From Goodreads: Good humor, tender moments, and life lessons abound in this heartwarming portrait of small-town Southern life that is anything but simple and quiet. Five churchgoing women from Hope Springs, North Carolina, animate this humorous, poignant tale of coming to terms with one's weaknesses, honoring the fragility of life, loving passionately, laughing through tears, and thinking with the heart.
The cast of colorful characters includes: freshman pastor Charlotte Stewart, who experiences a crisis of faith; no-nonsense Margaret Peele, a widow and town confidante; sharp-tongued Louise Fisher, who has loved another woman, Roxie, for over forty years and finally gets to show it by caring for her in the last stages of Alzheimer's; Jessie Jenkins, the only African American in an all-white church; and busybody Beatrice Newgarden, who turns out to be the most solid friend to them all.
This book came first in the series about the church ladies from Hope Springs. Had I read it first rather than skipping ahead to the fourth book, Christmas Cake, I may have enjoyed Christmas Cake more. I enjoyed them both but they didn't give me any great cause for reflection or pearls of wisdom to stay with me; they were simply sweet books about the relationships between mature women friends in a small town community. Very much like the Mitford series which I also enjoyed in that way that a non-taxing read can just give you pleasure for a few hours and nothing more. This book did have a little something more - the ladies were composing a cookbook and there were recipes at the start of every chapter. The recipes sounded delicious, for the most part, I know it would probably be good or it wouldn't be included but I can't work up any enthusiasm for trying prune cake. Fried grits, on the other hand, are quite intriguing!