Mermaids in the Basement

By Michael Lee West
(Harper, Hardcover, 9780060184056, 304pp.)

Publication Date: January 2008

Other Editions of This Title: Paperback, Hardcover

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The beloved bestselling author of Crazy Ladies returns with a funny and poignant tale that explores the complex bonds between a daughter and her father.

Reeling from the loss of her mother, plagued with a bad case of writer's block (and don't even talk about that extra twenty pounds), Renata DeChavannes feels as though everything is just plain wrong. And that was before the tabloids caught her sweetheart, filmmaker Ferg Lauderdale, sharing an intimate squeeze with Hollywood's hottest young tamale.

But the granddaughter of the formidable Honora DeChavannes possesses more hell than belle in her backbone--and she's about to reclaim it. Heading south to Honora's home on the Gulf Coast, Renata is determined to stop feeling like a wilted gardenia and emerge as the unstoppable kudzu her beloved grandmother proudly proclaimed she would be: "I'll just tell you, Sherman may have burned the South, but kudzu will engulf it." But for that to happen Renata's got to face some not-so-genteel ghosts from her past, discover the truth about the mother she desperately misses, and make peace with the first man who abandoned her and broke her heart--her handsome and distant father.

Conversation Starters from


  1. Mermaids in the Basement is story about fathers and daughters. Renata DeChavannes returns to her family's home in Alabama to discover the truth about her parents' failed marriage and to reconnect with her estranged father, Louie. How did Renata and Louie drift apart? Do they reach an understanding? How does divorce impact their relationship? Why was Renata shielded from the truth? Discuss the father/daughter relationship and how it differs from mothers and daughters.

Praise For Mermaids in the Basement

Southern belles hell-bent on belated truth-telling in West's latest wacky outing... . the belles's barbed commentary never fails to entertain
-Kirkus Reviews

"An engaging tale that skips from glitzy romantic Hollywood to Deep South without missing a beat."

"Deliciously zany novel of Southern discomfort.
-Redbook Magazine

West has a knack for realistic and engaging characters. This charming tale will keep readers wanting to know more about the inhabitants of Point Clear.
-Library Journal (starred review)

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