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The Bad Behavior of Belle Cantrell

3.67  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,188 Ratings  ·  115 Reviews
Belle Cantrell felt guilty about killing her husband and she hated that. Feeling guilty, that is. A lady shouldn't do something she's going to feel guilty about later was a rule Belle kept firmly in mind.

Welcome to the world of beautiful, irrepressible Belle Cantrell, years before she becomes grandmother to Sissy LeBlanc of Loraine Despres' bestselling The Scandalous Sum
Paperback, 352 pages
Published June 13th 2006 by Harper Perennial (first published 2005)
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The Help by Kathryn StockettTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeThe Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk KiddFried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie FlaggGarden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen
Quirky Southern Fiction
211th out of 691 books — 1,775 voters
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeGone with the Wind by Margaret MitchellThe Help by Kathryn StockettThe Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark TwainFried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg
Best Southern Literature
339th out of 887 books — 2,243 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,242)
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Apr 30, 2010 MissSusie rated it it was amazing
The first line of this book hooked me-Belle Cantrell felt guilty about killing her husband and she hated that. Feeling guilty, that is. A lady shouldn't do something she's going to feel guilty about later, was a rule Belle kept firmly in mind.And so begins your introduction to Belle Cantrell's Southern Woman's Primmer of Propriety which Belle teacches but doesn't always follow.It is set in the 1920's with prohibition in full swing and women are fighting for their right to vote.Its about a young ...more
Nov 30, 2011 Holly rated it it was ok
This takes place in Gentry,LA during the time of prohibition and suffrage. The author, Loraine Despres, is from Amite, LA. I picked it up because the author also wrote "the Southern Belle's Handbook" which I thought I had read and enjoyed. Turns out I got the Handbook confused with "A Southern Belle Primer" by Maryln Schwartz. I really tried to like this book, but it just didn't click with me. Belle is a 33 year old widow living with her mother in law on their plantation/farm. She is mother to a ...more
Lisa Jameson
May 15, 2008 Lisa Jameson rated it really liked it
This was a fun book about a Southern Belle during prohibition times who's husband was murdered. It does have some strong messages about prejudice and the lack of rights for women not even 100 years ago.
Made me grateful for the 'sufferagettes' and other women who sacrificed for the rights I totally take for granted.

Not too heavy reading, very enjoyable story.
Oct 10, 2012 Kit★ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was on my wishlist for years, ever since I read The Scandalous Summer of Sissy LeBlanc maybe like 5 or 6 years ago. So when I found a copy on one of my usual Goodwill ventures, I was psyched! And it was a brand-new looking hardback too. Even better as I'm a fool for a hardback, especially for books I plan on hanging on to. The time finally felt right to read this book, and I dove right in. I was hooked from that quirky beginning. I immediately liked Belle as a character, she was totall ...more
Jessica Medved
Nov 26, 2014 Jessica Medved rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book so much!!!!

The story is captivating and the writing is so well done it keeps you turning pages quicker and quicker!

This is about a middle aged woman in the time of prohibition, the KKK, and Women's Suffrage. Belle Cantrell is the kind of woman you hope wins, the woman you are rooting for the entire time. The story follows her as she works towards protecting the rights and lives of those that have been targeted in an unfair time. She just happens to do it with her wit
Jul 10, 2007 Megan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chicklit, books-i-own
I am not sure that this book would be accurately described as chick-lit but as I think women will enjoy it more than men I guess it works. I really enjoyed this book. The main character is interesting and spunky. This book has a little bit of everything from romance to dealing with social issues in the south at the beginning of the last century. I especially enjoyed the characters involvement in the women's suffragette movement. Definetely pick up this book if you have time.
Dec 17, 2008 Andrea rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book tries to add slapstick triviality to a serious and horrible chapter of the history of the American south. The main character, Belle, is, I suppose, to be cunning and adorable but comes of as indignant and self-righteous.

I kept going thinking that the story would have some redeeming value but it does not. My advice: Abandon this book at all once.
Jul 05, 2012 Georgette rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I actually didn't think I'd like this book. It took me FOREVER to pick it up and start reading it because I was scared I'd hate it. It was actually a very easy read about a 33 year old woman during women's suffrage in the United States and her feelings and thoughts towards discrimination. Belle is not your typical southern woman in the 1920's. Pretty good book!
Florence Csage
May 11, 2013 Florence Csage rated it it was ok
Guess I would rate this book as O.K. Takes place in the 1920 Era--women getting the right to vote and the Ku Klux Klan in the south. The main character, Belle's guilt over her husband's death and wanting to move on with her life. The main reason I finished the book was because a friend shared it with me and I wanted to tell her I did!
Apr 09, 2016 Michelle rated it liked it
This is a time I'd say "don't judge a book by its cover" applies. The cover is cute but the content is more serious.

It's the year 1920 and Belle is a feminist. She grew up poor, got married at 16 and has just recently been widowed in her early 30's.
Her life is a made up of a series of thoughts about what she "should" do.
Her mother-in-law has spent half her life trying to teach Belle how a lady should act.

Belle wants to be good, but she wants to be happy too.

When her husband passes away, she fee
Feb 29, 2008 Mary rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: readers of Jacqueline Winspear, historical women's fiction readers and fans of Southern literature.
This story had me laughing out loud and gasping at the venomous racism of the KKK that the author unflinchingly tackles. Smart, impeccable historical women's fiction with a passionate romance and a great heroine.
Jul 28, 2015 Karissa rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio, library-2015
There were so many things going on with this book that made it fantastic!

It's a simple read - or listen - and it's packed full of history.

Belle Cantrell's husband has finally come home from the war - WWI to be exact. She is very excited to see him and be intimate with him after two years. Things don't go quite as planned, however, after she finds a note from a French woman in one of his pockets and he dies at a poker game.

A year later, 1920 I believe, she decides to cut her hair into a short
Aug 04, 2008 Annette rated it it was amazing
I am not sure which book I enjoyed more... LOVED this book. But then again, I love stories of southern women
Sep 01, 2008 Diane rated it it was amazing

Belle Cantrell is a delight. She is a woman born before her time though or maybe not. Belle is humorous, tough and has her own way of surviving being a woman in the 1920’s. The Southern Girls Guide to Men and Other Perils of Modern Life are Belle’s rules that she has made up and continues to make up as she goes through life.

Married at a young age because of becoming pregnant the surrounding community view Belle as somewhat wild. Widowed the day her husband comes home from the war Belle’s life c
Sep 02, 2008 Angela rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who doubts the abilities of our mothers
While I was reading this book, I thought a lot about my grandmothers. My maternal great, great grandmother Minnie, was a flapper who ran a "boarding house for gentlemen", whatever that is, after she kicked her drunk of a husband out of the house and divorced him. I am told she wore red lipstick and smoked, and probably didn't give a hoot what anyone thought of her. Her daughter, my great grandmother, Ruth, worked three jobs after her husband died, leaving her alone to raise five children during ...more
Mar 28, 2008 Kate rated it liked it
Recommended to Kate by: Chris
Listened to the abriged audiobook. Once again, I wished that I had the full text to hear. Throughout the book I was conscious that I must be missing things. Oh, well. I could always check out the book.

Belle Cantrell lives in the small Louisiana town of Gentry during the 1920's. Having lost her husband the very day he returns from WWI, Belle has to create a life for herself as a single woman. Though she lives with her southern matron mother-in-law and has raised her daughter to abide by the "Prim
Aug 28, 2011 Donna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A heroine I can relate to! Belle Cantrell has a hard time following the rules. First of all, she killed her husband. No, she didn't stick a knife in him but he was fighting to defend her honor when it happened so she might as well have. She has an awful lot of impure thoughts, true they were mostly about her husband when he was still alive but in prohibition era Gentry, Louisiana a proper lady is only supposed to tolerate that business not actually like it! She bobs her hair, tries unsuccessfull ...more
Sep 20, 2011 Nancy marked it as to-read
I wasn't sure what to think about this book, and after the first few chapters, almost put it down. However, I'm glad I stuck it out until the end. The author has done an excellent job researching the time period, and incorporating the events of the early 1920's into the narrative, but not in an overbearing, didactic way--or in just a cursory way. I don't usually read books about this time period, but am now fascinated about all the things that were going on at the same time--the end of WWI, proh ...more
Amy R
Jun 10, 2011 Amy R rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
1920, small town Louisiana. Belle Cantrell's husband is murdered during a poker game, just hours after returning home a War Hero. Two years later, Belle is still blaming herself and her suffragist ways for risque photos taken of her while he was away fighting for the country. With the help of her Protestant Minister, Southern-Victorian Mother-In-Law and her Jewish bestie, Belle moves forward in an era of the KKK, racism, and small-town boredom to find love and happiness once again, breaking a fe ...more
Jul 22, 2014 Tiah rated it it was amazing
Shelves: southern-love
I love this book and for those of you who may not realize.. it's connected to The Scandalous Summer of Sissy LeBlanc -- Sissy being her granddaughter and I love them both! Being a born and raised Southerner.. I find both books hilarious and it's one I could read multiple times =)
Oct 17, 2008 Shannan rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
I give this book a mixed review. I liked the main character and her spunk in rebelling against the social mores of the day. There were a lot of good historical details and the author painted a vivid picture of a small town in the south in 1920.

I didn’t fully enjoy the book though, because so much of it focused on the bigotry and hate of the KKK and there was so much violence and venom in it. It was just too much bile for a light fiction read and it almost turned me off from finishing the book. H
Jul 30, 2015 Gospodyina rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Listened to way more than it deserved, but still didn't make it through the first disc. I foolishly believed from the back-cover blurb (and, frankly, the font) that it would indeed be "comic" and "a page-turner" "with laugh-out-loud humor," and wow, was I wrong.
May 24, 2014 Hubjeanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It started out a little slow and I didn't think I'd like it. It didn't take me long to know the characters and totally get involved in the story line. I actually loved the book and would love to read more about Belle.
Pam Kirst
Some of us wish we could be that dangerous, edgy person. Some of us never will...but it's fun to read about them!

Listened while driving. At first I thought it was just kind of silly chick lit, but it also dealt with some more serious historical issues such as racism, the KKK and women's suffrage.
Apr 08, 2010 Lindsay rated it really liked it
This book was just what I needed! I had just completed the (imo) underwhelming and incredibly boring "The Historian" and needed something funny, sexy and sassy and this was it! I read "The Scandalous Summer of Sissy LeBlanc" years ago and remembered that I really enjoyed it, so I was tickled to find out that her grandmother Belle had her own story. I finished this in two nights bc I couldn't put it down! In fact, the only reason it took two nights was bc I had to sleep at some point. I loved Bel ...more
Aug 07, 2014 Jackie rated it really liked it
A much better read than I expected. I expected a fluffy chick lit book but got more than that. Nice surprise! The final ending was sappy and predictable...not surprisingly. Overall, a very nice read!
Oct 09, 2010 bookczuk rated it liked it
This is a time period I've read a great deal about, though usually in more esoteric books. Bell Cantrell is a woman living on the cusp between worlds. She's caught between her upbringing and her desires. It's hard to imagine, given our world of today, when bobbing your hair, or driving in a motorcar with a man could damage your reputation, or a time when the men you grew up knowing could hide themselves under sheets and call themselves heroes and protectors as Klansmen. Some very nice elements i ...more
Sep 28, 2013 Pooch rated it it was ok
I finally finished reading The Bad Behavior of Belle Cantrell by Loraine Despres. I don't really know why I slogged through it, but I did. No disrespect to the author, but this book struck me as one in the category of Harlequin romance with history thrown in to give it some respectability. Not my cup-o-tea. The story line is essentially a bodice-ripper with standard characters including the lovely, sexually starved widow, the too handsome but evil and highly sexual man, the married guy who truly ...more
May 08, 2011 Adrianna rated it it was ok
I was not overly impressed with this book. With the setting of the book taking place in a small town in Louisiana in the 1920's with women petitioning to get the right to vote. I was not wild about this book and am not sure if it had to do with the fact that the main character sways between trying to be a prim and proper Southern woman and then skinny dipping in the local river and having a wild romp in the barn with the hired help.

At times I found myself actually cringing and finding this unbel
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Loraine Despres is a best-selling novelist and screenwriter. Her first novel, the rollicking Southern love story, The Scandalous Summer of Sissy LeBlanc, was a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Pick, a Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club featured selection. It became a national best-seller and is now in its 25th printing. It begins: “When you get to be a certain age, you realize that ...more
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“[Belle]'d fallen in love with him at fifteen, galloping down clay roads with the leaves of autumn swirling around them. They'd discovered the nooks and crannies of passion in his mother's darkened parlor on a rolling sea of dark wine velvet, amid a flotilla of lacy white antimacassars...” 0 likes
“Belle turned around. She looked down at her hands, hardened with work. They might have been city hands once, but they weren't anymore, and they never would be again, no matter how much cream she slathered on them. She'd made a place for herself.” 0 likes
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