Sunday, March 22, 2009

Review: Mermaids in the Basement

By  Michael Lee West

Description: (from author website):

“With Mermaids in the Basement, Michael Lee West explores the complex bonds between a father and daughter. Twenty pounds overweight-and sporting a bad haircut-Renata DeChavannes' luck has run out. Her screenwriting career is on the skids, she's reeling from her mother's sudden death, and her producer-boyfriend is on the cover of tabloid magazines (accompanied by a big-breasted starlet). For decades, Renata has been estranged from her father, but she retreats to her beloved paternal grandmother's home in Point Clear, Alabama, where an old steamer trunk holds clues to her troubled childhood-and to her parents' failed marriage. She hopes to reconcile with her womanizing, heart-surgeon father, until his latest fiancée turns up bloodied and comatose at her engagement party-and pearls from Renata's broken necklace are rolling around the crime scene. While the police snoop and her father dodges her phone calls, Renata continues to excavate the old trunk; and she discovers that everything she thought she knew about her parents-and herself-is a lie. And all of it uncannily resembles a tabloid story.”

First sentence: “If I had not read the cover story in the March 2, 2000, National Enquirer, it's doubtful that I would have gone to Alabama and ruined my daddy's engagement party, much less sent the bride-to-be into a coma.”

My Thoughts:  This was the first book by Michael Lee West that I have read. I really enjoyed it.  Now I am going to have to read her other books.

The book is full of Southern charm, humor, deliciously described food, and whacky characters. I enjoyed following Renata’s journey to learn the truth about her parents. The parents she thought she “knew” growing up changed with each piece of the puzzle she pulled from her mother’s trunk that was brought up from her grandmother’s basement.

The detailed descriptions of the food and surroundings make you feel like you are actually there with the characters. I found myself hungry while reading the book… like Honora’s avocado and bacon sandwich….which I am going to have to try soon.


  • Browse inside Mermaids in the Basement HERE
  • YouTube Book Trailer:

Book Info:

  • Title: Mermaids in the Basement
  • Author: Michael Lee West
  • ISBN-10:  0060985070
  • ISBN-13:  978-0060985073
  • Paperback:  320 pages
  • Publisher: Avon A; Reprint edition (January 6, 2009)



  1. I finished this book a few weeks ago and just loved it. One thing I love is the way that she writes locale - Mobile is not just the location for this book, but a living, breathing character. I also liked the way that the family secrets were uncovered layer by layer, through all of the character's voices. I immediately went out and bought 2 more of Michael's books, but have not had a chance to read them yet. I'll let you know what I think! Love this new blog of yours Susan, this should be alot of fun and very interesting. Kathy

  2. This is one of the books in my stack of "to read" books. You've made me want to get right to it. Thanks. laurie

  3. OMG, you have GOT to read all the rest of the books. They're WONDERFUL. I cannot wait till her next one comes out next year! Yes, we have to wait till 2010 dammit!

    Justine :o )

  4. My goodness! I just discovered you have a blog about books -- brilliant! I will be back, and back, and back. We have so many books we should be able to claim them as dependents on our taxes.

    PS... made our camelback sofa; it's the Elvira Swan design, with very exaggerated lines. They do all custom work, and do C.O.M. so you can get what you want. The fabric on ours, a cotton matelasse, came from Calico Corners. Angel House is in Massachusetts, near Sturbridge Village, but they ship. I think their prices are excellent, too.

  5. You have a blog award waiting for you at

  6. You guys just made my day. :-) I'm all inspired to write.


Thank you for stopping by my blog and taking the time to comment! I enjoy reading all your thoughts and will try to answer any questions you might have for me. Have a wonderful day....hope to "see"you again soon!