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Bed & Breakfast

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Penguin is pleased to reintroduce readers to ?born storyteller? (The Washington Post) and New York Times bestselling author Lois Battle and her delightful holiday tale of Josie Taternall and her South Carolina bed and breakfast. After her best friend's narrow brush with death, Josie decides that life is too short to let old grievances stand in the way of family togetherness. This year, she resolves, her three grown daughters?the girls she raised so carefully yet with such mixed results?will come home for Christmas. With her uncanny ear for Southern sensibility and her sharp-eyed wit, Battle gives us the perfect upstairs/downstairs comedy and a portrait of a family in all its tender, touching, and flawed glory that readers young and old will cherish.

372 pages, Paperback

First published August 25, 2009

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Lois Battle

13 books51 followers

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5 stars
146 (12%)
4 stars
321 (27%)
3 stars
480 (41%)
2 stars
167 (14%)
1 star
40 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 154 reviews
Profile Image for The Dusty Jacket.
279 reviews26 followers
April 28, 2022
Josie Tatternall, military widow turned Bed & Breakfast proprietor, is about to reunite her three grown daughters for the holidays. Following a sudden medical emergency of one of her closest friends, Josie realizes the fragility and uncertainty of life and decides that there is no time like the present to bring her estranged family together after ten long years apart. But will her three headstrong daughters agree? Can the beauty and majesty of Christmas yield hope and forgiveness and unite this broken family? Josie is about to find out.

I began this book with very high expectations. After all, the cover is brimming with glowing reviews: “Full of warmth, humor, and characters I completely adore,” touted author Dorothea Benton Frank and “An irreverent holiday treat,” exclaimed the Chicago Tribune. Author Cassandra King said the characters in Battle’s book were “wonderfully eccentric” and “heartwarming” who have “become her friends”. But alas, you truly can't judge a book by its cover and my experience with this story and its characters left me feeling more bah humbug than holly and jolly. Before delving further, let me explain how I rate books—50% of my review is about the book itself (story, characters, pace, themes, etc.) and the other 50% is how the book left me feeling (enlightened, hopeful, disturbed, retrospective, etc.). With a rating of 2/5 stars, the latter far outweighed the former as I am still reeling with contempt at such an aggravating cast of characters. Allow me to elaborate without spoiling the story too much…

First, let me go down the list of main characters that ran the gamut of predictable and overused stereotypes: Josie, the dutiful military wife who puts her own wants and needs last; Josie’s domineering and womanizing military husband, Bear; Cam, Josie’s eldest who fled small town South Carolina for the bright lights of New York only to be rudely awakened by the fact that she is a very small fish in a huge pond; Lila, middle child, doting daughter, and perfect Southern wife who seemingly leads an idyllic, charmed life; and Evie, Josie’s youngest who was a one-time runner-up in the Miss South Carolina pageant and who uses her legs and lashes to their full advantage.

Second, it was actually surprising to read a book, written by a woman, with so many unlikeable female characters. The daughters were all self-centered, selfish, whiny, immature, and just plain insufferable. Josie was a little more tolerable, but it’s one thing to be loyal to a husband who is a known philanderer (at least she respects and honors her vows) and quite another to pledge allegiance to a friend who—more likely than not—had abused her trust and taken advantage of their friendship. This makes Josie more of a chump than a champion. Overall, I’ve never met a more contemptible set of women that I disliked a lot, respected less, and who fell victim to their own self-destructive behaviors and personalities. Oddly, it was the men (Josie’s brother-in-law, Cam’s love interest, and Lila’s husband) who came across as decent, sympathetic, reliable, honorable, and morally grounded.

This was the first book by Lois Battle that I’ve read. The Florabama Ladies’ Auxiliary & Sewing Circle is still on my bookshelf and, rather than potentially throw the baby out with the bathwater, I will be giving Battle another try to see if her female leads fare any better in this book.

I’ll end this review by mentioning a sentiment of Josie’s that she recalls several times throughout the book as she looks at the lives of her grown daughters: she did the best she could. Unfortunately, I believe Battle could have done a little better for all of the women in the Tatternall family.
Profile Image for Amy.
Author 2 books151 followers
January 4, 2009
Sorry-- I just wasn't thrilled with this one, even though it's a local author and is set in Beaufort. A little too over the top for me with some (most) of the characters.

From the Publisher
Ten years of family secrets, misunderstandings, and recriminations have kept the Tatternalls apart - until Josie, a military widow suddenly alerted to mortality when one of her best friends keels over during a bridge game, impulsively invites her three grown daughters home for the holidays at her gracious South Carolina bed-and-breakfast. Cam, Josie's eldest, is her father's daughter - headstrong, smart, fearless, and utterly hopeless when it comes to making peace with either her family or herself. Years ago, she acquired the cynical veneer born of living too long in New York City and watching her writerly dreams fade. Still reeling from a breakup with the man she loves, she heads south heartily skeptical of the comforts of home and hearth. For Cam, this will be a season of shocks and surprises. Lila, the poised and perfect stay-at-home mother of two, lives near Josie in Hilton Head and is experiencing the slow disintegration of her own essentially loveless marriage. She dreads the prospect of this family reunion - especially the return of her black sheep, brilliant older sister, Cam. Yet, astonishing even herself, this is the Christmas when Lila finally will rebel. Evie, the all-too-candid baby of the family, routinely "shares" her family's secrets in her advice column for a Savannah newspaper. But even Evie has never created a scene like the tableau she stages at this Christmas dinner - when she arrives on the arm of her latest love, a rich man old enough to be her father....
Profile Image for Linda.
528 reviews
December 7, 2020
Well, I did finish it but it's definitely dated the attitudes in the book are what I would call "small town". For instance, was it necessary to describe the valet at the restaurant as "a black valet"? Did that add to the story? No. There are several places in the book where race is pointed out unnecessarily but the author took pains to make Cam's best friend in NY an enlightened black woman, which I'd hoped would shake some enlightenment into the characters. It's a book written about an older woman, her relationship with her grown daughters and their families and the woman's friends but it was predictable and not a book I'd recommend.
898 reviews22 followers
April 12, 2010
I was hoping to take my mind off of the horrors of politics and negative news and such this week by reading a lightweight fiction on the plane.... Sadly, I'm afraid this was just TOO light-weight and empty for me...... the writer was wonderful at conveying a sense of place and drawing one in... Beaufort, NC IS a lovely place and I felt it..... but the characters were too shallow, vacuous, self-absorbed..... and very clearly terrified of anything non-Republican, though such a thing was never uttered it was clear. Despite dropping a few crumbs to caring about things other than their own self-absorbed life of bridge and worrying about the unconventionality of children.... it was just so apparent that the writer has no interest in life beyond the narrow american world she'd created for her characters and the hardship Josie endured as a military wife, moving to bases all over the place, 'even foreign countries'! (How Horrid her inference was!)..... so.... this rates very low on the 'star' ranking..... The book cost $15 and I could certainly get such shallowness for free at the library or much more cheaply on the spinning rack at the drug store. Sorry Lois, you lose.....
Profile Image for Sara.
275 reviews12 followers
October 21, 2009

The back cover doesn't accurately portray the depression of this novel. If the novel’s purpose was to make one feel great about their family, it succeeded. I could not relate to the hateful, selfish, and rotten children in whom Josie places her hope. All Josie wants is a nice family Christmas and that is such a disaster that I am surprised she doesn’t die from heartbreak. I understand that families are flawed, but the only likeable character was Josie and I don’t know why she even bothered—she’d have been better off inviting the neighbors over for Christmas dinner. I was very frustrated with this disaster of a novel—perhaps I should write my Christmas family memories which were so much more wonderful and loving. I resent this novel and the oafs depicted in it. Take this book with you to make your holiday seem bright and wonderful as your family cannot be as awful as those depicted in this book.
Profile Image for Elinor.
Author 3 books164 followers
January 20, 2019
The rather boring title refers to the B&B operated in a stately Southern home occupied by a military widow named Josie, who has always been a bit of a doormat. Her husband Bear was an alpha male who cheated on her and she mostly raised the three girls on her own. Now she invites her three grown daughters, all completely different and set in their own ways, home for the first big family Christmas in many years. Sparks fly when the three adult daughters meet again, and poor Josie is left to cope as best she can. I found the characters to be very good. As the mother of three grown daughters myself, I found the conflict quite believable. And the book has a happy ending, which is always a bonus for me.
Profile Image for Kathleen Payne.
435 reviews1 follower
February 27, 2016
I was looking for a pick up and read book and simply sit back and enjoy. Bed and Breakfast was an easy read, I enjoyed it, but I can't say that I'll remember reading it 6 months from now. The personalities of the daughters were a little too predictable and I was wondering, "are these book characters, or is the author writing about one of my girlfriend family with 3 daughters?" I'm West Coast, this book takes place in North Carolina, so, it must have been something I read in the book. Like I mentioned earlier, the memory of this book will just blurr into my memory bank of life!
Profile Image for Cindy (BKind2Books).
1,497 reviews31 followers
January 1, 2018
This was a bit dated (written in the late 90s) but it was still very enjoyable. The story revolves around Josie who operates a bed-and-breakfast in her Beaufort home. She's the widow of a retired military man and decides to bring her 3 grown daughters (and their families) home for Christmas. The daughters are each struggling with their own lives. The daughters are somewhat stock characters. There's Cam, the daughter who left for New York and is struggling with career and love. There's Lila, the daughter who stayed close to home and has a husband who was just elected to the state legislature. Lila has 2 ungrateful children and a sweet husband who does nothing for her and then runs into an old friend. Finally, there's Evie who's living in Charleston writing a column that puts the foibles of her family on display. She is the least sympathetic of all of them. Josie has tried for years to accommodate everyone and during this Christmas as her children each find their way, so does she and through several upheavals, by the next Christmas, there's a new more assertive woman.

Quotes to remember:

...born dumb and had a relapse (what a great insult!)

...when you think about your life, it just spins out so fast it's like a spool of thread you've dropped and you're watching it roll across a polished floor.

I do think a house is like a person...much more interesting if it has a history.

...long enough for her to think about the nature of time - how it could stretch so that minutes seemed interminable, weighing on you so that you seemed to suffocate, how your fate could be changed in a heartbeat.

...thinking how strange it was that one changed so much on the outside while the inner self remained essentially the same.
2 reviews
December 26, 2022
Have you ever had a La Croix? Know how it tastes like someone who had a strawberry earlier burped into a can of soda? That’s what this book reminds me of. Bland, predictable, and as soon as things get interesting, the flavor fizzles out into nothingness.

My biggest gripe is that the reader doesn’t actually experience the events of the book as the characters recap the events of the story through dialogue. As soon as something interesting is about to happen - bam, it cuts away and you’re left wondering, “was that a hint of raspberry? Or maybe strawberry?”

I could write a book of all the unfinished storylines in this book. The Cam/Bear relationship was never explored. Everything was just fine between Josie and Cam. No one confronted Evie. And don’t even get me started on Lila. I was so excited for Lila to call everyone out and be called out, and then it was over the next page.

I read this book because it was set around Christmastime, but it just solidified for me that the best gift I can give to the trash can is this book.
87 reviews5 followers
January 12, 2010
Why is it that when I really dislike a book it is harder to organize my thoughts! I just have a jumbled mess of criticisms circling around in my head.

This book started off okay. A lady in her 70's witnesses her friend's heart attack, decides time is fleeting and decides to make all her children come home for Christmas. Her oldest daughter and she do not get along or talk at all and her daughter has promised to never come home again. The middle daughter lives down the road in a giant mansion and feels oppressed by her role as mother, wife, and caregiver of her mother (although her mother does just fine without her), and the third is a blond bimbo gold digger type who plays up her dumbness in order to attract older men. The third also writes a column for the paper and usually includes some horrible story about their disfunctional family. So far so good! The set up takes way way too long (like 1/3 to 1/2 of the book) but at least it is still interesting up to this point. Although most of this set up takes place in flash backs about the alcoholic philandering Father and so on. In fact most of the book is driven by flashbacks with not enough plot to drive it forward.

Finally about half way through the book she gets the characters all together at the mother's house and absolutely NOTHING happens for a good 100 pages. For being so adamant about her kids coming home the mom certainly doesn't try to make the most of her time with them. She just continues on with her daily life and never really tries to talk with her oldest daughter (who is secretly pregnant with her ex-boyfriends child and worried about her career). Anyway, at first I thought the point was that the mother really never took time away from her obligations to be a mother and that she was going to realize this and change. I thought possibly that the author was trying to make this point until the chapter where the mother is sitting in church and has the ridiculous thought that she had done all she could for her children and it was just time to accept them how they were. I mean, her kids are like in their 40's so yeah, there really isn't much she can do now. But up to this point the author hasn't shown us any evidence that she EVER did anything for her kids. She did have an alcoholic husband who cheated on her all the time but that alone doesn't mean "she did all she could do". Whatever the reason, she really wasn't a very good mother. So for this to be the big "aha moment" in the book is almost laughable.

My next problem with the book is that none of the female characters ever have any insights of their own. The mom figures everything out by listening to the advice of her brother in law (who becomes her lover after the wife's death). The oldest sister comes to terms with her family by getting back together with her ex-boyfriend and the middle sister has to gain all her insight by having an affair with a man and then breaking up with him. I mean, it's supposed to be about a family becoming self aware and tolerant of one another. But I don't really see the change in anyone. It seems like the relationships just kind of improve because everyone falls in love and mellows out. They never really have conversations with one another but as long as their sex life was full somehow they managed to work it all out. So luckily there were men in all of their lives or they would never be anywhere!

So, the last complaint. As mentioned before, most of the book is spent inside the minds and memories of the characters with little going on in the plot to move us forward. So she pretty much wastes 3/4 of the book on this and then for the last several pages she jumps forward a year and has one of the characters give a big monologue about what happened in the last year. The happenings involved a marriage, a miscarriage, a death, etc. So it makes you wonder...why did she waste so much of the book on character development and omit all of these plot points playing out. THEY would have been much more interesting to read about than 4 women sitting in a room doing nothing! Anyway, there are many many other points that I could discuss with each of you but that would involve you having to read the book and I really don't want you to waste your time. Although the author does well in her description of people, places, and events she never seems to really pull her characters together or give them much depth. They all rely on others to solve their problems and most of that has to happen during some kind of sexual exploit. All in all this was an opening that had a lot of potential and really failed to accomplish what it set out to do!
Profile Image for Mary.
643 reviews37 followers
November 20, 2018
In Beaufort, South Carolina, Josephine Tatternall - a military widow turned Bed and Breakfast proprietor - is playing bridge with four friends when she witnesses her best friend Peatsy's narrow brush with death. As everyone else around her sits frozen in shock, Josie retains the presence of mind to calmly yet quickly call for an ambulance. As Peatsy is rushed off to hospital, Josie further recalls that she had even wished the young lady who was the emergency dispatcher a very merry Christmas before she hung up the phone.

With Christmas just around the corner, Josie continues to ponder the strange feeling of calmness she felt in the midst of Peatsy's medical crisis. She comes to the conclusion that life is too short to hold grudges; and that to continue to let such grievances stand in the way of your family togetherness is detrimental. Josie determines that in the end, family means everything. This year, Josie resolves to invite her three grown daughters - the girls she raised so carefully, yet with such mixed results - back home for the holidays.

With her own special brand of Southern charm and a sharp-eyed wit, Lois Battle delivers her most entertaining and emotional novel to date. Skillfully employing an uncanny ear for Southern sensibility, the author masterfully paints a family portrait that is tender, poignant and yet gloriously flawed. Family secrets, old misunderstandings, and unspoken loyalties are played out amidst the heightened expectations of the Christmas season - which guarantees joy and tears alike. The upstairs/downstairs comedies of a Southern inn make a perfect backdrop for this portrait of a family in all its tender, touching, and flawed glory and a love story that comes as suddenly as sunshine after the rain.

I must say that I absolutely loved this book. In my opinion, it was a brilliantly written and poignant story - written with such tenderness and honesty that I could immediately relate to each of the characters. There was such a tremendous sense of empathy and understanding for this family's plight that shone throughout this story, that Lois Battle is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. I would give this book a definite A+! and I look forward to reading more from this author in the future.
Profile Image for Julie.
53 reviews1 follower
June 25, 2013
I usually devour books... Have been known to stay up late reading, to get second copies of my paper books on the nook or iPad just so I can read "in the dark" while Himself is asleep, and was repeatedly admonished as a child to "get your nose out of that book!"

But this book languished, like a bag of chips in a flavor that wasn't as good as I'd hoped, repeatedly pushed aside in favor of something sweeter/saltier/grittier. I devoured about 4 others between the day I read the first and last pages of this one. I liked most of the characters, and I wanted to know how it ended, but somehow I just didn't connect with it. On the surface it sounded perfect for me, but there were little irritants that I found myself frustrated by again and again.... The name Dozier irritated me, for example, and I felt some characters and their names were sort of caricatures.
Profile Image for Jane.
102 reviews2 followers
January 29, 2015
I liked the story overall, but since I am the grammar police, I hard a hard time with all the typos.
62 reviews5 followers
March 16, 2016
I really didn't care for this one, because the characters weren't very likeable.
471 reviews5 followers
December 8, 2018
An interesting story about a dysfunctional family at Christmas.
Profile Image for denudatio_pulpae.
1,296 reviews20 followers
November 22, 2019
Opis z okładki głosi:
"Bestsellerowa książka Lois Battle to zabawna opowieść o rodzinie i relacjach między bliskimi ludźmi. To także pełna ciepła historia, do której chętnie powraca się przez cały rok."

Zabawna opowieść? Dla mnie zupełnie nie, może mam dziwne poczucie humoru, ale chyba ani razu się nie uśmiechnęłam podczas czytania.
Pełna ciepła historia? Moim zdaniem jest w niej tyle jadu, że aż się wylewa ze stron i można by obdarować kilka kąsających gadów.
Chętnie się do niej powraca przez cały rok? O nie! Nie ma takiej opcji. Przemęczyłam się z nią raz, nigdy więcej!

Nie mogę dokładnie opisać co mi się nie podobało nie zdradzając przy tym fabuły, więc powiem tylko, że jeżeli to miała być zwyczajna rodzina i standardowe jej problemy, to moja (chociaż też nie idealna) jest chyba niezwykła.

Po lekturze doszłam do wniosku, że jeżeli oczekuję trochę magii i klimatu świątecznego to muszę jednak zacząć szukać na półkach z ckliwymi romansidłami. Tam przynajmniej wiadomo czego się spodziewać :) W przypadku "Pensjonatu" jestem zaskoczona i to niestety negatywnie, moim zdaniem to bardzo smutna i dołująca książka, a tego przed i tak w tym roku dla mnie smutnymi Świętami zupełnie nie potrzebowałam.
Profile Image for Laura Edwards.
1,001 reviews8 followers
August 19, 2021
Years ago, I read a different book that I really liked by Lois Battle called "War Brides". "Bed and Breakfast" was not quite as good, though I do enjoy Battle's writing.

I took a star off for a couple of reasons. A big reason was because I did not really like 3 of the 4 main characters (though Cam isn't as bad by the end). How did such a nice woman as Josie raise such horrid children? I did, however, like the character of Reba, Cam's friend. The last part of the book is another reason I took a star off. I would have preferred a little longer book in order to follow the storyline for another year as opposed to the summing up in dialogue and flashbacks we got here. Not a good decision. I did like the very ending though in regard to Josie and Dozier.
154 reviews
June 18, 2019
Too bad authors such as Lois Battle, Belva Plain, and Maeve Binchy are no longer with us. Reading the type of books these writers authored is to fall in like with the characters and feel as if you are in the community of the novel. I began to understand characters in this book that I didn't initially like. I felt as if I was swept along in a miniseries. Maybe some parts of the book drag on a bit -- the Christmas Eve church service comes to mind. But some of the suspense aspects and outcomes were realistic and 'human'. I did smile because this book tries to bridge generations by being a tad overly politically correct. Still, however, an entertaining engaging read.
December 26, 2019
This is the story of Josie, a Southern woman of a certain age, and her complicated relationships with her military husband, three daughters, and extended family. This novel is relevant even though it was written 23 years ago.

There are many characters in this novel, some we get to know well, others just there for plot points. Most take actions that are contrary to my nature, but that’s why I enjoy reading - to explore life through another lens.

If you enjoy Southern fiction with a strong sense of place, dysfunctional families, and main characters in their 70s, consider this backlist novel.
289 reviews
February 13, 2020
This is an engrossing family drama---a Southern family----with a mother and three grown daughters who are all very different from one another and estranged from one another, based on past family drama and perceived insults. Now it is Christmas time, and their widowed mother is hoping to have them all together again in her home in Beaufort, SC to relive memories and ties that are warm ones. This family was interesting to read about, and the story goes in various ways unforeseen by the reader. Entertaining, with good points made by the author.
1,666 reviews7 followers
January 2, 2019
Began at Christmas and ended the next Christmas. The setting is mostly at a South Carolina Bed and Breakfast. Read it in 2001 but didn't write anything about it because so many things were going on at my work place and in my private life but since it is still on my shelves I'm going to put it with my books that take place at Christmas and rate it "OK".
22 reviews1 follower
April 30, 2020
I am reading one book after another, as we are in the virus stay at home chapter in our daily lives which means that I am getting characters confused. It took me about one third in to the story before I
understood who some of the characters were. Just a bit confusing at first, but when my brain got in gear, this was a good. read. A bit predictable, but still very good. Anything from LoisBattle is worth the time.
Profile Image for Les.
787 reviews11 followers
December 30, 2022
My Original Thoughts (2001):

Entertaining story about a family living in the South. Reminded me a little bit of the dysfunctional family in The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. Somewhat predictable, yet still enjoyable. I will definitely read more by this author. Gentle fiction/fluff. Not very deep.

My Current Thoughts:

Well, I never did read anything more by this author. I don't remember anything about the book, which isn't surprising given it was pretty fluffy.
145 reviews
June 28, 2020
These were people I related to: family, women who wore aprons and white gloves. 1960’s life.

The novel gave insights into family - the childhood hurts that change us, the various kinds of marriage commitment or failure to commit, sibling rivalry, the terrible Christmas when it all came unglued.

The characters were real people - genuine and flawed. I really enjoyed this novel.
Profile Image for Terri Borkgren.
243 reviews4 followers
December 20, 2022
Bed & Breakfast by Lois Battle
This story theme is about a military family and choices each daughter makes and the end the choices their Mom makes. Relationships with co-workers and friends provide a book with a lot of growing for each one. How parent's upbringing as well as their choices show the reader how consequences result.
Profile Image for Rachael Mellen.
76 reviews1 follower
September 13, 2018
This book reminded me of Jan Karen's but in the secular world. The story centres on Josie, a widow running a B&B in South Carolina, and her extended family. Enjoyable though slightly rambling. I enjoyed the older characters best, could have skipped the adventures of the younger generation.
Profile Image for Claudia.
166 reviews
November 10, 2018
Loved it! The story line was great, the characters portrayed as those you knew them. Family dynamics pretty much like most families. Set in the south, the accuracy of customs was right on. Read it...you'll love it!
Profile Image for Rebekah Carter.
16 reviews
June 2, 2019
I tend to read some fairly heavy hitters. Needed something light but not tooo light if you kwim. Fun read with wit, insight, and a flashback to the early '90's. I'm now saying "I remember when" and this is a perfect reminder!
January 3, 2020
This appeared to be a heartwarming Christmas reunion story. However, each character is so self-absorbed, bitter, and vain who all seem to be enjoying their perpetual pity parties. No real character changes, no humor to break up the whining, just annoying women who are jealous of each other.
Profile Image for Dee Reed.
27 reviews
July 23, 2020
Josie Tatternall, the owner of a Bed and Breakfast, decides it's time to get all of her family together for the Christmas season. The author gives us a look at the different characters lives and makes it interesting.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 154 reviews

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