Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

Mean Girls Go South

Mean girls.  They make our lives miserable if we end up on the wrong end of their like-you-meter.

I’m not much for mean girl novels or movies because I watch to reach out and smack the snottiness right out of them.  The other night I wanted to smack Fanny Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility–that goes ditto for Edward’s mother.  Remember Bingley’s two sisters and Lady Catherine Pride and Prejudice? They needed a good smacking as well. Jane Austen definitely knew how to get her mean girl quota into her plots.

JA, we all know, is celebrating her 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice, but she’s not who I’m writing about. I’m letting Vera handle that, if you are interested.

This post is about a grab-off-the-shelf-new-to-me read:

The Ladies Auxiliary (Ballantine Reader's Circle)


When free-spirited Batsheva moves into the close-knit Orthodox community of Memphis, Tennessee, the already precarious relationship between the Ladies Auxiliary and their teenage daughters is shaken to the core. In this extraordinary novel, Tova Mirvis takes us into the fascinating and insular world of the Memphis Orthodox Jews, one ripe with tradition and contradiction. Warm and wise, enchanting and funny, The Ladies Auxiliary brilliantly illuminates the timeless struggle between mothers and daughters, family and self, religious freedom and personal revelation, honoring the past and facing the future. An unforgettable story of uncommon atmosphere, profound insight, and winning humor, The Ladies Auxiliary is a triumphant work of fiction.

Okay, it’s all that.  What I found fascinating was the use of the omniscient narrator voice which came out in plural, like a group of women (a Southern Greek chorus?)was constantly in on the action. It seemed almost voyeuristic, but not really, because after all these are nice Orthodox ladies of the South, y’all. And Bless Their Hearts, they wouldn’t trash anybody.  Just wouldn’t be ladylike.  If you know what I mean.

Before I knew what had happened I found myself much involved in a mean girl novel.  I couldn’t quit it because I was rooting for Batsheva.  I needed to know how she would win all those Memphis ladies over again.  Also, in the back of my mind I realized the reason I liked The Ladies Auxiliary so much is because it reminded me of Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli.


I have to admit I liked Stargirl much better simply because the ending had a stronger, more satisfying ending. Stargirl absolutely triumphed over the mean girl in her life and won everyone over once again.  Now that’s a happy ending.

Mean girl literature–who is the mean girl who makes your teeth grit when she appears in the plot?

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3 thoughts on “Mean Girls Go South

  1. Such a great question! Pardon moi, while I make my way to the shelves to peruse….

    Loaghaire from Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander for sure. Scarlett O’Hara was kind of a mean girl, but I rooted for her anyway.

    Fanny Dashwood deserves to get smacked. 🙂

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