This novel is comprised of two parts. The first 9/10 of the book is basically a very long character development on Aurora Greenway, a spoiled Houston widow with no shortage of "suitors" who adore her and put up with her egomania and fits of exceedingly bad behavior. The remaining 1/10 of the book focuses primarily on Aurora's daughter Emma, who lives through a bad marriage and a series of disappointing affairs only to die of cancer slowly, surrounded by her mother, children, husband and lover.
The first part of this book was pretty entertaining. Aurora was someone who I would want to strangle in real life, but her suitors and housekeeper Rosie kept things rolling. I especially liked Vernon, her Texas millionaire oilman. However, no characters really seemed to do anything--just sit around having dinner parties, going out to breakfast, and generally behaving like spoiled brats at all times between and during.
If you have seen the movie by the same name, you know that the movie focuses mainly on this last 1/10 of the book--Emma's dramatic demise. I don't intend to make light of anyone's suffering, and certainly not of cancer, but this part of the book was overdone to the extreme, much like the Bette Midler movie "Beaches." I hate books and movies that seem to be written solely with the intention of getting a cheap cry out of you, and that's they way this part of the book read to me. Emma's speech to her son Tommy about how he should be nice to her because 10 years from now he will look back and regret mistreating her on her deathbed made me cringe.
I had a hard time accepting this book's structure. So little happened in the majority of the novel and so much happened at the end. The akward structure and forced tearjerking made me less appreciative of all the good writing that came before the sapply finale. I have to admit that this book kept me entertained, but great literature it's not.