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My Summer Of Southern Discomfort [Hardcover]

Stephanie Gayle

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Book Description

June 14 2007

Today is Monday. The calls do not come as before. Weeks elapse between them, and when I answer the phone there is no overlap of voices, only my mother's. She spends much of the conversation avoiding mention of the pink elephant trumpeting in the middle of the room.

The pink elephant would be my defection to Georgia. When I telephoned with the news of my imminent relocation my father asked, "Georgia, as in the Republic of Georgia by the Black Sea, or Georgia as in the Peach State?" He hoped I meant the former because that Georgia promised unique opportunities to advance the democratic cause of justice. What could Georgia, former land of the Confederacy, offer?

Convicting arsonists and thieves in Macon, Georgia, was never Harvard Law grad Natalie Goldberg's dream. The pay is abysmal, the work is exhausting, and the humidity is hell for a woman with curly hair. But when a steamy romance with her high-powered New York boss went bad, Natalie jumped at the first job offered, packed her bags, and headed south.

Natalie's leftist Yankee background brands her a conspicuous outsider in this insular community. Her father, a famous civil rights lawyer, refuses to accept her career change—or talk to her. Her best friend begs her to come back home, and Natalie keeps thinking she sees her former lover everywhere.

But Natalie's not completely alone. There are a garden-obsessed neighbor, a former beauty queen–turned–defense attorney, and a handsome colleague who has a nervous tic whenever she gets near. And then there's a capital case that has her eating antacids by the truckload.

Yep, it's going to be one heckuva long, hot summer. . . .

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow (June 14 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061236292
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061236297
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16 x 2.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 431 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,783,581 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Short story writer Gayle makes her debut as a novelist with this chronicle of a young, liberal New York lawyer who starts over in the South. The daughter of a famous civil rights champion, Natalie Goldberg stuns her parents by moving to Bibb County, Ga., to work as a prosecutor. The job was initially Natalie's excuse to flee her position at a Manhattan law firm after having an affair with partner Henry Tate and finding herself the scapegoat for a mistake he made. Though Natalie has some trouble acclimating to her new environs, and she butts heads with co-counsel, good ol' boy Ben Maddox, she slowly warms to life in Bibb County while attempting to balance her anti–death penalty stance with her desire to win a capital case. Natalie's dilemmas are perfectly played, and Gayle's economical prose is peppered with sharp sentences (also a few duds: I felt as if I had been born full woman, Athena from Zeus's brow, with heavy breasts and dark pubic hair as curly as that atop my head) and clever fish-out-of-water observations. Don't be fooled by the ditzy jacket art. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Having suffered professional and personal humiliation at the hands of her boss and lover, promising young attorney Natalie Goldberg beats a hasty retreat from the prestigious Manhattan securities law firm where her career precipitously derailed from its fast track and surprises everyone by taking a low-paying, demanding, and unglamorous position as a district attorney in Macon, Georgia. Not only is Natalie a card-carrying Yankee liberal, she is also the daughter of a respected civil rights lawyer, and her sudden career change mystifies her conservative southern colleagues as much as it outrages her father. Alone in a new city, essentially friendless, and nursing a broken heart, Natalie doesn't think things could get much worse until she is appointed cocounsel for a death-penalty case, a position that goes against everything she believes. In this finely crafted debut novel, Gayle evinces a superb mastery of character development, rendering Natalie's various crises of faith with empathic authenticity, endearing humor, and enviable grace. Carol Haggas
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  15 reviews
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Summer of Southern Discomfort July 15 2007
By M. deLong - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This book is a page-turner from start to finish. I quickly became wrapped up in the life of the protagonist and found myself identifying with her in ways I didn't expect. The plotline combines an interesting legal story that touches on several ethical issues with a great character study of several different people, along with a dash of romance. The characters are rich and multi-faceted, so that they really are true human beings with strengths and flaws. I found myself rooting for so many different characters, including ones that I didn't think I would like as people when I started the book. It is a fun read that it also thought-provoking and inspiring to women. I highly recommend this book.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disapointing Nov. 16 2007
By Transplanted New Yorker - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I wanted to like this book, I really did. But it's awkward and sort of clumsy -- the dialogue and the plots just don't seem real. Some of the writing is engaging, but much of it falls flat and just doesn't have the impact it's supposed to. There's a good idea for a novel here, but it never realizes its potential.
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent character study July 22 2007
By A L G - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I started reading this book in the evening and didn't put it down until I had finished it at 5 am. Despite my lack of sleep, I felt pretty good about life.

Gayle has succeeded in the difficult task of writing a feel-good novel set the real world. This book is an extremely well crafted character study in which crime exists, mistakes are made, people have flaws, and life is complicated. Even so, Gayle deftly reveals her characters' good qualities and binds them into a community that I was jealous to join.

The story is told from the point of view of Natalie Goldberg, a woman who is undergoing a profound personal transformation. However, because Natalie is such an observant character, her own issues do not overwhelm the narrative and she brings into focus the other citizens of Macon, who are diverse and well drawn. As a lawyer, Natalie's interaction with her cocounsel, Ben, during a murder trial is probably the most difficult and rewarding relationship in the book, but Gayle gives us enough interesting characters to populate the whole town.

This book defies easy categorization; it's not chick lit, a romance, a thriller, a heavy drama, or a frivolity. It was definitely a great read, however, and I would highly recommend it to anyone.
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book for reading groups June 17 2008
By James Hobson Jr. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The story of a woman who leaves New York for Macon, GA to run away from her past and start a new future, this novel has a little bit of everything including a wonderful ending. The writing style flows consistently and is scattered with witty and funny observations of people in the south. The plot moves along and does not drag at any point in the story, which is uncommon for most writers. Also, the book is long enough to tell a complicated tale but short enough to keep interest, as any book should be. After reading Eat, Pray, Love, the author reminded me of Elizabeth Gilbert and is similarly engaging. Both authors are excellent at self-deprecating humor and at pointing out quirks in themselves and others. Altogether a wonderful beach book or light summer reading. Not epic by any means, but not every novel has to be The Fountainhead to be good.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read! Aug. 7 2007
By J. Luszcz - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I just finished this book and was so sad when the last page appeared - I didn't want it to end! Natalie's summer of transformation from a heart broken Yankee to more relaxed Southerner draws you in with a cast of memorable, well developed supporting characters. It is surprisingly well written for a freshman piece. The author's wit and sarcasm shine through out the novel. Her attention to detail, from how things look, smell and sound, helps you feel like you are there in Macon with Natalie, understanding all she is going through. I look forward to Ms. Gayle's second book.

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