"Sidda is a girl again in the hot heart of Louisiana, the bayou world of Catholic saints and voodoo queens. She walks barefoot into the humid night, moonlight on her freckled shoulders. Near a huge, live oak tree on the edge of her father's cotton fields, Sidda looks up into the sky. In the crook of the crescent moon sits the Holy Lady, with strong muscles and a merciful heart. She kicks her splendid legs like the moon is her swing and the sky, her front porch. She waves down at Sidda like she has just spotted an old buddy. Sidda stands in the moonlight and lets the Blessed Mother love every hair on her six-year-old head. Tenderness flows down from the moon and up from the earth. For one fleeting, luminous moment, Sidda Walker knows there has never been a time she has not been loved."
—from Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood
When Siddalee and Vivi Walker, an utterly original mother-daughter team, get into a savage fight over a New York Times article that refers to Vivi as a "tap-dancing child abuser," the fall-out is felt from Louisiana to New York to Seattle. Siddalee, a successful theatre director with a huge hit on her hands, panics and postpones her upcoming wedding to her lover and friend Connor McGill. But Vivi's intrepid gang of life-long girlfriends, the Ya-Yas, sashay in and conspire to bring everyone back together.
In 1932, Vivi and the Ya-Yas were disqualified from a Shirley Temple Look-Alike Contest for unladylike behavior. Sixty years later, they're "bucking seventy," and still making waves. They persuade Vivi to send Sidda a scrapbook of girlhood momentos entitled "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood."
Sidda retreats to a cabin on Washington State's Olympic Peninsula, tormented by fear and uncertainty about the future, and intent on discovering a key to the tangle of anger and tenderness she feels toward her mother. But the album reveals more questions than answers, and leads Sidda to encounter the unknowable mystery of life and the legacy of imperfect love.
With passion and a rare gift for language, Rebecca Wells moves from present to past, unraveling Vivi's life, her enduring friendships with the Ya-Yas, and the resulting reverberations on Siddalee. The collective power of the Ya-Yas, each of them totally individual and authentic, permeates this story of a tribe of Louisiana wild women impossible to tame.
Critical Praise for Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood
“A very entertaining and, ultimately, deeply moving novel about the complex bonds between mother and daughter.”
“Mary McCarthy, Anne Rivers Siddons, and a host of others have portrayed the power and value of female friendships, but no one has done it with more grace, charm, talent, and power than Rebecca Wells does in Divine Secrets of the YaŠYa Sisterhood.”
Wells’ voice is uniquely her own, funny and generous and full of love and heartbreak, in that grand Louisiana literary tradition of transforming family secrets into great stories.”
—New Orleans Times-Picayune
“Unforgettable...By turns comic and poignant, it speaks eloquently to what it means to be a mother, a daughter, a wife—and somehow, at last, a person.”
“Wells’ Louisiana is thick with sensual excesses—bayou French, pralines and sour cream cookies, crayfish etouffee, honeysuckle-smothered trellises, camellias and jasmine...In Divine Secrets, you can hear the ice cubes clink on every page...Wells’ book succeeds marvelously.”