Georgia Bottoms by Mark Childress

Two things were certain about Georgia Bottoms.  She was the undisputed belle of Six Points, Alabama, and the only thing she loved more than her appearance was her divine reputation. 

Georgia’s “chicken-fried” charm and “sweet-tea” hospitality also made her the natural choice as Six Points’ unofficial town hostess and goodwill ambassador, until one Sunday in church when the lid was blown off of her entire “gravy and grits” facade.

The seventh novel by Alabama native Mark Childress, Georgia Bottoms, focuses on a 30-something Southern belle who is trying to pretend, for herself and an entire town, that the old-fashioned ways of the aristocratic South still exist in god-fearing, gossip-spreading Six Points, Alabama. 

Just published in February of this year, Georgia Bottoms combines a group of stereotypical southern characters into a tale of crazy situations, sexual misconduct and deceit at its finest.  Georgia appears to be a well-off single woman from a family of old money. She faithfully occupies her pew at the Baptist church every Sunday, dotingly cares for her elderly mother with Alzheimer’s, and selflessly spends hours creating beautiful quilts which she sells at a local store for a bargain price. 

Everything seems perfect in Georgia’s world until two things happen.  First, 9/11 occurs, stripping away a layer of innocence from the town.  Then the town preacher decides to spend Sunday sermon confessing his sins, including his affair with Georgia.  She stops him just in time and has him successfully transferred out of town, but as time moves forward she finds it harder and harder to conceal the fact that she is also sleeping with five other high-ranking men in town for money because, in reality, she is broke. 

Matters get more complicated when one of Georgia’s “clients” has a bad reaction to Viagra, and she has to rush him to the hospital.  By then her secret biracial son, whom she gave up at birth, decides to find her and shows up on her doorstep.  And to top it off, Georgia’s dim-witted brother, who was in jail for domestic terrorism, escapes and comes to her house to hide.

As Georgia’s world ridiculously falls apart, Childress injects the novel with humor revolving around the stock Southern characters and their unfortunate flaws.  Be warned, however, that at times the humor involving racism and sexual morality could be offensive to some readers. 

Georgia Bottoms also has problems with a fuzzy setting timeline.  Until 9/11 occurs in the novel, it is a little murky whether the story is taking place in 1965 or in the present.  This leaves the reader feeling a little confused because as all the town secrets unfold, you’re not sure whether you are dealing with moral issues from fifty years ago or today. 

There is also a four-year gap in the middle of the book.  This gap is written into the text in such a nonchalant manner that if you are not paying close attention, you’ll miss this important detail and get a little lost. 

By the close of the novel, a new preacher comes to town and finishes turning Georgia’s life upside down.  Her affairs come to light.  Everyone finds out about her secret son, and it is discovered that Georgia’s beautiful quilts were not made by her at all, but by a group of poor black women in a small town in the next state.  Never fear for Georgia, however, because in the end, she prevails and manages to take most of the town down with her in that “charming southern” way that only Miss Georgia Bottoms of Six Points, Alabama could do. 

If you have read this novel, leave your own comments about this book. Did you like the humor in this novel?  What was your opinion about the stereotypical characters used in the book, and were they believable in their roles?  Other readers would like to know what your thoughts are about Georgia Bottoms by Mark Childress. 

About the Author

Amy Morris

Amy Morris is a librarian technical assistant at the Westport Branch. She earned a B.A. in English, with an emphasis in creative writing, from Avila University. Besides reading and writing, Amy enjoys traveling, art, being creative, and spending time with her family.