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Never Sit Down in a Hoopskirt and Other Things I Learned in Southern Belle Hell

3.61  ·  Rating Details ·  329 Ratings  ·  75 Reviews
Expelled from thirteen boarding schools in the past five years, seventeen-year-old Jane Fontaine Ventouras is returning to her Southern roots, and the small town of Bienville, Alabama, where ladies always wear pearls, nothing says hospitality like sweet tea
and pimento cheese sandwiches, and competing in the annual Magnolia Maid Pageant is every girl’s dream.

But Jane is wh
ebook, 304 pages
Published June 14th 2011 by EgmontUSA
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Nov 05, 2011 Deb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Let me start by saying, I am from the south. Born and raised in and around Mobile, Alabama to be exact, and I must tell you that I found this book simply hilarious. I have first-hand knowledge of the organization that the "Magnolia Maids" were based on, as my daughter was on that court about 3 years ago. I think you can enjoy the book, even if you've never heard of them, but it might help to have a little bit of knowledge about the girls and the organization for you to really appreciate the humo ...more
Nov 15, 2014 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
People often ask me if I experienced much culture shock going to England. The truth is, any shock I received there was nothing compared to my first semester as a nice little Yankee girl going to school in Dayton, TN.
Tennessee is not quite Alabama. However, reading Never Sit Down in a Hoopskirt and Other Things I Learned in Southern Belle Hell felt eerily familiar. I'm 95% certain I've met the real live incarnation of Brandi Lyn.
This book was hilarious. Familiar. Fun. A tad teeny-bopper
Dec 08, 2011 Sandra rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Despite being heavy on the stereotypes, this book was entertaining, to be sure. There were several moments I was laughing out loud at the Magnolia Maids and their antics. I also particularly enjoyed the part of the plot that explored "modernizing" the court of the Magnolia Maids - for the first time in its history an African-American and a non-wealthy girl were elected to the court. I would have liked to have seen these aspects explored more, that might have given the book some substance.

I don't
Nov 29, 2011 Michelle rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: teen, fiction
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this story. I picked it up because the title made me laugh and I was expecting a cute, but forgettable read. There was a lot more depth to the story than I expected. Jane was a fairly complex character, and each of the girls had a distinct personality. Some didn't get much attention, but I never had trouble remembering who was who, as is sometimes the case in books with a multiple teenage girls. [return][return]Jane does a lot of growing, which I loved and t ...more
Sumiyya Abdul-Rasheed
Like probably about everyone who read this book I was attracted to both the cover and the title. From page number one all the way to the very last sentence of page 296, this book has not failed to be humorous, interesting, and a very good read.
Andrea Brokaw
Jun 16, 2011 Andrea Brokaw rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
Somewhat sweet, completely hilarious, and just plain Southern.
Brandy Painter
Review originally posted here.

I call the south home but I am not from here. Minus a three year stint in New Mexico I have lived here since I was 16. My parents are originally from Michigan. The places I have the most memories of I lived prior to here were England, southern California and upstate New York. I was little prepared y'all. Things are different here. Wedding are different, funerals are different, life is different. There are things I have come to appreciate about this region I call hom
Jessica Lawlor
Bad girl Jane Fontaine Ventouras is far from a Southern Belle, but if her Grandmother has anything to say about it she’s about to become one quick. After being expelled from thirteen boarding schools, Jane has just returned to Bienville, Alabama, a very small Southern town.

With a difficult past behind her, Jane isn’t sure she’s going to fit in in Bienville. After her mother passed away years earlier, her father buried himself in his work on the other side of the world. Jane moves in with her gra
Danyelle Leafty
Mar 15, 2011 Danyelle Leafty rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookshelf-2011
One of the first things that stood out to in NEVER SIT DOWN IN A HOOPSKIRT was voice. Jane has this incredibly wonderful voice. She's the girl that's been expelled from 13 boarding schools in five years, and would be the least likely suspect in a beauty pageant lineup. And she'd only applied to be a Magnolia Maid--the beauty pageant of the town--because her grandma asked her to.

Imagine her surprise, not to mention the entire town of Bienville, Alabama, when she's nominated to be a maid. Along wi
Stories & Sweeties {Becky}
First off, I have to say: the title and cover of this book crack me up. Everytime I look at this one it makes me smile---the whimsical cartoon style, the look on that poor girl's face, the gigantic hoopskirt flipping up, and, my favorite part...the punky fishnets and converse underneath!

Inside, the story is just as fun. Jane Fontaine Ventouras has just been plopped back into the small southern town she grew up in. Thirteen boarding school expulsions and one fed-up non-present father later, she i
After being expelled from thirteen boarding schools in the past five years, Jane Fontaine Ventouras is finally returning home to Bienville, Alabama. Jane can’t believe she’s back in her grandmother’s house after all this time, along with the sweet tea, good old southern hospitality, and all the pearl-wearing and perfectly primped pageant hopefuls. She couldn’t feel more out of place in her hometown, and her plans of blending into the wallpaper unnoticed are dashed when she is forced to compete i ...more
Mar 17, 2011 Khy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Being from Southern California, I find the entire idea of pageants and Southern belles and the like unbelievably strange but simultaneously fascinating. I don't understand the point of this whole belle thing, or the appeal, or why anyone would subject herself to it, but I do understand the appeal of books about the whole bizarre situation. This book in particular is a delight-- funny but not annoyingly so, sweet but not cheesy, and oh so much more.

This whole Southern belle thing is just so ridic
Princess Bookie
My Thoughts: We are introduced to Jane who comes back to town to live with her grandma. She used to live in town with her parents but her mom passed away and she's gotten kicked out of numerous boarding schools so she's back to live with her grandmother. Everyone in town is gossiping about her being back. She's even a little excited to see her childhood best friend, Luke. She decides to join the Magnolia Maids. Her mother was a part of it as a girl and Jane thinks she should do something her mot ...more
Christina (Reading Extensively)
Never Sit Down in a Hoopskirt and Other Things I Learned in Southern Belle Hell is a funny book with a mostly positive message. Jane is a character with a great sense of humor and quite a bit of sarcasm. Her attempts to be a model Magnolia Maid are hilarious. Fellow maid Brandi Lynn Corey also adds unintentional humor with her enthusiasm. I also liked that this book shows girls who are so different working together. It could have been a book about the underdogs defeating the mean girls but it wa ...more
Sep 17, 2011 Nicci rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I would have never given this book a second glance if I had not won it. I must acknowledge, therefore, Becky @Stories & Sweeties since I won this from her. Thank you! The cover of this book paired with its summary just equaled not interested for me. The cover I am just not a fan of, and the summary annoyed me, especially the last lines. Then I was bored one day and this was sitting on my shelf, so I figured I would give it a shot. Not only did I find a book I enjoyed, I found a book that I l ...more
Mar 19, 2011 Yan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Never Sit Down in a Hoopskirt and Other Things I Learned in Southern Belle Hell speaks for itself. Charming and funny with a sassy protagonist that’s sure to keep things lively. Never Sit Down in a Hoop Skirt brings to attention the life of the wealthy with their many connections, racial tension, and the pressure of being truthful to yourself while still trying to please others.

Jane Fontaine Ventouras has gone through countless boarding schools until eventually she ends up back South to her gra
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Jennifer Rummel for

Jane's been kicked out of more boarding schools than she can count. She's come home to Bienville, Alabama, to live with her grandmother. Suddenly, everyone's talking about her. Hoping to fly under the radar, she's unhappy when her grandmother guilts her into participating in the local pageant. To Jane's horror, she actually makes the Court.

Now, she must complete a year of appearances, fund raising, and attending balls with her fellow Maids. For the
Feb 18, 2011 Andrea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Little Bookworm
Jane is the typical rebellious teen but she wants to do her grandmother and late mother proud so she agrees to be a Magnolia Maid for a year. A Magnolia Maid represents the town of Bienville, Alabama as an ambassador, participating in publicity events. All while wearing antebellum hoopskirts and corsets. Jane is not about to put up with the normal antiquated Maid routine and she tries to change it. But change is not something most Southerners like and Jane has her work cut out
alicia eltzroth
After being kicked out of boarding school after boarding school Jane Fontaine Ventouras finally ends up back where she started at her grandmothers house in Bienville, Alabama. As a way for Jane to get back to her root and to help her fit back in to this small southern town Jane’s grandmother convinces her to try out for the annual Magnolia Maid Pageant. Never thinking that she'll make it she tries out and horror of all horrors she is one of the girls picked to be a maid. Confronted with the idea ...more
Nathalie S
Oct 21, 2011 Nathalie S rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Nathalie by: Liz
I was attracted to the title of this book--Sounded like a great combo and it was. Jane Fontaine Ventouras is a rebellious teen-what else-who has been kicked out of many boarding schools for misbehavior. She is finally living back in her hometown of Bienville, Alabama with her maternal grandmother. Her mother died of ALS when Jane was 9 and her father has chosen to deal with his grief by being an absentee father. So this all explains Jane's rebelliousness as a way to cope with all this. This isn' ...more
after being kicked out of yet another prestigious boarding school, jane returns to her hometown of bienville alabama to live with her grandmother. here she is encouraged to follow in her late mother's footsteps by trying out to be a magnolia maid, a local beauty queen who represents the town in civil-war era hoop-skirted costume. jane, a rebellious smoker generally seen in all black, is surprised when she makes the court, which is trying to "diversify" this year. immediately, evil ashley tries t ...more
Oct 10, 2015 Carri rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya, 2015
3.5 stars

Words & phrases to describe this book: witty, charming, slightly predictable, surprisingly deep at times, definitely fluffy, overall enjoyable.

As a good Tennessee girl, this book made me chuckle at the relatable "Southernisms"- from the ma'ams and the y'all's, to the pearls and traditions. As a reader, this Never Sit Down in a Hoopskirt made me stop and think about how I treat-and talk about- others. I really wasn't expecting such a solid example of how gossip and even well-meaning
Jessica Harrison
full review at Cracking the Cover
“Never Sit Down in a Hoopskirt and Other Things I Learned in Southern Belle Hell” by Crickett Rumley is laugh-out-loud funny. Who hasn’t seen “Gone With the Wind”? And who hasn’t wondered what it would be like to walk around in one of those dresses? The book’s cover is a great setup for that.

But this book is more than a pageant experience. It’s also an exploration of individual growth. And it’s not just Jane that experiences change. Crickett’s book is smart witho
Rachel Bhattacharyya
Jane Fontaine Ventouras has returned to Bienville, AL, to live with her grandmother after repeated expulsions from a series of prep schools. Believe me, Jane knows how to get into trouble. Consequently, what a surprise to find herself as a finalist in the annual Bienville Magnolia Maid Pageant. From the announcement of the finalists to their coming out, the pageant is rocked by this year's new, and diverse group of finalists. Rumley has successfully transformed a stereotypical regional story plo ...more
Aug 19, 2011 Adrienne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: teen
Troublemaker Jane isn't exactly the typical participant in Bienville, Alabama's Magnolia Maid Pageant, but since her beloved grandmother asks her to try it and Jane is trying to connect to her deceased mother (the Magnolia Maid queen in her day), Jane gives it a go, and surprisingly, is one of the finalists. That means she has to join four other girls in being a true Southern belle, complete with a hoopskirt and sweet Southern manners. However, bickering between the girls, plus the barriers Jane ...more
Jun 05, 2011 April rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya, for-review
Never Sit Down In A Hoopskirt is a novel that was hilariously penned by Cricket Rumley about southern debutantes. Whenever I read a book set in the south, I always feel the need to talk about how exotic the south is to me. Seriously, t he only southern place I have been is Orlando, Florida and I imagine that isn’t exactly THE REAL SOUTH. I feel a bit of a special connection to the south as my parents raised me on a steady diet of country music, so it might as well be a magical land.

Read the rest
Allison L
Are you looking for a fun yet serious book to finish up the summer with? Well then I’ve got just the book for you. Never Sit Down in a Hoopskirt and Other Things I Learned in Southern Belle Hell by Crickett Rumley is a simply delightful debut novel that is perfect for a last minute beach day, or a day when the fall weather is just beginning to break. On the surface, it appears like a truly simplistic novel that discusses the intricacies of the Southern Belle pageantry world but honestly, it is a ...more
Apr 16, 2016 Marilyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
I picked this one up based only on the title for a quarter at my public library's book sale. I was looking for a humorous fluff piece, and this one didn't disappoint. Imagine five 17-year-old young women in various pastel colored antebellum hoop skirts trying to get into and sit down and ride in an Escalade SUV. Not a literary masterpiece, but the imagery that Rumley shared was vivid, and the laugh-out-loud moments kept coming one after another. This one is being shipped off to my sister in Geor ...more
Nancy H
Feb 27, 2012 Nancy H rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a really good fun story about Jane Fontaine Venturas, who was raised by her grandmother, sent by her absentee father to many boarding schools, and now back home and an unwilling member of the famous Magnolia Maid Court in her hometown of Bienville, Alabama. She is a rebel and causes not a few problems when the sponsors of the pageant try to make her fit a mold that was outdated decades ago. She decides to use this opportunity to change (gasp!)how the community sees the pageant girls and ...more
Dec 21, 2011 Carrie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book. The characters of Jane and Ashley were well developed and it was a good read. I however did not find it as funny as I had hoped. I only laughed out loud once and that was in'll know when you read it. Having been a member of the organization the Magnolia Maids are based on, I can agree that there is a special bond and the book portrayed that well. All in all it was cute. I bought it because of the title and the fact that I know how to sit (and drive) in a hoop sk ...more
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Crickett Rumley graduated with an MFA in film from Columbia University and teaches screenwriting at the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles. As a screenwriter, she adapted Susan Taylor Chehak’s Smithereens for Killer Films and Julia Alvarez’s “The Suitor” for Gigantic Pictures and PBS.

Crickett’s experiences growing up in the South inspired this debut novel. Though she now lives in California wit
More about Crickett Rumley...

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