Bibliophiliac is the space where one passionate, voracious reader reflects on books and the reading life. You will find reviews, analysis, links, and reflections on poetry and prose both in and out of the mainstream.

A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. Franz Kafka

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Review: The Bequest of Big Daddy

The Bequest of Big Daddy
Jo-Ann Costa
247 pages
a copy of this book was provided by the publisher through TLC Book Tours

Jo-Ann Costa has a larger-than-life character in Big Daddy, also known as Horatio ("Ratio") Gage Jansen. Ratio's story, and the story of his Southern family, stretches from Antebellum Alabama to 1980's era Alabama and Georgia. Ratio Janson is a big character who needs a big canvas, and Costa gives him that. 

The novel opens with Ratio's great grand-daughter, Jo-Dee, visiting her great-grandfather, Big Daddy, just before his death. Big Daddy has an epic temper and an epic libido; he inspires fear and admiration, not necessarily in equal parts. When Big Daddy passes away, Jo-Dee is too young to understand why her great grandfather evokes such strong emotions from his family, but as an adult, she is compelled to uncover Big Daddy's stories and secrets.

Big Daddy's story begins with the story of his mother, Mina Satterley, an icy beauty with astonishing blue eyes. Mina and her son, Ratio, are forced to flee their home as the Civil War battles near their plantation in Georgia, and a picaresque adventure begins. Ratio finds himself in trouble again and again, and often it is his libido or his predilection for wandering or both that causes the trouble. In addition to wanderlust and plain old lust, Ratio is possessed of a violent temper and questionable morals. The Bequest of Big Daddy follows Ratio through forced labor, imprisonment, a disturbing incident with a circus performer and much more.

Jo-Ann Costa is a storyteller par-excellence. She has the Southern gift for telling a yarn, and The Bequest of Big Daddy is one long rolicking yarn. The strengths of Costa's novel are her storyteller's gift, and her completely enchanting characters.

There is a big secret at the heart of this book, and Jo-Dee's pursuit of Big Daddy's secret is what holds this tale together. For storytelling technique, this book is a fantastic, energetic romp. Costa's technical skill as a writer does not quite match her gift as a storyteller, but this reader became so attached to the characters, and so invested in discovering Big Daddy's secret, that I was willing to overlook the sometimes choppy quality of the writing. The Bequest of Big Daddy is sure to please lovers of Southern fiction, and anyone who loves a story filled with drama, secrets, and lies. If your idea of fun would be to attend a huge family reunion and soak up all the stories about some epic family character, then you will love The Bequest of Big Daddy.

1 comment:

Heather J @ TLC Book Tours said...

Hmm, I'm not sure a huge family reunion would be my kind of fun, but this book certainly sounds good!

Thanks for being on the tour. I'm featuring your review on TLC's Facebook page today.