Southern Lady Code (Hardcover)


By Helen Ellis

Doubleday, 9780385543897, 224pp.

Publication Date: April 16, 2019

List Price: 22.00*
* Individual store prices may vary.


"I loved it." —Ann Patchett 

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.

About the Author

HELEN ELLIS is the author of American Housewife and Eating the Cheshire Cat. Raised in Alabama, she lives with her husband in New York City. You can find her on Twitter @WhatIDoAllDay and Instagram @American Housewife.

Praise For Southern Lady Code: Essays

"Thank you Helen Ellis for writing down the Southern Lady Code so that others may learn. As a Southern Lady myself, I can not only confirm the veracity of the facts, I can tell you the book made me laugh like a hyena. A true Southern Lady loves anything that is both funny and profound, which this book is, so I loved it."
—Ann Patchett 

"A vibrant storyteller with a penchant for the perverse, Ellis pivots from short stories (American Housewife) to nonfiction in this ribald collection of essays on manners, morals, and marriage, all colored by her off-kilter Alabama upbringing. From Marie Kondo’s tidying-up magic to Bartles & Jaymes wine coolers and being a teenager in the 1980s, Ellis’s sharp eye for pop-culture preoccupations inspires smart-mouthed provocations... Ellis is a strong, vivid writer—and this book is gut-busting funny."
Publishers Weekly 

"That Helen Ellis is at it again. Her brilliant essays are hotter than a five alarm Memphis BBQ, dirtier than a Jackson, Mississippi martini, sweeter than Mamaw's Alabama chess pie, and more poignant than the prom corsage you pressed in your family Bible. Helen's observations are witty, wise, elegant and down home, sometimes all at once. Savor like pimento cheese on crackers. Lucky us, her essays don't have a shelf life."
—Adriana Trigiani, bestselling author of Kiss Carlo

"Helen Ellis is hilarious, brilliant, and utterly mad. Southern Lady Code will make you a better woman or a better man—once you have cleaned up the the coffee you spit through your nose from laughing so hard.  I loved this book: every essay and every word."
Chris Bohjalian, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Flight Attendant 

"Helen Ellis's brilliant voice shines in this witty, weird, and utterly wonderful essay collection—a glitter bomb of delights. From bringing foam fingers into the bedroom to trying pot for the first time in your forties, there's something for everyone in Southern Lady Code. Reading this feels like settling into a comfy couch and having a martini (or three) with your warmest, wisest, most hilarious friend."
—Cristina Alger, bestselling author of The Banker’s Wife