"Deep relationship drama"
Junk picker Carrie returns to her hometown, Oysterback,
Maryland on the Eastern Shore to attend her mother's
funeral. Carrie and her sister Earlene have been at odds
for years over lifestyles and even while trying to honor
the dead they argue. Both await their brother Delmar to
return with the ashes from Florida, but he is being
detained by police for an incident at the airport where
metal detectors were set off by their mom's urn.
Carrie is shocked to find Professor Jack Shepherd sleeping
in her mother's bed. He explains that he normally lives on
a boat, but her mother said he could use her house while
she was away if he needed to for some reason. Her former
boyfriend, the married Hudson Swann, also accosts Carrie.
She clearly explains to Hudson that they are the past
though she admits to herself that she wouldn't mind a
future with Jack.
Though here is a dark comical backdrop, WHOLE LOT OF
TROUBLE is a deep relationship drama that showcases family
rivalries and lingering disagreements and disappointments.
The sisters are a delight to observe fuss and fight while
their respective descriptions of their brother paint quite
a picture of him. Though some tension caused
by "outsiders" seems unnecessary, fans will appreciate this
no person is an island tale that emphasizes everybody needs
Reviewed by PNR Group Member
Posted April 10, 2003
In the tradition of Fannie Flagg, veteran storyteller Helen
Chappell, acclaimed author of Giving Up the Ghost, presents
a wry, funny, and poignant novel about two sisters, their
dead mother, and a Chesapeake Bay town where anything can
happen and frequently does.
Sometimes you have to go home again, even if you know the
trip is going to be one from hell. When Carrie points her
van in the direction of Oysterback, Maryland, her old
hometown, she does it only because she has no choice. Her
momma, the indomitable Audrey, has done the unthinkable:
she's died. And it wasn't a neat little Oysterback death
either. No, it happened in Florida and involved an
alligator. But, then again, there was nothing conventional
about Audrey, even in life. The same could be said for her
daughter Carrie -- single, perpetually searching, and
professionally adrift, she has become an expert at yard
sales, sifting through the detritus of other folks' lives,
then reselling it to shops that sell antiques and
assorted "collectibles." Her sister, Earlene, considers
Carrie a junk collector, but then Earlene has devoted her
life to being conventional. Married with two boys, she has
remained in Oysterback where she and her husband run the
View 'n' Chew, a combination video store-sandwich shop.
Momma had lived by the notion that a woman is incomplete
without a man and spent the years following her husband's
death trying to be as complete as humanly possible -- in
the process working her way through a whole parade of men.
As best Carrie can figure, her momma's last two flames were
Alonzo Deaver, the town's resident miscreant and a current
resident of the state penitentiary, and Jack Shepherd, a
college professor on the run from failure and boredom. Both
had been granted carte blanche to crash at Momma's house
whenever the occasion should arise (be it Alonzo's planned
escape from prison or Jack's escape from his ratty little
Once back in Oysterback, Carrie finds herself unwittingly
caught up in a family drama of epic proportions --
including Earlene's resentment (which leads to a classic --
and very messy -- confrontation), a now-married ex-
boyfriend's attempt to rekindle an old flame, her own
attraction to Professor Jack, and a roiling stew of anger
and grief over Momma's poorly timed passing. For while
Carrie never expected to go home again, she naively
believed it always would be there.
A Whole World of Trouble is a delightfully authentic comedy
of Southern manners and an antic, frequently hilarious,
pointed, and moving novel by a writer who knows the people
and the world she writes about.