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Loose Lips [Paperback]

Rita Mae Brown
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 2 2000
If you crossed Mitford, North Carolina, with Peyton Place, you might come up with Runnymede, Maryland, the most beguiling of Southern towns. In Loose Lips, Rita Mae Brown revisits Runnymede and the beloved characters introduced in Six of One and Bingo, serving up an exuberant portrayal of small-town sins and Southern mores, set against a backdrop of homefront life during World War II.

"I'm afraid life is passing me by," Louise told her sister.

"No, it's not," Juts said. "Life can't pass us by. We are life."

In the picturesque town of Runnymede, everyone knows everyone else's business, and the madcap antics of the battling Hunsenmeir sisters, Julia (Juts) and Louise, have kept the whole town agog ever since they were children. Now, in the fateful year of 1941, with America headed for war, the sisters are inching toward forty...and Juts is unwise enough to mention that unspeakable reality to her sister.

The result is a huge brawl that litters Cadwalder's soda fountain with four hundred dollars' worth of broken glass. To pay the debt, the sisters choose a surprisingly new direction. Suddenly they are joint owners of The Curl 'n' Twirl beauty salon, where discriminating ladies meet to be primped, permed, and pampered while dishing the town's latest dirt.

As Juts and Louise become Runnymede's most unlikely new career women, each faces her share of obstacles. Restless Juts can't shake her longing for a baby, while holier-than-thou Louise is fit to be tied over her teenage daughter's headlong rush toward scandal. As usual, the sisters rarely see eye to eye, and there are plenty of opinions to go around. Even the common bond of patriotic duty brings wildly unexpected results when the twosome joins the Civil Air Patrol, watching the night sky for German Stukas. But loose lips can sink even the closest relationships, and Juts and Louise are about to discover that some things are best left unsaid.

Spanning a decade in the lives of Louise, Juts, and their nearest and dearest, including the incomparable Celeste Chalfonte, Loose Lips is an unforgettable tale of love and loss and the way life can always throw you a curveball. By turns poignant and hilarious, it is deepened by Rita Mae Brown's unerring insight into the human heart.

From the Hardcover edition.

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In Bingo and Six of One, Rita Mae Brown made a name for herself--and the unforgettable Hunsenmeir sisters--with her talented depictions of early 1940s life in a small southern town. Now, in Loose Lips, we follow the continuously strained relationship of the outrageous siblings, Julia (Juts) and Louise (Wheezie).

Juts and Wheezie can't pass up a chance to push each other's buttons, and their joint ownership of a beauty salon in this latest installment creates many opportunities to do so. As Wheezie faces her 40th birthday with grim denial, Juts considers motherhood, and the rest of the town braces for their inevitable clashes.

Brown's snappy dialogue and artful situations skillfully communicate the surprising complexity of small town life and sibling relationships. Between the moments of straight comedy (a panicked confusion between bombers and geese makes a great running joke), the meatier issues of adoption, fidelity, piety, and, most importantly, loyalty, are considered, making Loose Lips both a hilarious and heartfelt read. --Nancy R.E. O'Brien --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

They're back! The irrepressible Hunsenmeir sisters of Runnymede, the fictional town straddling the Maryland-Pennsylvania line, are literally in fighting form after a long hiatus. Louise and Julia (Juts), both in their thirties in 1941, squabble at the town soda fountain and cause almost $400 (in 1941 dollars!) in damages in just the opening pages. In the 11 years spanned here, Hansford Hunsenmeir returns years after abandoning his wife and daughters, Louise copes with daughter Mary's first love and daughter Maizie's confusion, childless Juts and husband Chester adopt Nicole, and the sisters' Civil War Patrol duty provides endless town gossip after Louise mistakes a flock of geese for German Stukas and the alarm rouses Chester from his mistress's bed. This is neither prequel nor sequel to either Six of One (LJ 9/1/78), which introduces Runnymede's residents, or its sequel Bingo (LJ 10/15/88) but basically a loving, laugh-provoking expansion of years covered in the former. Time has honed Brown's literary skills but not lessened her love for these characters, and she has a winner here.
-AMichele Leber, Fairfax Cty. P.L., Arlington, VA
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Not her best "Runnymede" effort Jan. 20 2002
Rita Mae Brown's unforgettable cast of characters, introduced in Six of One, are brought back to life in her latest novel, Loose Lips. As fans of Juts, Wheezie, and the incomparable Celeste Chalfonte can attest, tales of love and loss, tossed in with unexpected twists and turns, are bountiful anytime this gang gets together.
Six of One introduced Julia and Louise Hunsenmeir, fondly known as Juts and Wheezie, an indomitable pair of quarreling sisters born around the turn-of-the-century in Runnymede, Maryland. The ensemble cast featured Cora, their strong and caring single mother, housekeeper of Celeste; the formidable Celeste Chalfonte, a lesbian without apology, and her lover, the elegantly beautiful Ramelle Bowman; Fairy Thatcher and Fannie Jump Creighton, ever-scheming schoolchums of Celeste; and in later chapters, Chessie and Pearlie, long-suffering husbands of Juts and Wheezie. Spanning almost a century, we watch the madcap life of Juts and Wheezie take them from small tots following their mother around in Celeste's Georgian mansion to the birth of their own children and the mayhem that follows, to Juts and Wheezie as old cronies, still tangling in their 80's.
Continuing the story in Bingo, Brown brings Runnymede back to life with Juts' daughter, Nicole, better known as Nickel. The cast, while still containing Juts and Wheezie as central figures, leaves a bit to be desired when compared to Six of One, and the storyline dwells a bit too much on newer characters who aren't quite as developed. Bingo is a an enjoyable read, but never catches fire like Six of One.
Enter Loose Lips.
In Brown's latest, the storyline picks up in 1941. Juts and Wheezie have entered adulthood, matrimony and maturity - or what resembles maturity for the Hunsenmeir sisters.
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Clearly this novel was a long time coming from Rita Mae and I admit some disappointment in only that I had read this book first before undertaking the rest of the series [Six of One and Bingo]. However, as this third book in the series, which should really be called the first, wasn't published until now. I can only give the advice to new Rita fans to read this first if you have not yet read the other two. Loose Lips is still, however, an important installment in the series further exploring the Hunsenmeier Sisters Louise and "Juts" and their very funny adventures in sibling rivalry. Still, I found the read enjoyable particularly the second half and I tolerated the first half pleasantly revisiting in depth the early stories of these two sisters as well as the interesting lives of Runnymeade, MD residents.
It is important to note that in reading this late edition brings enjoyment in understanding the journey Rita has taken as an author. It makes much sense to me that she would revisit this story line and tell us more stories about a period of time in the Hunsenmeier relationship that was lacking a bit. I applaud Rita's talent and her courage to take us back a bit further in a hindsighted tale that still brings chuckles and laughter to the reader.
You'll like this book, but you'll like it better if you have not read the other two installments in the series.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Rita Mae is capable of much better Nov. 29 2000
"Six of One" and "Bingo" were strong, funny books. Unfortunately, "Loose Lips" is a weak follow-up. The first third of the book disappointed me most, with its brief retellings of some of the best stories from the earlier two books.
"Loose Lips" begins in 1939, not long before the US entered WWII. The Hunsenmeier sisters are already grown, and Wheezie's two daughters, Mary and Maizie, are soon to leave her house. The primary relationships explored in this book are the ones between Juts and Wheezie and between Juts and her adopted daughter, Nickel. Unfortunately, we don't learn anything new about the relationship between sisters, and the mother-daughter relationship comes into the book pretty late. As Nickel develops into a headstrong little kid, the book gets more interesting, but I didn't really feel like it was worth slogging through the disappointing retellings of great stories like the night of Nicekl's adoption. For better entertainment than this book offers, re-read the first two books ("Six of One" and "Bingo",) and then read Brown's autobiography "Rita Will."
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brown at her witty best. Nov. 25 1999
Loose Lips was a pleasure to read, and Brown just gets better with age. Her incredible ear for dialogue always thrills me, and here she reaches new heights with Louise and Julia's zingy repartee. Unfortunately Brown focuses so much on how her characters talk that she fails to create vivid pictures of how they look. I used to think this was a purposeful technique in her Mrs. Murphy mysteries (since who would expect a cat to pay attention to people's looks), but I found the same situation in Loose Lips: in my mind her characters tend to be witty, fast-talking amorphous blobs. Brown's characters also unabashedly face the realities of raising children, the honest truth that there probably is not a mother alive who, as Louise so cleverly puts it, hasn't thought at some desperate or frazzled time in her life of making her child an angel, i.e., dispatching her to heaven. WARNING: If descriptions of horrendous child-rearing offend you, this is probably a book better left unread. Juts' verbal and physical abuse of Nickel (including burning her with her cigarette), while entirely in character, is just plain frightening, and makes the latter, post-adoption portion of the book much less enjoyable than the beginning.
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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing Rehash
Six of One is superior to Loose Lips. I'd recommend (re-)reading that instead. The characters are more fully drawn, the wit is sharper, and the story is just plain better.
Published on Sept. 25 2002 by S. Hill
4.0 out of 5 stars Loose Lips and Chick Flicks
If you enjoy the power of sisterhood, the complexity of women and lots of silly Southern humor, this is the book for you. A downright darn good read (which I did in one day! Read more
Published on July 13 2002 by CMH_1001
5.0 out of 5 stars Can I move to Runnymeade?
Ahh, small town life! Stradling the Mason-Dixon line, Runnymeade makes it's own rules which suits the main characters perfectly. Read more
Published on July 6 2001 by Karen K. Whitmoyer
4.0 out of 5 stars Best of Runnymeade
The third installment in Brown's Runnymeade series is the best written and most thoughtful yet. The human-ness of her characters, their trials and their steadfast attachment to... Read more
Published on Feb. 19 2001
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed
I absolutely loved the first two books with Juts and Wheezie. When I read them both, I laughed out loud over and over, literally till tears ran down my cheeks. Read more
Published on June 7 2000 by Jules
5.0 out of 5 stars Laugh out Loud !
Another Rita Mae masterpiece. Jutz & Wheezie once again square off with dynamic and often hysterically funny exchanges. Read more
Published on Dec 27 1999 by Susann M. Saghatelian
4.0 out of 5 stars Parallel and Prequel; Maintains Continuity
This book is much better than Six of One or Bingo; Brown is getting less preachy as time goes by. This book's events occur before the events in Bingo; however, it roughly... Read more
Published on Dec 21 1999
4.0 out of 5 stars Funny snapshot of life...
These two sisters were funny, frustrating, sensitive, pig-headed...in other words, real. Their lives and those of their family and friends made a great read.
Published on Dec 11 1999
3.0 out of 5 stars A Prequel
If you have read Six of One and Bingo, you should know that this book preceeds those in the lives of the characters. It was a little confusing until I figured that out. Read more
Published on Dec 2 1999 by "toomey501"
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