| Home | Fiction | Listserv | Creative Archives | Scholarly Archives |
| Book Review Archives | Critical Essays | Contribute | Search the Site |

The Bad Behavior of Belle Cantrell
ISBN: 0060515260
By: Loraine Despres

Review by: B. Gayle Boles


The premise for this book sounded very interesting, but I’m afraid Ms. Despres dropped the ball in the writing. She gives us a story of a young girl, born into poverty in the southern US that gets married off at the age of 15. This in itself could make an interesting story. However, Despres throws in multiple side stories that could add a lot of depth to the story and create an emotional bond with the characters, but she doesn’t follow through with these side stories. There is no opportunity for the reader to develop an emotional connection with even Belle, the main character. This leaves the reader wondering about what’s actually going on.

An example of some of the side stories is the fact that a black family took Belle and her mother in when they were really down on their luck. Belle later hired the black man, and then the Ku Klux Klan gets involved. There should have been some in-depth explanation about the relationship between these two families so that we could feel angry about what the Ku Klux Klan did. Despres also mentions Belle being arrested for wearing an indecent swimming suit, while her husband is in Europe fighting in WW I, but she doesn’t explain anything about the situation. This could have been a very interesting part of the story. Then there’s Belle’s involvement in the Suffrage movement; so much could have been said about that, and wasn’t.

Despres uses a very interesting time in history and doesn’t let it work for her. She creates a feisty heroine but never creates a bond between the reader and the heroine. The story ends up being a very simple love story.

One of the main things that drove this southern girl crazy was the fact that she had people saying “you all” instead of “y’all”. If Despres chooses to use dialects from a certain region of the U.S., she should research that dialect.

Editor's Note: Another review of this book can be found on the Women Writers' website, here.

Contact Women Writers