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Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady

4.03 of 5 stars 4.03  ·  rating details  ·  1,117 ratings  ·  123 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 September 15th 1990 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published January 1st 1985)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,196)
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Sarah Keliher
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
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!
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.
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.
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
Nicky Wheeler-Nicholson
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 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those who are not easily offended
Shelves: 2008, humor, memoirs
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
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.
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
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
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
Morgan Lillian
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
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
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.
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.
Janis Ian
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.
Donna Davis
Bear in mind that this review is being written by a Yankee. My mother was born in the south, but I have not even visited since I was five years old, so I can't claim any real sense of heritage, apart from a few really kick-ass, cholesterol laden recipes. And the one southerner to whom I loaned this book was deeply, deeply offended by it.

Suffice to say, it is edgy humor, graphic in places. King is not particularly afraid of boundaries, and this clearly is what accounts for some of the 'failure' t
Marla Glenn
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.)
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
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.
This was my first experience reading Florence King and I laughed so hard my friends just stared at me. Her writing style is hilarious.
Women Write About Comics
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.
If you like to laugh out loud as you read, this book is for you
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
Although I wasn't hooked initially, I quickly became so after about 30 pages. Things improved further as Florence began college and started suffering the rampant and unashamed sexism of the age, from both men and women. The book also reflects the endemic racism of the time (1940/50s).

Despite this, the book was a delight... it didn't take itself too seriously and included some brilliant female characters, not least Florence.

"Confessions..." provided me with my first and long overdue definition
AJ LeBlanc
I love book group. Not only do I get to hang out with a bunch of people I like and talk about books, I get to read books that I never would have picked up on my own. Welcome to Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady. I read a lot of memoirs, but this one never would have stood out for me. I didn’t know anything about Florence King, so when this was chosen for our September meeting, I was looking forward to something new. (Yes, September book group. If you’re also behind on book reviews, let’s hol ...more
I tend to think that longwinded stories about one’s childhood belong in the therapist’s office and not on the pages of a book, so when Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady opened with numerous zany anecdotes about Florence King’s childhood, I groaned.

I’m glad I didn’t just ditch the book, though, because once King began recounting her school and college life, the misanthropic humour began to suit the material better. Growing up in mid-20th-century Washington D.C., schooled in how to be a lady b
I only gave this book three stars, and yet I devoured it on one day. So clearly, there is something compelling about it. It's a story of a life, unblinkingly told. Not a wildly exotic life, just a life. But unflinchingly open. I don't feel changed, but I feel satisfied. So I guess that makes it a good read but not a must read. Unless, of course, you want a new definition of what it means to be feminine, to be a lady, and still do your life your way. Then it's a must read.
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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...
Southern Ladies and Gentlemen With Charity Toward None: A Fond Look At Misanthropy The Florence King Reader Reflections in a Jaundiced Eye When Sisterhood Was in Flower

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