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The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  1,459 ratings  ·  221 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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Digging to America by Anne TylerThe Chosen One by Carol Lynch WilliamsGirl in Translation by Jean KwokLovesong by Alex MillerThe Improper Life of Bezellia Grove by Susan Gregg Gilmore
Back Head Close Ups
5th out of 108 books — 14 voters
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeGone with the Wind by Margaret MitchellThe Help by Kathryn StockettThe Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark TwainMidnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt
Best Southern Books
200th out of 441 books — 605 voters

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Community Reviews

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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
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
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 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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
Linda Johnson
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
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
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,
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
Jameica Cotton
The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove depicts the story of a young girl who struggles with the idea of "wanting to be loved." She faces major obstacles with her family and a young man whom she knows she will never be able to have relations with. Bezellia tries to overcome every curveball that is thrown her way. As an entire book, it was a good read. The ending could have been better. I think there could have been an explanation after Bezellia drives Samuel home. Although Bezellia knew that this wa ...more
Susan Gregg Gilmore has told a wonderful story with The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove. Bezellia is an immediately appealing character, wise beyond her years and growing up in unappealing times. Gilmore ties up the story's threads in a satisfying way, giving her readers insight into family, how parents mustn't try to fix their children or their children's problems, and how most people are a bundle of good and bad.

Most white people, that is. The African-Americans in this story are nothing less
Amber Keck
Bezellia Grove lives a life of prosperity. Belonging to a prominent family said to have been living in Nashville since it's beginning, 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 life will never be easy.

Bezellia's story is one of the best I have read in a long time. The emotions and situation
This book is based during the time in the U.S. when you couldn't be a African American person and eat at the same table as the whites, go to the same bathrooms, eat in the same restaurants, date or marry interracially, ride in the front of the bus, ...... Life was not easy for anyone who broke the unspoken rules and Bezellia Grove broke many. She really didn't have parents that told her right from wrong, her mother being an alcoholic and her father not being there most of the time....
I liked th
McGuffy Morris
In her second novel, Susan Gregg Gilmore takes us back to a time and place to tell an important story. In this novel we re-visit the American South of the 1950s-1960s. The book deals with issues of race, segregation, societal status and cultural situations.

We are introduced to the Grove family, a longtime, prominent and highly respected family of Nashville. Bezellia is named after a revered descendant of historical as well as family importance.

Bezellia strives to live up to familial expectations
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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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