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The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  2,073 Ratings  ·  278 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
Paperback, 272 pages
Published August 2nd 2011 by Broadway Books (first published August 17th 2010)
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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
Aug 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a southern coming of age story. I listened to the audio and the narrator was great. I liked the MC, Bezellia. I felt her pain. I like that she had a strong voice. I liked the way the author defined the relationships, especially with the help and her parents, and even her sister.

While this touched on civil rights, racism and family dysfunction, it was for the most part a light and fluffy read, which was just what I needed today. So 4 stars.
Sep 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 04, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
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.
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
Aug 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: southern-fiction
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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: southern
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
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
Mar 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the second book I have read by Susan Gregg Gilmore. The first was Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen. I have enjoyed both so much. Bezellia was the oldest daughter of a mother who drank too much and a father who was a doctor, and not home much. So her black nanny and the chauffeur brought up Bezellia and her strange sister Adelaide. Good southern book
Apr 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 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 rated it really liked it
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
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
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 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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.
Aug 21, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
After reading this authors first book I picked up this one thinking that it might be similar in style. It was written fairly similarly, but the subjects were different. Both are from a young girl growing up in the south kind of view, but this ones setting is a bit closer to home as I live about an hour from Nashville. The references to streets, towns, icons, and other places in the area are known to me which brings the book into sharper focus. I did like the story as there are many things that r ...more
Oct 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bezellia is the daughter of a prominent physician and southern society mother. During the 1950s and early 1960s in the south, wealthy households still had servants -- black people who were really part of the family, to some in the family, but still held out as servants not family by others. To the daughters of this family, Maizelle, the cook and general "other mother" and the gardener and general handyman, Nathaniel, were more family than their own parents. It was these two servants that reared ...more
May 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There's a lot to digest in this little book. A disintegrating marriage and an unexplained death. The prejudices and fears that would keep a young girl and boy of different races apart, from both sides. The social requirements for a Southern wife in the 1960s. Can love overcome any of this? Perhaps not, but with the right spirit, a life can be built or rebuilt or at least salvaged.
Dec 14, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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!
Feb 17, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
an insightful.honest book...enjoyed it..quick reading
Cathy Koerner
Aug 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A story of a rich girl in the south who loves a black man-and the resulting turmoil.
Marcy Guenette
Mar 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Born into Nashville society and privilege does not guarantee a happy childhood. Bezellia's mother is concerned with all things "proper", all the while losing herself in a bottle of gin. Father is a successful doctor, workaholic and philanderer. Both parents are neglectful of their children and "improper" in their own ways. The nurture and stabilizing influences of Bezellia and her sister come primarily from the household's Afro-American help. The story moves along at a good cadence, entertaining ...more
Sep 07, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not quite what I was expecting.
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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
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