Belle Cantrell and Sissy LeBlanc

It was the book cover.  I kept seeing it in the bookstore, and finally had to buy The Scandalous Summer of Sissy LeBlancand start reading.  I was pleased that from the start, her story was as captivating as the cover.

Scandalous Summer of Sissy LeBlanc cover

Then I read The Bad Behavior of Belle Cantrell.  Just as captivating.

Bad Behavior of Belle Cantrell cover

Then I passed the books on to my mom, who also enjoyed them.  Then she passed them on.  This was about 12 years ago, and I’ve just requested them from our library so I can read them again.

Sissy LeBlanc would have been about 5 years older than my mom.  The author’s summary sets the stage:

“It’s a steamy June afternoon in Louisiana, circa 1956, and Sissy LeBlanc is sitting on her front porch….  She’s been living in stifling old Gentry since the day she was born and trapped in a sham of a marriage to PeeWee LeBlanc since she was only seventeen. In short, she’s fed up, restless, and ready for an adventure. Sissy just never imagined temptation would come into her life that breathless summer day as she sat smoking on her porch swing. For although she may have been fixated on the taut muscles of the lineman shimmying down the telephone pole across the street, she hadn’t allowed herself to imagine that he’d be none other than her high school sweetheart, Parker Davidson, who left town fourteen years before without so much as a wave good-bye. But suddenly, here he is, leaning in for a kiss that will stir up more excitement than Sissy could ever have imagined…”  (From Goodreads)

In June 1956, when Sissy’s story opened, Elvis Presley’s first studio album would have been released just three months earlier.


Then there was Sissy’s grandmother, Belle Cantrell, who would have been about the age of my mom’s grandmother (my great-grandma).

“Welcome to the world of beautiful, irrepressible Belle Cantrell, years before she becomes grandmother to Sissy LeBlanc….. It is 1920, prohibition is in full swing, women are clamoring for the vote — and in the little town of Gentry, Louisiana, narrow-minded intolerance is on the rise. Sent to jail for swimming in an indecent bathing costume with a group of suffragists, Belle Cantrell knows her behavior broke the rules. But sometimes — most of the time — she has to twist the rules a little, because they all say the same thing: “Don’t.”

A sexy, sassy story of murder, adultery, romance, bigotry, and regular church attendance, with laugh-out-loud humor and a cast of zany, endearing characters you won’t forget, The Bad Behavior of Belle Cantrell is a big comic love story . . . and much more.”  (From Goodreads.)

What I most specifically remember about both books was that the social issues of the day weren’t glossed over.  They were a real, and sometimes sobering part of the story.  I’ve forgotten most of both stories, which is why I want the experience of reading them again.


The author, Loraine Despres, has only published these two fiction novels.  I wish she would write some more fiction novels in the vein of Sissy and Belle.  But hey, she’s famous and quite accomplished, even if you haven’t heard of her.  According to her bio, she penned the ‘Who Shot J.R.?‘ episode of DALLAS!  I think Sissy and Belle would make good TV movie characters as well.

5 thoughts on “Belle Cantrell and Sissy LeBlanc

  1. Sounds interesting. I like that period of the twenties. The twenties remind of the sixties with the flappers and the changes that were happening…until the depression.

    I remember Who Shot JR…it was so talked about between seasons.

    I’ve never heard Elvis do Rip it Up before. I’ve only heard Little Richard. How I missed that?

    Like

    1. That is a tangible parallel between the 20s and 60s. I love both decades. I don’t think I started watching Dallas until after the ‘Who Shot JR’ cliffhanger. Everybody talked about the show, and I finally decided to sit down and watch it, to see what the buzz was about. I was hooked right away. Then when it was syndicated, I finally got to see the first seasons.

      I wasn’t familiar with that Elvis recording either. I went looking for what was being played in the summer of 1956, and there were several neat songs, but Elvis’ first studio album seemed perfect.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The free love, rebellion, and social changes…

        I remember it came on Friday nights after The Hulk and Dukes of Hazzard. At first I didn’t like it at first but the character of Jr was just the perfect bad guy.

        1956 is Elvis at his peak.

        Liked by 1 person

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