Lee Smith brings her masterful storytelling magic to this jewel of a novella that follows Jenny, an adventurous thirteen-year-old, down to Key West for a patched-up family vacation following the discovery of her father’s illicit affair.
Available for the first time as a stand-alone novella, this book centers on the Blue Marlin Motel in 1959, where Jenny, her beautiful socialite mother, and chastened father share their sunny days with movie stars who are in town to make the movie Operation Petticoat.
Jenny is precocious and a bit of a sleuth, so her innocent “observations” to uncover the secrets of movie stars also end up revealing the secrets of her own family. Jenny confronts the frailty of family life while also vying for the attention of actor Tony Curtis and even a role in his movie. Smith delivers humor and honesty to her flawed characters with genuine Southern dignity.
Named an Okra Pick by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance
“Smith excels at creating characters somewhat boggled by the reality of who they've become—by their lovers and homes, their jobs and their cars, haircuts and bodies—and who, consequently, feel a pressing need to explain themselves to themselves. One thing they never doubt is the correctness of their opinions, especially concerning the proper standards of behavior for a Southern lady, and the failings of ‘white trash.’ Smith's humor is pointed but gentle; her characters may be priggish and narrow-minded, but they are never mean. [. . .] Such obsession with detail makes Smith's heroines both distinctively Southern and universally feminine.” —Publishers Weekly