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The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove

3.76  ·  Rating Details ·  1,902 Ratings  ·  257 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 na
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published August 17th 2010 by Crown
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(showing 1-30)
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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
Sep 21, 2010 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
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 04, 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 18, 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
Apr 11, 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
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.
Sep 17, 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 23, 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
Dec 29, 2013 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 10, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Dec 14, 2016 2js2as rated it liked it
Enjoyed the writing and the story. Had a bit of profanity and sex which made me not like it quite as much as I would have otherwise.

Story of a girl in Nashville with a dysfunctional family and how she manages. Made me grateful for a loving family!
Sep 24, 2010 Diane rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Born in 1951, Bezellia was named after her father's ancestor, a woman who fought off Indians who attacked their Nashville settlement. Young Bezellia wore her ancestor's moniker proudly, hoping to live up to the first Bezellia's name.

Bezellia's father was a wealthy and busy doctor, from a well respected Nashville family. Her mother was a woman from 'the wrong side of the tracks' who desperately desired to fit into Nashville society. She was an unhappy woman, of whom Bezellia said "Mother with a c
Dec 03, 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,
Sep 29, 2010 Brenda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
Dani Peloquin
Aug 22, 2011 Dani Peloquin rated it liked it
I heard about this book through a podcast and downloaded the sample onto my Kindle. The second I read the first paragraph I rushed to the library to check it out! At just under 300 pages, this novel flies by. I read it over one weekend and could have read it within one day if I didn't have prior commitments. However, when it ended, I felt a bit let down like I had expected more of the characters and writing. Still, it is worth a read if you're looking for something to get lost in for a bit.

Oct 28, 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
Mar 06, 2013 Vicki rated it really liked it
This is a book I’ve had sitting on my bookshelf for about a year. It was also one of the first books I pulled off the shelf when I decided that in 2013 I wanted to read mainly books that I’ve had for a while but haven’t read yet.

I loved “Looking For Salvation At The Dairy Queen” by this author, so figured I’d like this book too. And I did!

To be honest, it took me a few chapters before I started getting interested in what was going on. Once I was, I was fully engrossed.

I loved the relationships i
Aug 11, 2011 Kristen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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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