I've found a new winner. I took a chance and bought this book at the library used book sale for $1 (I know, I know, big spender). Now that I've read this Miss Julia book by Ann B. Ross, I'm headed back to the library to purchase the other one that was available.
The plot is outlandish but not to the point of unreality or fantasy. The characters are quirky and deftly drawn. I cared about them, and couldn't put the book down because I wanted to know how they fared through their difficulties. The real charm of the book lies in Miss Julia's character, the sweet but highly opinionated narrator of the book. Ms. Ross is to be commended on skillfully writing a book entirely in first-person narration which reveals more to the reader than to the narrator.
Miss Julia took in her dead husband's mistress and her child (that story apparently being told in the first Miss Julia book, which I haven't read yet). She has come to love both of them, but now their lives and happiness are endangered by the machinations of a crooked fund-raiser and a greedy television preacher. Miss Julia comes to the rescue. While some ugly topics are touched upon (such as adultery), they are not touched upon in such a way as to glorify sin or even to make a spectacle of it.
Having recently read a book (review forthcoming) in which the main characters have no faults except for being a bit gullible, it was refreshing and a pleasure to read a book in which faults abound and seem real.
I would recommend this book to those who enjoy reading contemporary fiction, and especially to those who enjoy written portraits of southern ladies.