The Bad Behavior of Belle Cantrell

The Bad Behavior of Belle Cantrell by Loraine Despres grabbed me with its opening lines. The book starts, "Belle Cantrell felt guilty about killing her husband, and she hated that. Feeling guilty, that is. A lady shouldn’t do something she’s going to feel guilty about later was a rule Belle kept firmly in her mind, along with its corollary: No sense in feeling guilty about all the little pleasures life has in store for you."

I fell in love with Despres’s first novel, The Scandalous Summer of Sissy LeBlanc, and the main character, Sissy (you can read my post about Sissy here). Belle is Sissy’s grandmother, so I couldn’t wait to read about her. 

The book introduces us to Belle in the 1920s. She is a young widow and is pushing the limits of what society deems socially acceptable for her. It starts when she decides to cut her hair and keeps getting better and better. 

Here are some questions I found online to get some ‘virtual book club’ discussion going: 

 

he Bad Behavior of Belle Cantrell celebrates the tie between women of different generations. Discuss the relationship between Belle and Miss Effie. How did it change? What was Belle’s relationship with her own mother? How did it change? Do you think their relationship affected Belle’s relationship with her own daughter?

Belle makes up her own rules for her "Girl’s Guide to Men and Other Perils of Modern Life." If you had to pick one, which rule did you find the funniest? Appropriate for our time? Would you like to make up your own rule? Would you like to share it?

Do you think Belle was foolish or wise to risk so much for love?

 

My question for readers is, did you read Sissy first? Do you think that created expectations for how Belle would act? Do you want to re-read Sissy now that you know more about Belle? 

Do you have any discussion topics? Post them in the comments!

If you’d like to learn more about the author, you can visit her Web site at www.lorainedespres.com. Also, I was lucky enough to interview Despres for an author Q&A on this blog last month. We had a wonderful conversation and Despres spent so much time with me that I had to break the Q&A into two posts. Read the first Q&A here and the second here. 

 

3 Responses to “The Bad Behavior of Belle Cantrell”

  1. Janice Martinsen says:

    I read Sissy first and really liked her story. But I LOVED Belle. She definately had more spunk.I felt like Sissy reacted to situations, whereas Belle created the situations! Belle is a witty, headstrong woman facing many obstacles not only in her own life (being a young widow, an overseer of her farm) but in society as well (rights of women, rights of blacks, the KKK and also Jewish prejudice). This book was a wonderful history lesson with a romance woven in. LOVED IT!!

  2. Mindy Long says:

    I want to go back and re-read Sissy and pick up on all the little things I may have missed about Belle. I couldn’t believe Bourre was in the story!

    I do think Belle was either a little foolish for getting involved with Rafe and Bourre or maybe she was just ahead of her time. Since I am roughly the age Belle is in the story, I have to laugh about her calling herself middle aged and at her daughter thinking she was so old.

    I like so many of the rules–my favorite is probably the first one about guilt or ‘A girl has to enjoy what she’s got while she’s still got it to enjoy.’ I do think I could relate to Sissy’s rules a little more, but I liked to read Belle’s and think about how they evolved for Sissy.

  3. Carol says:

    Oh! I haven’t had a chance to finish it yet, but I am halfway through! I love it so far.

  1. Janice Martinsen says:

    I read Sissy first and really liked her story. But I LOVED Belle. She definately had more spunk.I felt like Sissy reacted to situations, whereas Belle created the situations! Belle is a witty, headstrong woman facing many obstacles not only in her own life (being a young widow, an overseer of her farm) but in society as well (rights of women, rights of blacks, the KKK and also Jewish prejudice). This book was a wonderful history lesson with a romance woven in. LOVED IT!!

  2. Mindy Long says:

    I want to go back and re-read Sissy and pick up on all the little things I may have missed about Belle. I couldn’t believe Bourre was in the story!

    I do think Belle was either a little foolish for getting involved with Rafe and Bourre or maybe she was just ahead of her time. Since I am roughly the age Belle is in the story, I have to laugh about her calling herself middle aged and at her daughter thinking she was so old.

    I like so many of the rules–my favorite is probably the first one about guilt or ‘A girl has to enjoy what she’s got while she’s still got it to enjoy.’ I do think I could relate to Sissy’s rules a little more, but I liked to read Belle’s and think about how they evolved for Sissy.

  3. Carol says:

    Oh! I haven’t had a chance to finish it yet, but I am halfway through! I love it so far.