from a housewife to a lady

Helen Ellis is back, with a bite. The acidic, acerbic writer who brought us American Housewife has returned with new essays in Southern Lady Code. Breaking down the old Southern myths and wives’ tales, Ellis decodes and demystifies the magic of being a Southern lady:

  • “Put together” is Southern Lady Code for you can take me to church or Red Lobster and I’ll fit in fine.

  • “It’s an heirloom” is Southern Lady Code for cold steel and gun powder.

  • “Showing him the ways of womanhood” is Southern Lady Code for tongue.

As I was reading these short bursts of sage frivolity, I couldn’t help comparing them to those in American Housewife. These felt more true-to-life, more honest, so I looked at the cover. Sure enough, where American Housewife was labeled “Stories,” Southern Lady Code says “Essays.” So when she talks about seeing ghosts, doing jigsaw puzzles, and the time her father hired a gunman to scare her and her friends, all that really happened, as opposed to declaring war with a neighbor in an expensive Manhattan apartment over the decor of the hallway (one of my favorites from American Housewife!) or dumpster diving with celebrities.

A Julia Sugarbaker for a new age, Helen Ellis is a true delight. Start here, with Southern Lady Code, and then move on to her other books and follow her on social media for even more spot-on observations that leave you nodding and giggling at the same time (or is that just me?).

tl;dr More Helen Ellis, please!

Galleys for Southern Lady Code were provided by Doubleday Books through NetGalley, with many thanks.