The Supremes At Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat by Edward Kelsey Moore is a delightful pick for this week’s Five Star Friday recommendation because of its joy as well as pain.
Publisher’s Summary: Meet Odette, Clarice, and Barbara Jean…Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat is home away from home for this inseparable Plainview, Indiana, trio. Dubbed “the Supremes” by high school pals in the tumultuous 1960s, they weather life’s storms together for the next four decades. Now, during their most challenging year yet, dutiful, proud, and talented Clarice must struggle to keep up appearances as she deals with her husband’s humiliating infidelities. Beautiful, fragile Barbara Jean is rocked by the tragic reverberations of a youthful love affair. And fearless Odette engages in the most terrifying battle of her life while contending with the idea that she has inherited more than her broad frame from her notorious pot-smoking mother, Dora. Through marriage, children, happiness, and the blues, these strong, funny women gather each Sunday at the same table at Earl’s diner for delicious food, juicy gossip, and occasional tears.
There are actually time periods in The Supremes At Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat the sixties, seventies, and present day so it’s familiar to those of us of a certain age. And though there are devastating changes in the characters’ lives, the author handles these developments with a natural ease telling the story from the perspective of each of the three women.
As Zetta Brown said in her review for the New York Journal of Books, “Don’t let the fact that The Supremes At Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat is written by a man discourage you from giving this novel a try. Nothing is more distasteful than a man trying to write from a woman’s point of view and failing miserably. Fortunately, Edward Kelsey Moore knows how to write a terrific, complex, believable, and always intriguing story. He has portrayed his female characters in such a way that even when they are being obnoxious you must read on if only to find out what happens to them next.”
Perhaps Moore writes so honestly about women is because as a child, he would eavesdrop on his female relatives during family gatherings. As he described in his interview with Kevin Nance for the Chicago Tribune, “I loved their stories and, even better, the way they told them. It was always the best part of the holiday.”
Another reason why Moore is able to write such a lovely story is because as a professional musician he is attune to the rhythms and cadences of convivial discussion and building tension toward the climactic resolution. Whatever the source of the author’s ability, I have no doubt you will enjoy The Supremes At Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat.
Happy Reading, Susan C.
Also By Moore:
The Supremes Sing the Happy Heartache Blues – Mr. El Walker, the great guitar bluesman, comes home to give a command performance in Plainview, Indiana, a place he’d sworn he’d never set foot in again. But El is not the only Plainview native with a hurdle to overcome. A wildly philandering husband struggles to prove his faithfulness to the wife he’s always loved. A young transwoman lights out for show biz and Chicago to escape her father’s wrath and live an authentic life. And among those in this tightly knit community who show up every Sunday after church for lunch at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat, are the lifelong friends, known locally as “The Supremes”–Clarice, facing down her longing for, chance at, and fear of a great career; Barbara Jean, grappling with the loss of a mother, and Odette, reaching toward her husband through an anger of his that she does not understand. This lively cast of characters, each of whom have surmounted serious trouble and come into love, need not learn how to survive but how, fully, to live.