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Black's Book Reviews

"The Cotton Queen", Pamela Morsi

· Black's Book Reviews
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Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐FIVE STARS

☑️Fast, Easy read

☑️Engaging & Emotional

☑️Well-developed characters

☑️Conceivable storyline

☑️A satisfying ending 

Genre: Domestic Fiction


I am not, nor will I ever be, the kind of woman who wears pearls with her apron while cooking meat loaf for her husband. But when I was a kid, my mother, Babs, prepared me to be the next June Cleaver–teaching me lessons that belonged to another era. Another world, practically. My mother's world. I couldn't wait to leave home and get away from her. But now, well–let's just say life hasn't turned out quite as I'd planned. And heaven help me, I'm going home. Laney Hoffman–Cotton Queen, 1975.It's funny–all I ever wanted was to teach my daughter, Laney, how to be a lady so she could find a good husband and take her rightful place in our community. But Laney has always remained convinced that my life and my ideas are, well, pathetic. She has no idea–no idea!–what it is to lose a husband, to watch your dreams wither while keeping a smile on your face for the neighbors. Now, that is a talent. Laney is probably too smart for her own good, but being smart hasn't kept her out of trouble. Thank heavens I'm here to help pick up the pieces. Babs Hoffman–Cotton Queen First Runner-Up, 1956.

My Favorite Chapter: I think I personally resonate with the  Babs on  page 164 because of the conversation around dating between mother and daughter. Babs is trying to encourage/ half-ass force her daughter, Laney, to find someone to date so that she can "live". Babs makes a case for several "suitors" but Laney proudly stands her ground, of course not knowing the stories and experiences that built her mother, with resentment at her core. The discussion is an important one ... one that truly represents generational differences and even more so, the power of fear for coercion. The power of our struggle and the path trauma scrapes against our souls. 

"Well, all right then, but you have to date somebody." 


"What do you mean, why?" I was puzzled at her question. "You have to date so that you'll find someone to marry."

"No, I'm not going to do that," she said. 

"You're not going to marry?"

"I might," she conceded. "But not because I have to. I'm going to have my own life and do the things that I want to do. I'll only date to have fun and only marry when I get old."

"That's just silly," I told her. "How will you live? Are you planning to stay in your bedroom until you're forty? By then, all the young men in town will be taken. There will be no one in McKinney to make a match with."

This section of convo hits home for me because of multiple talks my own mother had with me. She was a housewife herself and didn't necessarily support her daughters going to college. Her mindset was that it was ok if my sister and I got degrees "only in for the case that you don't find a husband." My mother didn't understand that I wanted more in life that I created, that I did on my own. But now, understanding more about her upbringing and past, I feel sorry for her that it was fear that held her back from being the nurse she always dreamt of being. 

Overall Summary Review: I have read, and re-read, this book so many times through the years not only because of the very REAL storylines but because every time I read it, more emotional connection and "aha" moments click on for me. I know this is a domestic fiction but there are a lot of hard topics this book touches on, like the hardships of marriage, divorce, rape, and parenting outside from what you know. The respect these two women earn and deserve to share with one another is palpable... if they would just move past the titles and the stigma the roles bear,they could actually share who they are with one another. To this day, this is one of my all-time favorite reads. Highly recommend!