The Secret Lives of Church Ladies
About this deal
But what we really miss are the laughter and embrace of our mothers and grandmothers and aunties, kin and not kin… We miss how they laughed and were easy with each other. How their friendships lasted lifetimes, outlasting wayward husbands and ungrateful children.” Eric pulls you down to the couch and kisses you again. “Oh, so we both win,” you say. “Here’s a participation trophy.” You go in for more kisses, and you think, God, let him be forever.
These are the kind of short stories that make me glad that I’ve given short stories a chance these last few years. My biggest issue with many short stories is the feeling that the story needs completing. While I didn’t love every story equally ( hard to do with a collection), just about every one felt complete . That’s not to say that I didn’t want more of Deesha Philyaw’s characters and writing. Any of these characters could fill a novel and I’m hoping for more fiction from this talented writer.We are welcomed to this collection by Caroletta, narrator of EULA. Caroletta knows exactly who she is; A woman who in love who should be in a longstanding relationship, but her supposed partner, Eula, is playing. Caroletta knows the men they have been entertaining all these years ain't shit & knows that time would no longer be wasted if Eula would just quit trying to float along that thin line of grace.
The combination of social stigmas, judgemental mothers and the Church all coalesce to make the women in these stories feel Othered or unable to comfortably occupy their own bodies. This is best detailed when a character has been made to wear a girdle her whole life by her mother, who finds it blasphemous when she arrives at church without one on after trying to learn to love herself in therapy sessions. The coached shame of ones body extends to their shame over sexuality or even feeling they are deserving of anything, much less love. The opening story, Eula, directly confronts the ways the Church’s insistence on purity is emotionally damaging. In it, two lifelong friends spend the last night of the 20th century together in a hotel and confront their sporadic sexual encounters with one another. Caroletta is hurt that Eula won’t admit her feelings and carries on in loveless relationships with men because she feels she must and because the Church sees their relations as unatural. This collection was such a pleasant surprise. More important, it was a pleasure to read. What a joyful experience. I was also fascinated with the many types of relationships- mother/daughter, men/women, women/women...Before reading this book, I was likely to perceive “church ladies” as women who use the Bible to control or punish others, or who think of themselves as better than those Jesus is still working on. Philyaw portrays “church ladies” as real people struggling with morality like the rest of us, some for better, some for worse, but all human beings. Published by West Virginia University Press, the book became an unlikely finalist for the 2020 National Book Award for Fiction. Tessa Thompson and HBO Max have optioned it for a planned film, with Philyaw writing the adaptation. I'm looking forward to it and her first novel. The title refers to the catch-all term for church-going women that Philyaw learned growing up.  These women were prim, conservatively dressed, and those "who make sure not a hair is out of place, never speak out of line, and does all the right Godly things."  In Peach Cobbler, a bright high school senior named Olivia accepts a job tutoring a classmate, the athlete son of the town pastor. Olivia knows the pastor well, having come home for many years to find him eating the prized peach cobbler her hardened mother bakes and listening to her mother entertain the married pastor in bed.
EXCLUSIVE: Three Women and Hunters writer Tori Sampson will co-create HBO Max’s Tessa Thompson-produced adaptation of The Secret Lives of Church Ladies. you think heaven is a real place? She said, Of course it is. Then I said, I think heaven is a lie. And she sat up in the bed and said, God is going to strike you down for talking like that, Jael! I just laughed and told her God is just a white man stupid niggas made up, like Santa Claus. Well, she didn’t like that one bit. She folded her arms across her chest and said, Well if there ain’t no God, then answer me this. Where do people go when they . . .” And while Philyaw does an excellent job of depicting the hypocrisy of church leadership and the misogynoir stemming from the intersection of class, sex, race, and religious belief, this story is really about the fragile relationships between mothers and their children, and how resisting parental neglect, essentially striving for self-love, can often look like rebellion.
Ms. Philyaw was raised in Florida, as I was, and several of these stories take place there. I could relate to so much. . . the food, the eclectic neighborhoods, being raised on cheesy shows like Dallas and Dynasty, too. a b Owusu, Nadia (2021-05-17). "One Book Nearly Swept This Year's Awards. Why Didn't Publishers Want It?". Slate Magazine . Retrieved 2021-10-20. The Westworld star has launched Viva Maude with a two-year deal at the WarnerMedia-owned cable network and streaming service.