The Southern ladies from The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood have returned in The Ya-Yas in Bloom, Wells' third effort to place her quirky ladies front and center.
With a bit of information from both earlier books, Bloom is instantly familiar as the antics of four little girls who become lifetime friends reintroduce their unique friendship, sticking to their loyalties through good times and bad. Vivi, Teensy, Caro and Necie pop up as toddlers in 1930, later as their older selves, along with a familiar "petite Ya-Ya": Sidda, Vivi's oldest daughter.
A couple of strange characters are introduced, relatively speaking, the prickly Mavis Spivey and her disgruntled daughter, Edythe. These two facilitate the plot twist that besmirches Well's Ya-Yas family album, so far filled only with inter-family problems. Now there is a quasi-mystery to solve, one that hopes to breathe life into the story.
Unfortunately, this Cajun stew doesn't have the joy and spice of the Divine Sisterhood, though Wells gives it the old college try. Charming at their most powerful and eccentric, very real women hid a number of serious issues behind the cheerful facade of their bickering and teasing. There was a real sense of generational connectedness that spoke to women, North and South, of the relationship between mothers and daughters and why secrets are kept to protect the innocent.
What was once inherently charming borders on the tedious as tales are rehashed in an effort to win a new audience. This is certainly a popular series that will have a local audience. But perhaps it is time for these Ya-Yas to gracefully retire, making room for a new bevy of Southern characters that the author creates so skillfully. These ladies have earned a well-deserved rest, permanent icons in a culture that joyfully welcomed them.