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The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove

3.76  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,816 Ratings  ·  252 Reviews
Nobody in Nashville has a bigger name to live up to than Bezellia Grove. As a Grove, she belongs to one of city’s most prominent families and is expected to embrace her position in high society. That means speaking fluent French, dancing at cotillions with boys from other important families, and mastering the art of the perfect smile.

Also looming large is her given name B
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published August 17th 2010 by Crown
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13th out of 111 books — 19 voters
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226th out of 494 books — 691 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jan 21, 2016 Stacy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
Let me start this review by saying... THIS BOOK WAS AN AMAZING HEART WRENCHING BEAUTIFULLY WRITTEN MASTERPIECE OF FORBIDDEN LOVE!!! Whoa, now that I got that out of my system I will tell you why I love this book so much. I live in the country where there is still a lot of closed minded racist people. I have one friend who is in interracial relationship and I see how hard her relationship is for her. So I have always wondered, how hard was an interracial relationship during the time of segregatio ...more
Maia B.
Maybe I shouldn't have read this so soon after finishing both "The Help" and "To Kill a Mockingbird" for the hundredth time. Obviously I shouldn't have. I should have waited a few weeks and read something with a completely different idea, like a Jane Austen, say, instead of plunging into "Bezellia Grove" with the expectation that it would be profound, fascinating, well-written, full of characters I loved, and - bottom line - a good book.

Well, I was disappointed in every category. Profound? Defin
Aug 06, 2011 Heather rated it it was amazing
Bezellia Grove is an young and affluent Southern girl who has inherited her unusual name from a long line of affluent Bezellias. But this Bezellia is more than she appears and is living a most unusual life behind the closed doors of her plantation style home in Tennessee. Though she’s passionate and expressive, Bezellia and her younger sister Adeliade live in fear of their sometimes abusive and always neglectful mother, while the girls’ father is unusually quiet and absent most of the time. This ...more
Lydia Presley
This is the year for me to read books revolving around the South in the 60's - and each book is good in it's own way, and has its own faults.

The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove was an interesting enough book - the main character, Bezellia, was likeable enough, her mom was horrible enough, her dad was neglectful enough and her sister crazy enough.. but still I was left with an unfulfilled sense when I finished the book. Only after thinking about it for a while did I finally pin-point the source.
Jan 18, 2016 Sarah rated it it was ok
Nice and easy Southern Chick Lit. No new ground is covered here, just an easy and entertaining story. Sometimes that is just what is needed.
Anne  (Booklady) Molinarolo
I don’t get the Title: THE IMPROPER LIFE OF BEZELLIA GROVE. Could it be that Bezellia Grove bucks the “gentile” South of the 1960’s by her relationships with the poor boy from the other side of the lake? Or that she sees Mazelle Cooper and Nathaniel Stephenson as people rather than servants to the “big” house? Or she rebels against her mother who loves Gin and social status more than her two daughters? Or that like her namesake, young Bezellia sees her great love bleeding in her arms and can’t d ...more
I so enjoyed this story of Bezellia Grove. It reminded me a bit of Saving Ceecee Honeycutt & The Help, which I also loved. The author did a nice job delving into the personalities of the characters. I felt as though I knew Maizelle & Nathaniel. It was a sweet story, I would recommend it, & I will soon be reading this authors other novel, Salvation at The Dairy Queen.
Sep 07, 2010 Amy rated it it was amazing
I read The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove all in one sitting, swept up in Bezellia’s remarkable life and her moving quest to be loved the right way. Now I look forward to many more stories from the immensely talented Susan Gregg Gilmore, a powerful new voice in Southern literature.
Sep 07, 2011 ♥Xeni♥ rated it really liked it
Ugh, I stayed up way too late reading again. How will I do this when actual school starts?!

But I feel like this book was worth it. I feel like I've read a lot of books in the genre of the civil rights movement, but this one touched me. At first I was just feeling like it was just another tale of growing up, finding love (forbidden or not) and family trials. Yet, I think Bezellia's story will stay with me for a while.

Near the end I was really rooting for a different outcome.. But the political
Jun 26, 2011 Heather rated it liked it
3 1/2 stars (I really wish goodreads had the 1/2 star option). I quite enjoyed this book, but was left wanting a little more. The last page that gave a glimpse into the future wasn't enough. I think the characters neede a little more progression before the book ended (with the exception of the mother). All in all, this was a good look into 1960s southern privileged living, family dynamics, racial dynamics, etc. I could see some of myself in Bezellia, too, though not the family part (nothing even ...more
Maureen Melle
Nov 11, 2015 Maureen Melle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nicely Written with some memorable characters and a big story

I found this book to be fast and end reading. I felt a kinship with the book's heroine, Bezellia even though we come from very different backgrounds. She lives in a 200 year old mansion with her father, who is a doctor and has been named director of the hospital he practises at. Her mother is a Southern belle socialite who has psychiatric problems and has become alcoholic. Her sister, Adelaide is "special" and slow in her development.
May 07, 2011 Raina rated it it was amazing
The Improper Life of Bezillia Grove is the story of a girl who's life is as unconventional as her name. Bezellia lives a life of prosperity, belonging to a prominent family said to have been living in Nashville since it's beginning, so, of course, there are certain expectations of her. The 1960s and 70s deem to be rather difficult, as the country around her changes, as she changes, and as her family changes right before her eyes. She must learn to accept that people are weak, love is real, and l ...more
Sep 19, 2011 Rose rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The so called "improper" part of Bezellia's life was why the book was such a good read. That Bezellia grows up in a household with a cold, abusive mother & an absent, weak father & still manages to be a decent person is probably all due to the two African American employees of the manor she calls home. The loving cook/housekeeper & the groundskeeper are the two adults she can always count on & trust & it was extremely sweet to read about their connection when in that time rac ...more
Corpus Amos
Oct 27, 2015 Corpus Amos rated it liked it
This southern novel could have been so much better and I was SORELY disappointed in the ending. Bezellia Grove is the daughter of a wealthy family, in the post-slavery era, who develops deep attachments to her black staff. Breaking all the rules, she falls in love with her butler's son Samuel. Forbidden love keeps these two apart and Bezellia finds other love interests throughout her life but can never forget Samuel. Instead of developing this into some kind of ending where they are finally able ...more
Michele Whitecotton
Jan 01, 2014 Michele Whitecotton rated it it was amazing
This is the second book I've read by this author and I loved it. I read the first, The Funeral Dress, just a couple weeks ago and loved it so much I sought out others. These two books were so much better and had so much more depth than their respective synopses lead you to believe. The subject matter is very emotional. I loved Bezellia as a character, she was fantastic. She grew up in the most dysfunctional of families but managed to save herself and her sister. I highly recommend this book and ...more
Dec 16, 2010 Angela rated it it was ok
Hmmm. Something about this book felt flat to me. Bezillia supposedly falls in love with Samuel, but their relationship just didn't work. Samuel didn't seem that great, and he didn't really seem to like Bezillia much, at least in my opinion. The best part of this book is Bezillia's relationship with her mother. That story line was the only part of the book that felt authentic to me. This book is just odd.
Annie Fyfe
Jan 22, 2015 Annie Fyfe rated it really liked it
This is the story of the upbringing of a girl in Tennessee in the 60s. She is part of a rich family that has their fair share of problems. The book follows her through middle school, high school, and a bit beyond that. There are many issues with her family and as Bezellia grows she starts to learn why people end up the way they do and who she can truly count on as members of her family.
I rarely read books set in the south in this time period, and I’m not sure why because I usually love them. Sim
Jul 20, 2014 Kristina rated it really liked it
I loved this book! The main character, Bezelia, was my favorite. I enjoyed how well the author wrote, and it gave a feeling of being there and watching all of the events unfold. However, I do wish that some of the other supporting characters were more developed. I wanted the book to delve deeper into their lives.(SPOILER ALERT...stop reading now, unless you want to know what happens!) For example, I wanted to know more about Maizelle. I wanted Bezelia to bring her up out of the basement, particu ...more
Kristina Brownell
May 29, 2015 Kristina Brownell rated it liked it
I wanted to love this book. I did enjoy the historical aspects. A rich Southern girl growing up in the hotbed of the Civil Rights movement. Unfortunately, I didn't really like Bezellia....or any of her relationships...which is unfortunate because the entire book is about her relationships. Relationships with boys or with her parents and grandparents. Relationships with her black house servants, sister and roommates at college. Not a single one is healthy or admirable.

This story is not particuar
As a Northener who went to a Southern college many years ago, I really enjoy reading voices from the South describing their different way of life. This book, written in an easy to read manner deals very seriously with complex issues of race and parent-child relationships among others. I thoroughly recommend it.
Jo (Bloomin'Chick)
A very good southern read. While it revisits some common themes found in southern fiction set in the 60's and at first I found myself thinking of The Divine Secret Of The Ya Ya Sisterhood, The Secret Life of Bees and Fannie Flagg, it surprised me by finding a voice and story all its' own.
Deena Scintilla
Jun 27, 2011 Deena Scintilla rated it it was amazing
Shelves: southern-ladies
Read this in a day. Good coming-of-age story set in TN in the 60's during the civil rights movement and deals with first (& forbidden) love, family secrets, hypocrisy, with a touch of the Vietnam war.
Oct 18, 2010 Deborah rated it liked it
I liked the book a lot. I know it must be hard to end a book...but I think the ending could have been done better. A little to abrupt. But still..a very good book.
Sep 10, 2014 Shannan rated it really liked it
The sophomore effort of Susan Gregg Gilmore did not disappoint! I felt like I've read this book before and indeed I have - YaYa sisterhood , The Help, The Cotton Queen, and Billie Letts all rolled into one. This book was a fast enjoyable read but as I finish and reflect, I have a nagging sense I never did fully understand just who Bezellia truly was. I understood almost every other character but the one central main person who carries the name of the book? Don't really get her. Also the very las ...more
Oct 31, 2015 Susan rated it liked it
Shelves: historical
Romance: a few teenage experimentation with sex somewhat detailed.
Language: medium including religious.
Characters: well defined

This is a very thought provoking story of life in the 1960’s. This family had a whole lot of challenges from infidelity, alcohol addiction, prejudice and just being different. It is not a very happy ride and the ending left me feeling kind of hopeless. I was not a fan of the ending. It made me wonder what it was all for.
I also did not like that the only real r
Linda Johnson
Apr 19, 2015 Linda Johnson rated it it was amazing
I absolutely adored Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen and I think I loved The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove even more.
This was a sweet story and an easy, fast read. I loved Bezellia's character and even saw a bit of myself in her. Set in Nashville, TN during the 60's, this coming of age novel takes on race, class, alcoholism, infidelity, mental health, a dysfunctional family and an interracial relationship.
The ending saddened me because I was rooting for Bezellia and Samuel's relation
Friends of  Linebaugh Library
May 07, 2011 Friends of Linebaugh Library rated it it was amazing
The Improper Life of Bezillia Grove is the story of a girl who's life is as unconventional as her name. Bezellia lives a life of prosperity, belonging to a prominent family said to have been living in Nashville since it's beginning, so, of course, there are certain expectations of her. The 1960s and 70s deem to be rather difficult, as the country around her changes, as she changes, and as her family changes right before her eyes. She must learn to accept that people are weak, love is real, and l ...more
Dec 05, 2010 Pam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When “they” say that the lifestyles of the rich and famous are not as glorious as we simple lay people imagine, the infamous “they” are probably referring to something along the lines of pretty little, poor little, rich girl, Bezellia Grove.

Born in a stately southern mansion on the outskirts of Nashville, baby Bezellia has, not shoes, but a legacy and a name to fill. Wearing her full name (unabridged as her predecessors chose before her, opting for Zee, Bea, and others) like a blessing a curse,
Nov 01, 2012 Stephanie rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2012
Hurricane Sandy decided not to go crazy in my neck of the woods, even though I had prepared myself by getting all the books I could. I did, however, get to tuck into this gem and I was quite pleased with the result.
I found that, even though there wasn't a huge event going on, a war being fought, or a love scorned, I could not put the book down. It was about life and trying to figure out where you belong in it. Rather than being a book about a girl going crazy to defy her parents, it is set in th
Tara Chevrestt
This was an easy, entertaining read, but I was expecting a bit more. After all, it's about what in the 60s and 70s was a very touchy topic: interracial dating. However, despite the fact that the caucasian heroine, Bezellia has a crush on an African American boy, it doesn't really get very in depth on the issue.

Rather, the book's main moral, at least to me, was that being rich, white, having a well known name, and residing in a big house doesn't make you any happier than being poor, brown or blac
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Susan Gregg Gilmore was born in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1961. Although her artist mother bought her daughter her first easel and box of paints when she was five, it was her fathers love of family storytelling that captured their young daughters attention.

Gregg Gilmore knew at an early age that she wanted to write but was soon drawn to journalism not fiction. While at the University of Virginia, s
More about Susan Gregg Gilmore...

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