This book would be perfect for twelve-year-old girls, but it's just too precious for grown-up readers. Had it been published and promoted as a book for youngsters, I would have rated it higher and reviewed it more gently. But it was marketed as an adult book, so I'll rate and review it as such. The writing, plot, and characters aren't all that bad for light fiction. I was able to finish it without hating it, which is increasingly rare for me with fluff novels. THE PROBLEM: There were a lot of opportunities for real depth here. The story could have explored serious issues such as mental illness, a child's loss of her mother, and racial tensions in the South of the 1960s. Hoffman kills every chance for depth and dramatic tension by tidily dispatching every crisis with perfectly worded homilies delivered at just the right moment by just the right character. These little sermons are happily accepted by the other characters, who never raise the issue again. They all float along in saccharine harmony until the next crisis, which will be just as neatly dissolved with another special conversation.Sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows get tediously predictable by about halfway through the book. There are some delightful characters, but they aren't believable when they're so easily swayed and soothed. If you're looking for something sweet and fun and you're less critical of light fiction than I, you will probably find this a wonderful little escape. It has a lot of Southern charm and colorful characters, and there are some quite humorous escapades. I loved the photo journey of Miz Hobbs's remarkable traveling brassiere! Aunt Tootie, Oletta, and Miz Goodpepper are lovable but not very convincing.