Belle of the Bayou is a satirical odyssey which takes Arabella Slominski Boot from Montreal to Lafayette, Louisiana in hot pursuit of her own liberation. At forty years old, all Arabella wants is to get in touch with her spiritual side and raise her sensitive, effeminate son in a stable family environment. Unfortunately for her she's married to Roman Boot -- a man who wears Listermint as cologne, thinks foreplay is a golf stroke and sucks up Arabella's spirituality like a vacuum.
She resigns herself to these circumstances, making do with her modest lot in life, until one day Roman oversteps all bounds of propriety. Propelled by a sudden ''flare-up'' of feminism, Arabella and her son flee the confines of an unsatisfying life and head south to board with her aging mother.
En route to independence, Arabella falls in love with an aging jazz Musician who lives out of his saxophone case. Joe 'Hooty' Birmingham is a nomad who lives for the moment. Arabella craves security and long-term commitment. While trying to discover some sort of methodology with which to reconcile their lifestyles, Arabella's son careens into puberty and her mother into bitter old age. Added to the demands of her full-time job at Le T'is Cajun Gazette, there simply isn't time for meditation or introspection, which, her palm-reading best friend Gypsi claims, are the two basic prerequisites for inner peace.
But there is time for a little voodoo.
With a few jabs into a 99-cent Bourbon Street voodoo doll, Arabella wreaks havoc on the remains of her ex-husband's existence. But the revenge is bittersweet. Arabella, accustomed to having no power at all, has suddenly acquired more than she can possibly manage. And just when she most desperately needs a glimpse into the future, her friend Gypsi's powers of palmistry are inconveniently skewed by menopause. Perhaps Hooty can teach her how to live for the moment and how to find joie de vivre.
'It is the married woman's Thelma and Louise, but with a happy ending. Arabella is a true heroine of the nineties; she not only survives her complicated situation, but also learns to assert herself and to choose what she wants. If Belle of the Bayou is indeed a fable, its moral rings clear and triumphant.'
'Belle of the Bayou is an engaging and enjoyable study of a woman coping with modern life.'
'Belle of the Bayou is a tumultuous and funny, yet underplayed novel which unfolds in quiet, marvelous prose that tastes faintly of Eliza Clark's Miss You Like Crazy. Broken into nearly independent stories that fit into a perfect whole, Belle of the Bayou makes for a fine debut.'