Madame Ridiculous and Lady Sublime
by Elouise Bell
Paperback / 225 pages / 1-56085-147-3 / $14.95
She has always been funny. Now retired in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (What a change from Provo, Utah!), Elouise adds a hint of nostalgia. As always, she captures in a few words the essence of a situation—such as what it has been like being a woman then and now.
Mostly she finds irony in life’s little absurdities. But she also offers an honest, bittersweet reminiscence of her late, reclusive father that may draw readers into their own private reverie. She contrasts quaint, country-ish cafes of bygone days with lackluster chain restaurants. She thinks about how we used to say “Sir” or “Miss” and now opt for the politically correct “Umm.”
But whether reaching into a past century to “cheer the sublime plums of pioneer Patty Sessions,” remembering a magnificent watchdog named Maggie, musing about “sleeping beauties who wake up,” or relating her funniest night at the opera, she reminds us of a common humanity: a persistent awkwardness with ourselves and the occasional goodness that we all share.
Elouise Bell taught in the Brigham Young University English department for thirty-five years and served as Associate Dean of General and Honors Education. She is the author of Only When I Laugh, editor of Will I Ever Forget This Day? and is a former columnist for network and the Salt Lake Tribune, as well as a contributor to Harvest: Contemporary Mormon Poems. She has been honored for teaching (Karl G. Maeser Award), service (Susa Young Gates and Utah Woman of Achievement awards), and writing (Association for Mormon Letters and Society of Professional Journalists). She now teaches part-time at Coastal Carolina University.