In 31 Paradiso, Francine Ephesians Didwell struggles to free herself from a controlling family, who recognize financial success as a sign of approval from God but are blind to their own shortcomings and failures. Her religious upbringing shuns all outsiders, but Francine finds it’s the support of her quirky Venice Beach community that shows her running from the past is no freedom at all.
About the Book
When Francine Ephesians Didwell loses the love of her life, she is forced to reconnect with her estranged family. She’s led two lives up until now, one with her troubled religious family, and another of emancipated rebellion with her lover. Adrift, Francine relocates to 1990s Venice Beach where she struggles to make a living doing massages and managing her new real estate of bread-and-butter apartments in hell. The novel moves between Francine’s new home and her family estate just fifty miles inland. Throughout, she is confronted and comforted by a host of characters: siblings and parents who offer a particular kind of conditional love, and the denizens of Venice Beach squatting on not-so-public property and wandering the neighborhood of her ‘almost’ beachfront home. Trying to live in both worlds, Francine discovers she must face the truth about dark family secrets or lose herself in the oblivion of drugs. Painful and funny, Francine’s life force and the wonderful characters of the mean streets of Venice illuminate every page.
Praise for Rhoda Huffey & The Hallelujah Side
Characters burst into reality from The Hallelujah Side holding tambourines and Das Kapital and tubes of Tangerine Kiss lipstick in their hands. Rhoda Huffey depicts Roxanne Fish’s struggle to grow up in her radically evangelical family with humor and see-through-you insight. Every reader will be rooting for Roxy to open her throat and sing her own unique soul in her amazing ‘porkchop’ voice.
― Sena Jeter Naslund, author of Ahab’s Wife
This is a wonderful book. It’s wonderful! I loved the people and sympathized with their idealism, even their metaphysics. And the author’s mastery of structural conjunctions in the story is a revelation.
― Louis B. Jones, author of Ordinary Money
Rhoda Huffey makes the Assembly of God Church in 1950s Ames, Iowa, seem like the most magical place on earth. Her wisdom and love for her characters glow from every hilarious page.
― Michelle Latiolais, author of Even Now and She: Fiction
Brimming with humor and wisdom, The Hallelujah Side is a wondrous tale told through the eyes of a precocious and charmingly earnest nine-year-old girl. With observations as sharp and honest as tempered steel, Roxanne Fish will make you laugh even as your heart breaks. Rhoda Huffey has written an infinitely fascinating and memorable novel.
― Connie May Fowler, author of Remembering Blue
About the Author
Rhoda Huffey is a tap dancer and writer. She lives in Venice Beach, CA with her husband and a houseful of rescue animals. She received an MFA from the University of California at Irvine. She has published a novel, The Hallelujah Side, and short stories in numerous magazines including Ploughshares, Green Mountains Review, and Santa Monica Review. The daughter of two Pentecostal preachers, Huffey writes about a world she knows with sympathy and feeling.