An Alabaman in New York: SOUTHERN LADY CODE

Southern Lady Code


Written by: Helen Ellis
Read by: Helen Ellis
3 Hours and 12 Minutes
Imprint: Random House Audio
Genre: Humor – Topic – Marriage & Family
Release Date: April 16, 2019

I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader’s copy of this book. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.

The bestselling author of American Housewife (“Dark, deadpan and truly inventive.” –-The New York Times Book Review) is back with a fiercely funny collection of essays on marriage and manners, thank-you notes and three-ways, ghosts, gunshots, gynecology, and the Calgon-scented, onion-dipped, monogrammed art of living as a Southern Lady.

Helen Ellis has a mantra: “If you don’t have something nice to say, say something not-so-nice in a nice way.” Say “weathered” instead of “she looks like a cake left out in the rain.” Say “early-developed” instead of “brace face and B cups.” And for the love of Coke Salad, always say “Sorry you saw something that offended you” instead of “Get that stick out of your butt, Miss Prissy Pants.” In these twenty-three raucous essays Ellis transforms herself into a dominatrix Donna Reed to save her marriage, inadvertently steals a $795 Burberry trench coat, witnesses a man fake his own death at a party, avoids a neck lift, and finds a black-tie gown that gives her the confidence of a drag queen. While she may have left her home in Alabama, married a New Yorker, forgotten how to drive, and abandoned the puffy headbands of her youth, Helen Ellis is clinging to her Southern accent like mayonnaise to white bread, and offering readers a hilarious, completely singular view on womanhood for both sides of the Mason-Dixon.


My Take Oblong Shaped


This is a short book and if it weren’t mostly really funny that would give me pause.  And most of it is funny – I missed the point of the Burberry coat essay, but parts still amused me.  I found as amusing on the second listen as I had at the first. Helen Ellis is apparently a professional poker player, a podcaster, a well-off Southerner turned New Yorker, and has some really interesting parents.  Her parents are as much fun in the book as she is.  They make me wonder whether humor is nature or nurture.

I  enjoy the sly humor the author employs, and her delivery as narrator is perfect; her accent enhances the comedic effect.  I asked myself if she is a writer for Saturday Night Live; if there was an SNL in the South, she would certainly belong in the cast.

There is one essay without any humor: it is about justice.  There’s some pretty graphic descriptions of an horrific crime.  It is chilling, but I found her telling of it compelling.  It was an important story.

Although it is short it’s a fun listen and will leave you laughing and thinking — as comedy should.


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