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Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady

4.03  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,273 Ratings  ·  142 Reviews
Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady is Florence King's classic memoir of her upbringing in an eccentric Southern family, told with all the uproarious wit and gusto that has made her one of the most admired writers in the country. Florence may have been a disappointment to her Granny, whose dream of rearing a Perfect Southern Lady would never be quite fulfilled. But after ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published October 1990 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 1985)
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else fine
May 18, 2007 else fine rated it really liked it
Shelves: womenwhokickass
I'm not sure what marketing genius decided to saddle this book with a pink floral cover. It's unfortunate and misleading.
Once I recommended this book to a soccer-mom type looking for something for her Southern Writers Book Club. I'm not sure what I was thinking. Possibly I was only remembering how hilarious this book is, and how I actually cry with laughing every time I read it (and I'm up to my tenth rereading at this point). Or maybe I remembered the inspirational coming-of-age aspects. I thi
Kate Quinn
Jul 19, 2009 Kate Quinn rated it it was amazing
I read this book at thirteen, and my world fell into place. No longer did I have to wonder why my loved ones annoyed me, why I didn't want to hang out with friends past a certain point, why I couldn't wrap my mind around the concept of solitary confinement as a punishment. I read "Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady" and realized I was a misanthrope. I've gone on to read everything else published by Florence King, but this book holds a special place. At once an autobiography, a comedy of error ...more
Rachel Smalter Hall
I LOVED Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady! I seriously considered giving this one five stars -- this was one of those rare instances when half-star ratings would have come in really handy.

So I differ from Florence King philosophically on several points (e.g. I'm neither a Monarchist nor a Republican), but you don't necessarily have to agree with someone to appreciate her, right?

King is one of the most hilarious and titillating authors I have ever read, and she is unapologetic about her femin
To this day, I am liable to call a boring, conventional lady a 'malkin' in my head or to think 'those who study Greek must take pains with dress' when I'm at a library convention. Thanks for keeping it real, Florence!
Apr 17, 2011 Lucy rated it really liked it
This book is a testament to why we need to have shops. I know it’s so much easier to buy a book with one click on Amazon but you can never replace the joy of perusing a book shop’s crammed shelves and coming across a book that you had not heard of. The cover and the testimonials sell it to you, this is what happened to me, whilst checking out the books in our fav book shop, ‘Gays The Word’ in Russell Square I came across this classic.

Yesterday I spent pretty much the whole day devouring it, almo
Dec 14, 2008 Jamie rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed this memoir by King. I laughed so hard at Granny and Jensy's descriptions of obstetrical hell that I nearly wet myself. Having lived a good portion of my early life in the south I am completely familiar with the phenomena of people coming to "stay awhile" and not departing for months/years so that also rang very true for me as well. Thanks for the opportunity to read this kayters...I really enjyed it.
Jan 06, 2009 Jo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can't do this book justice in an off-the-cuff review. It is too perfect. Maybe when I have more time. Buy an old (first published 1985, I think) copy if possible, as the cover will be one of several delightfully sleazy-looking designs, and everyone on the train will think you are reading a harlequin romance novel.
Nicky Wheeler-Nicholson
Feb 08, 2011 Nicky Wheeler-Nicholson rated it really liked it
Shelves: southern
This is one of the most brilliant and funniest books ever written about being a southern woman. It is purportedly the autobiography of Florence King. I say purportedly because who knows how accurate the details are. It doesn't matter because the truth is in the telling. There are so many great one liners in it that it's impossible to have a favorite although I'd say that "Like charity, schizophrenia begins at home," is a pretty good start. I bought a paperback edition in London when I was dealin ...more
Nov 21, 2008 Gail rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those who are not easily offended
Shelves: humor, memoirs, 2008
Florence gives us a picture of growing up in the south (well, in Virginia near D.C.) that's kind of funny and gets more interesting as the book progresses.

But Flarnz (as it's pronounced in the deep south) really gets on a roll when she goes to grad school at U. of Mississippi. The monlogues of southern women, with appropriate pronounciations, are hilarious and so true to life that one laughs out loud...and is irresisitably drawn to share them with others.

On a slightly more serious side, King's
Janis Ian
Nov 27, 2010 Janis Ian rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
I am forever grateful to Beth Flood, who handed me this and "Southern Ladies and Gentlemen" when I first moved to Nashville from LA and told me I'd learn more about my new culture and home from them than I'd learn in a hundred years by myself. These books have saved me from abject humiliation on more than one occasion, and been a light in the darkness on many others.
Oct 06, 2009 Mary rated it it was amazing
I read this book in college, and even though I'm not a Southern lady, King's story of coming of age and coming into her identity as a lesbian in the South in the 1940's and 50's is so roll-on-the-floor hilarious that I related to every page. This book is a triumphant shout out to being who you really are, despite having a crazy family.
Jul 16, 2013 Wesley rated it really liked it
I'm loathe to admit how much I enjoyed this, seeing that Southern humor is something I actively avoid. Somehow, though, King won me over. She manages to paint the lives of herself and those around her in a way that employs a certain element of caricature without becoming schtick or saccharine.
Joanna Doherty
Jun 28, 2015 Joanna Doherty rated it it was amazing
One of the funniest, laugh out loud books I have ever read. When I read I like to mark the funny or interesting quotes I find, and by the end of the novel I had bookmarks everywhere, like I was studying it. Ms. King's ability to describe the Southern experience is like no other. Her point of view from being an outsider, raised in a household which was unconventional at the time, and growing up only around adults provides such a unique perspective. Her trying to find her place in a world in which ...more
Jan 10, 2012 Nora rated it really liked it
When Florence King is funny, she's hysterically funny. There are places (the scene where she gets her diaphragm, for instance) where I had to put down the book because I was laughing so hard. She doesn't always reach that level of hilariousness, and sometimes I found myself wondering if she weren't exaggerating the Southern Gothic characters around her for effect (I must confess here that I've never lived farther south than Washington, D.C., so perhaps I'm reading this as a Yankee and would reco ...more
Aug 20, 2009 Morganelle rated it it was amazing
I just re-read this book after first encountering it in my Southern Women Writers course. In one sentence, I'd say this book is about Florence King's experience becoming her own woman in a culture that has a lot of expectations about what a woman should be. If I had another sentence, I'd add that this book is hilarious and bawdy and perfect for anyone who has ever felt like an outsider.

The first time around, the hilarious descriptions of Southern culture struck me most. This time, I still laughe
Aug 17, 2011 Karmon rated it really liked it
I usually avoid autobiographies and memoirs -- something about the ego involved in writing one puts me off. This book is an exception, perhaps it is as much about the women in Ms. King's life as it is about the author. The book is humorous, many of the stories have the tone and timing of often-told oral tales. The last quarter of the book focuses on King's coming out, which is handled with the same tone (but perhaps less) humor than the rest of the book. Her exploration of the "Southern lady" ta ...more
Kimberly Hudson
Jan 15, 2011 Kimberly Hudson rated it really liked it
What did I not think about this book? At times offended by the crude subject matter, at other times shocked by the complete lack of thoughts concerning God and ease of sexuality, I spent the entire read completely convulsed in giggles.

This book is refreshingly real and an interesting view of growing up before the glass ceiling was broken. I learned a lot.

How funny is this book? I took to reading sections to friends every chance I got.
Katie Havard
Feb 08, 2016 Katie Havard rated it it was amazing
Andy Ferguson was right about Florence King: "She put sentences on the page the way a gifted gymnast swings her body over a pommel horse or along the parallel bars: invisible effort in service of sheer delight." Also this book is filthy and funny as hell.
Nov 30, 2011 Sage rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Some interesting insights, and I appreciate the candour at least. It just left me cold in the end, nowhere near as witty as was billed on the front cover. Might have smirked a couple of times but certainly didn't laugh out loud (and in broad terms it is my kind of humour). Maybe I missed something by not being American, or of that era; but good writing should trancend that.
Sep 05, 2013 Marla rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography-memoir
Florence King is funny. Blunt. A razor sharp writer. Read her! Start with this memoir -- you won't be disappointed. (One caveat: her sexual situations are x-rated, but I think that's a good thing.)
Feb 28, 2016 Colleen rated it really liked it
I just finished reading a memoir about being raised female down in the Southern states, for which I’d had high expectations. (Major disappointment) I realized afterwards that I expected something along the lines of this book, which I read over 25 years ago. I realize now that this book is the bar that I set all my other “Southern” reads against. I’m going to have to go back and re-read it, but I do remember finding it extremely funny and, in my mind, the perfect memoir of what it means to be rai ...more
Jan 18, 2016 E rated it it was amazing
When Florence King died a few weeks ago, this is the book everyone recommended to read first (I was only familiar with her work in National Review). It did not disappoint. She has a way with words that gently poked (great) fun at her southern upbringing while simultaneously expressing great love for her parents and grandmother. And while I could never commend her sexual ethic, her dispatches from the field of romance were, again, riotously funny while yet still touching. And her descriptions of ...more
May 18, 2015 Renea rated it really liked it
I volunteer at a nursing home and a woman there randomly gave me this book and told me I might like it. I had pretty low expectations but felt obligated to read it because this woman would likely hound me with questions about. It took me a little bit of time to get into it, but by the end I really enjoyed it! It was a fascinating look at gender expectations in the South in the mid-20th century. I really identified with Florence's rebellious and decidedly unladylike personality. It was surprising ...more
Sarah Dobbs
May 03, 2009 Sarah Dobbs rated it really liked it
Loved it! This is a book to be read again and again - too funny! "Wasp Where is Thy Sting" is another of King's books that should not be passed by.
Nov 15, 2010 Spoonelicious rated it it was amazing
This was my first experience reading Florence King and I laughed so hard my friends just stared at me. Her writing style is hilarious.
Karen Pine
Sep 06, 2012 Karen Pine rated it really liked it
Witty, fast-paced and laugh out loud funny. You wonder where it's going .. and then Flo's sexuality raises its head (!)
Women Write About Comics
Feb 15, 2015 Women Write About Comics rated it really liked it
Ginnis writes: Erudite and furiously independent like her father, King struggles with the contradictory messages of what a “true” Southern lady is, as well as her the dawning realization of her own queerness. If you are from the South or know people from the South, you will recognize the archetypes in King’s memoir. But, King holds these archetypes over a flame, somewhere between reverence and destruction. It’s hilarious and frank and simultaneously oblique.

Read more at WWAC
Nancy L.
Oct 10, 2007 Nancy L. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you like to laugh out loud as you read, this book is for you
Erin Boyington
Jul 19, 2016 Erin Boyington rated it it was amazing

Growing up, I read Florence King's column because my parents had a subscription to The National Review. She was my favorite part of the entire magazine, mostly because of her way with words. I realize now how she reminds me of Oscar Wilde, Ambrose Bierce, P.G. Wodehouse, and a touch of David Sedaris.

And I wish that I had encountered her memoir Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady years ago. I heard of her memoir only because she died in the first week of
Dec 28, 2014 Courtney rated it really liked it
4.5 stars. Florence King is definitely a complicated person. She seems to embrace personality traits that were generically considered "unfeminine" during the era when she came of age- she is headstrong and stubborn, brazenly difficult, and tenaciously intelligent. What makes King's memoir really exceptional, though, is the way her disassociation from her Southern socialization does not lead to a full-scale renunciation of her family. There's no impulsive rejection of them, even though she doesn' ...more
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Born in Washington, D.C. in 1936 to a bookish British father and a tomboy American mother, Florence King spent her childhood living with her parents, her maternal grandmother, and her grandmother's maid.

King showed talent in French, but unable to pursue it as a major at American University, she switched to a dual major of history and English. She attended the University of Mississippi for graduat
More about Florence King...

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