The Bad Behavior of Belle Cantrell by Loraine Despres grabbed me with its opening lines. The book starts, "Belle Cantrell felt guilty about killing her husband, and she hated that. Feeling guilty, that is. A lady shouldn’t do something she’s going to feel guilty about later was a rule Belle kept firmly in her mind, along with its corollary: No sense in feeling guilty about all the little pleasures life has in store for you."
I fell in love with Despres’s first novel, The Scandalous Summer of Sissy LeBlanc, and the main character, Sissy (you can read my post about Sissy here). Belle is Sissy’s grandmother, so I couldn’t wait to read about her.
The book introduces us to Belle in the 1920s. She is a young widow and is pushing the limits of what society deems socially acceptable for her. It starts when she decides to cut her hair and keeps getting better and better.
Here are some questions I found online to get some ‘virtual book club’ discussion going:
he Bad Behavior of Belle Cantrell celebrates the tie between women of different generations. Discuss the relationship between Belle and Miss Effie. How did it change? What was Belle’s relationship with her own mother? How did it change? Do you think their relationship affected Belle’s relationship with her own daughter?
Belle makes up her own rules for her "Girl’s Guide to Men and Other Perils of Modern Life." If you had to pick one, which rule did you find the funniest? Appropriate for our time? Would you like to make up your own rule? Would you like to share it?
Do you think Belle was foolish or wise to risk so much for love?
My question for readers is, did you read Sissy first? Do you think that created expectations for how Belle would act? Do you want to re-read Sissy now that you know more about Belle?
Do you have any discussion topics? Post them in the comments!
If you’d like to learn more about the author, you can visit her Web site at www.lorainedespres.com. Also, I was lucky enough to interview Despres for an author Q&A on this blog last month. We had a wonderful conversation and Despres spent so much time with me that I had to break the Q&A into two posts. Read the first Q&A here and the second here.