pickens.  Hazel and J.D. are each on the stormy side, and when J.D. has had enough, he leaves town.  Now Hazel finds herself expecting twins, and Miss Julia decides she must get the couple back together.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2009, Henderson, Humor, Mountains, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Ross, Ann B.

Ann B. Ross. Miss Julia Hits the Road. New York: Viking, 2003.

Miss Julia can’t figure out what is wrong with her friend Sam. He is too old for a mid-life crisis and too young for senility, but he inexplicably shows up in her driveway one day wearing a leather jacket and riding a Harley. Although she can’t seem to wrap her mind around it, he also begins courting her in earnest: flowers, bad poetry, and calling “just to talk.” However, the real problem in this book is that Miss Julia’s housekeeper Lillian and all her neighbors are in danger of being evicted by their shady landlord. Miss Julia comes to the rescue by organizing a Poker Run motorcycle fundraiser, but must also dodge the unwanted attentions of the event’s biggest benefactor. This is the fourth book about the proper widow’s adventures in the fictional town of Abbotsville.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2003, Henderson, Humor, Mountains, Mystery, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Ross, Ann B.

Ann B. Ross. Miss Julia Throws a Wedding. New York: Viking, 2002.

When Hazel Marie decides to move out of Miss Julia’s house–and in with her boyfriend, J.D.–the proper widow isn’t sure what to do. Luckily, there are people in town who are more in the marrying mood and Julia throws herself into planning a proper wedding for a local couple. But nothing is ever easy in Abbotsville; there are bridal wedding jitters, uninvited guests, and a local thief for Julia to contend with. This is the third novel about Miss Julia’s exploits in the fictional town of Abbotsville.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2002, Henderson, Humor, Mountains, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Ross, Ann B.

Ann B. Ross. Miss Julia Takes Over. New York: Viking, 2001.

At the opening of Miss Julia Takes Over, Hazel Marie Puckett disappears after a dinner-date in Asheville with Abbotsville’s new fundraiser. Although Hazel Marie was the mistress of Julia’s now-deceased husband, she and her son Lloyd are now part of Julia’s family and the upstanding widow is determined to find her. Since the police won’t help, Julia enlists the assistance of a beer-drinking, womanizing private eye. Her search brings her all around North Carolina and has her meeting a NASCAR driver outside Rockingham, whose missing property is connected to Hazel Marie’s disappearance. Readers of the first novel in the Miss Julia series will be familiar with the cast of supporting characters, including Miss Lillian, Sam Murdoch, Pastor Ledbetter, and televangelist Brother Vernon Puckett.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2001, Henderson, Humor, Mountains, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Ross, Ann B.