Charms for the Easy Life

Charms for the Easy Life A family without men the Birches live gloriously offbeat lives in the lush green backwoods of North Carolina Radiant headstrong Sophia and her shy brilliant daughter Margaret possess powerful ch

  • Title: Charms for the Easy Life
  • Author: Kaye Gibbons
  • ISBN: 9780060760250
  • Page: 370
  • Format: Paperback
  • A family without men, the Birches live gloriously offbeat lives in the lush, green backwoods of North Carolina Radiant, headstrong Sophia and her shy, brilliant daughter, Margaret, possess powerful charms to ward off loneliness, despair, and the human misery that often beats a path to their door And they are protected by the eccentric wisdom and muscular love of the remaA family without men, the Birches live gloriously offbeat lives in the lush, green backwoods of North Carolina Radiant, headstrong Sophia and her shy, brilliant daughter, Margaret, possess powerful charms to ward off loneliness, despair, and the human misery that often beats a path to their door And they are protected by the eccentric wisdom and muscular love of the remarkable matriarch Charlie Kate, a solid, uncompromising, self taught healer who treats everything from boils to broken bones to broken hearts.Sophia, Margaret, and Charlie Kate find strength in a time when women almost always depended on men, and their bond deepens as each one experiences love and loss during World War II Charms for the Easy Life is a passionate, luminous, and exhilarating story about embracing what life has to offer even if it means finding it in unconventional ways.This P.S edition features an extra 16 pages of insights into the book, including author interviews, recommended reading, and .

    One thought on “Charms for the Easy Life”

    1. Charms is a family saga. The narrator, Margaret Birch, tells of her mother, Sophia, her grandmother, Charlie Kate, her no-good father, her failed grandfather and a broad cast of characters that inhabit the southern towns of her upbringing. It oozes warmth. I was reminded of The Secret Life of Bees. They are of a cloth. The women of this tale, like the men in Lake Wobegon are all strong. The matriarch, Charlie Kate, becomes a local legend with her broad knowledge of healing and her tenacity at ge [...]

    2. It's amazingly easy to read and grabs you right away. In fact, it feels so effortless (but it's the kind of writing that you know was slaved over, honed and perfected), that I questioned how I could have gotten quite so much from it. Two lovely ideas from this book:The grandmother, when she's young, gets this lucky charm, that's supposed to bring her an easy life. Her husband leaves her, tries to con her, she works as a doctor in the early 1900's when infection and poverty are rampant--but she i [...]

    3. After My Antonia and Here Be Dragons I wanted a light readme chick-lit if you will. This book sounded intriguing. Set in North Carolina during WWII it tells the story of three generations of unconventional Southern women: Charlie Kate, Sophia her daughter, and Margaret her granddaughtere narrator. Charlie Kate is a backwoods mid-wife/healer and the adventures/medical conditions that she encounters are unique to say the least. This is a book of strong women who depend on one another rather than m [...]

    4. Charms for the Easy Life is a mesmerizing fictional biography/autobiography of three generations of women living unconventional lives in North Carolina against the backdrop of the World Wars. The book revolves around the life of the narrator's grandmother, a self-taught healer who appears to lead a bit of a charmed life. Her life is not "charmed" in any sort of mystical sense, it's more like she is so self-possessed that a comparatively uncertain world bends itself to her will.I enjoyed the glim [...]

    5. Don't ask me what it is about Kaye Gibbons. She just has one of those voices that speaks to me from somewhere out of my ancestral southern past, I guess. Some smooth, smokey drawl that captures my attention, and holds it, drawing it into the hearts of her characters, so that her stories for me are far, far more than the sum of their parts. They are all women's stories, and stories of adversity, with a southern flavor that is so familiar to me, it truly seems to call out from my own distant past. [...]

    6. "I have read two books a week for thirty years. I am satisfied that I know everything." So says Charlie Kate Birch, and she's not shy about sharing her knowledge, whether you want to hear it or not. Charlie Kate is an early-1900s North Carolina midwife, herbalist, and self-styled doctor (with no official credentials). She's feisty, outspoken, and somewhat manipulative, but also very civic-minded and generous. You can't help liking her, even if she is a little too full of herself. Her daughter So [...]

    7. This book swept me into its fabric from the first page, mainly because the main character, Charlie Kate, is so unconventional and the stories of her turn-of-the-century life in the South are so shockingly humorous, tragic and honest.We all hope to know someone (or be someone) a little like Charlie Kate: always knowing exactly what to do in any situation, dauntlessly moving forward and dictating the way our world will be. Like a magnet, her character attracts people to her, and whether she is tru [...]

    8. I went 5 minutes beyond my self-imposed minimum 20 minutes (for audiobooks) before DNFing. That was 25 minutes of exposition as the main character explains her family's backstory, and we had only gotten as far as her mother's childhood. Yawn.Audiobook version, borrowed from my local public library via Overdrive. Kate Fleming's performance was fine. I think she did her best with the material she had to work with.

    9. It belongs to a genre that I'm not generally fond of, southern small-town stories of generational ties with eccentric characters; as the front cover blurb has it, "as invigorating as sarsaparilla and as soothing as lemon-balm tea". They always seem to feature women who are not only independent and self-achievers, but staunchly anti-racist throughout the whole 20th century. Still, Charms for the Easy Life is incontestably well-written, and it pretty much steers clear of the traps of sentimentalit [...]

    10. I wasn't sure what to expect from this book, but I was pleasantly surprised. I really liked Margaret, the story she told, and the way it was written, and her grandmother was just fantastic.

    11. I enjoyed every word and I love picking up historical tidbits. One was that Duke University outlawed jitterbugging during the early forties, not for moral reasons, but because too many students were ending up in the infirmary with dislocated shoulders.

    12. I should write a review on this, but I am too lazy. I loved it though. So much so that I turned back to page 1 and started over right after finishing. This was better than Ellen Foster and that was pretty good.

    13. Very fitting that I read this book over the International Women's Day weekend. Although narrated by Margaret, the star and central character is her grandmother Charlie Kate. What a woman! Never back down; never settle for just any man; never give in to pressure; and always believe your decisions are right were her guiding principles, and the ones she tried to instill in her daughter and granddaughter. I couldn't stop reading about this turn of the century self-taught healer, midwife, surgeon; an [...]

    14. What makes this book such a gem, other than Gibbons' masterful pen, is that the characters are exquisitely present in their lives. You do not see this in the life of a woman in this century. Charlie Kate, Sophia and Margaret - each is living the life they want to live. - not terribly complicated lives, but luxuriously meaningful and purposeful lives. I did not want the story to end. (I want to hear from grandmother every day!) I'm going to read it again just so I can jot down some of grandmother [...]

    15. This book is just captivating. It has been on my to-read list a very long time and I now I look forward to reading more by Kaye Gibbons. This story surrounds the lives of a grandmother, her daughter, and her granddaughter. Each was fascinating in their day-to-day lives and the dynamics of their family was humorous and heartwarming.I loved the quote on the back from Time Magazine: "Graceful and spirited.As invigorating as sarsaparilla and as soothing as lemon-balm tea."

    16. This book was on a reading list that I'm trying to get through, so that is how this came in to my radar. It was a pleasant little read. I haven't read this author before, and found myself enjoying the character development, especially Grandma. I think the author nailed some of the sticky family dynamics. Some of this was a little cliche, but it was a sweet story.

    17. There's not one thing Kaye Gibbons has written that I didn't love. I read this book years ago, yet re-reading seemed just as fresh and new as before. You can't help but love all three of the women in this story - particularly the grandmother who was plain spoken, sharp witted, and a total riot. She's the relative every family has, the one person who minces no words, and commands respect even when she insults you up one side and down the other.

    18. Amazing women proving that strength can look like many different things. Charlie Kate is the kind of grandmother I wish I grew up with - intelligent, street smart, irreverent, unafraid and unabashedly herself.

    19. This book is my new favorite read of the year. I'm happy to have finally read something by Ms. Gibbons and am excited to get my hands on more.

    20. Enjoyable story of three generations of strong southern women, who made a difference in so many others lives with their healing and wisdom. Margaret's story made me think of a butterfly slowly emerging from its cocoon!

    21. I remembered loving this book the first time I read it several years ago but had forgotten just how wonderful and fun it was until I listened to it again. The reader for the audiobook really brought the characters to life for me. I hope I don’t have reason to ‘purge’ at the end of my life.

    22. This book was a surprise--a very pleasant one. It is a familiar format of late 20th century literature: the steel magnolia Southern women who surmount countless obstacles not the least of which are a string of weak, unreliable, and troublesome men by leaning on one another. But this book is actually much more than that. It's a coming of age story but also the story of a remarkable woman who is determined destroy, whenever possible, every kind of cultural nonsense, stupidity, and prejudice. A wom [...]

    23. I really enjoyed this novel. It takes place mostly in the 1940's around the time of WW2 and is told from the perspective of Margaret the daughter/granddaughter of this female three generation household. The Grandmother is "Charly Kate", a name she picked for herself and she is as smart, sassy, sharp and self-reliant to boot. She runs a alternative medicine practice out of her home where her granddaughter assists her in her labors of caring for the pregnant, the ill, and basically making up for t [...]

    24. Here are the things that I liked about the book:1) The setting - N. Carolina 1900-19462) The strong female characters - Charlie Kate, her daughter, Sophia, and grandaughter, Margaret3) romance - this wasn't the main focus of the book, the men definitely take a backseat in this novel, but there is a little romance and (thank goodness) it's not sappy :)4) the author's writing style - I wasn't sure if I liked it at first, but once I got into it I liked it.There are only a couple of little nit-picky [...]

    25. What seemed like a simple story of three generations in a family of southern women speaks of the connectivity between generations that families sometimes have. I like to think that for those of us who have been fortunate enough to have had strong role models and who have benefitted from their wisdom and folly, Kaye Gibbons' story strikes a chord within us. Her fine illustration of how these women could argue, call one another names, and be utterly different yet still maintain love and respect fo [...]

    26. Okay, I know since embarking out on my project of Read All Unread Books in my House, I've started every review this way, but it's really ridiculous that it took me this long to read this book? Why? Because my dear mother gave it to me for Christmas in 1998--it says so on the inside of the front cover. And I really should have read it 10 years ago when she gave it to me because it's fabulous! The characters are so vivid I feel like I could call them up.Also, the whole atmosphere of the book, even [...]

    27. Well where have I been? How did I miss such a wonderful author? I really enjoyed this book!! Everything was great - the writing, the characters, the pace (not too slow, not too fast). I think you can tell if a book is good by how you feel when it ends. Well I did NOT want this to be over! The book is about three generations (grandmother, mother and daughter), with Margaret, the daughter, narrating. Most of the story takes place between 1940-1945 (I'm pretty sure those are the dates) and it follo [...]

    28. Another recommendation. I really loved this book, it is incredibly well written, striking the perfect balance between well paced dialogue and description. I loved the little anecdotes that made up the story as a whole, the sad, poignant moments and the bizarre characteristics of the characters, all of which made them very real and gave them depth.I finished this book knowing that it meant a lot, and knowing that I'd have to read and re-read it over an over to get to see all the little truths hi [...]

    29. One of truths I center my life around is from Marjorie Hinckley speaking on female relationships, “Oh, how we need each other. Those of us who are old need you who are young. And, hopefully, you who are young need some of us who are old. It is a sociological fact that women need women. We need deep and satisfying and loyal friendships with each other.” I never tire of that theme or plots which revolve around it. My life could be considered neither "charmed" nor "easy" without a huge cast of [...]

    30. This novel is written uniquely. It's almost like a long narrative or memoir, with little dialogue. I found the story of the three Women very interesting. I admired their strength and how they had each other, despite difficult trials along the way. This book could have kept going for me, I of course wanted more of an ending or epilogue. I loved the setting of the south and the time period of the early 20th century. This will be our May 2013 book club pick. I can't wait it see the movie version an [...]

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