• by Laura Lane McNeal
  • Narrated by January Lavoy
  • 11 hrs and 12 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

A big-hearted coming-of-age debut set in civil rights-era New Orleans - a novel of Southern eccentricity and secrets.
When Ibby Bell's father dies unexpectedly in the summer of 1964, her mother unceremoniously deposits Ibby with her eccentric grandmother Fannie and throws in her father's urn for good measure. Fannie's New Orleans house is like no place Ibby has ever been - and Fannie, who has a tendency to end up in the local asylum - is like no one she has ever met. Fortunately, Fannie's black cook, Queenie, and her smart-mouthed daughter, Dollbaby, take it upon themselves to initiate Ibby into the ways of the South, both its grand traditions and its darkest secrets.
For Fannie's own family history is fraught with tragedy, hidden behind the closed rooms in her ornate Uptown mansion. It will take Ibby's arrival to begin to unlock the mysteries there. And it will take Queenie and Dollbaby's hard-won wisdom to show Ibby that family can sometimes be found in the least expected places.
For fans of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt and The Help, Dollbaby brings to life the charm and unrest of 1960s New Orleans through the eyes of a young girl learning to understand race for the first time.
By turns uplifting and funny, poignant and full of verve, Dollbabyis an audiobook listeners will take to their hearts.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful


After reading the reviews and description I had hopes for this book but sadly it didn’t make it. The story isn’t new. Orphaned/unwanted/abandoned/mistreated child is delivered into the hands of an eccentric Southern relative(s) where love grows and the child comes of age under the quiet oversight of the kindly, loyal black house help. It has been told by more skilled word crafters and in the voices of much more developed and memorable characters. That is but one of many issues I have. The book overflows with clichés, the most annoying of which is the ridiculous collection of names. We in the south do, on occasion name people things like Anne and Joe and Elizabeth. You wouldn’t know that from this book. Nor would you know that every African American does not have a colorful (and borderline racist) nickname. There were plot lines that initially caught my interest but they were never developed or were given quick treatment they became irrelevant (Apparently had Atticus Finch given Mayella Ewell a good stern talking to he could have resolved the whole false rape accusation thing in a matter of a chapter) And speaking of Atticus, I wonder how this book sits with African American readers. There are scenes of sit-ins and lip service to the civil rights movement but no evidence any of it---even taking part in it--- impacted of any of the central black characters or changed the way they relate to the whites. Stereotypes are everywhere and the take away lesson is that while we are "family" we still eat in the kitchen. Even the book’s big final reveal manages to evoke a subtle, uncomfortable racism while never actually addressing the racial issues it attempts to challenge. Some of this is bad writing, some bad editing and some just bad ideas. It’s too bad, it could have been an okay book, probably better tailored to a young adult audience. As it is the story has been told many times with a lot more skill.
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Fannie's dark little secret

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

Yes, I indeed would. I wasn't sure if I liked the book at first, but it grew on me and became a fantastic novel.

Would you recommend Dollbaby to your friends? Why or why not?

Yes, I would. It was well worth the purchase.

Which character – as performed by January Lavoy – was your favorite?

Fannie was fascinating and turned out to be one of the greatest outstanding characters. I would not have named it Doll Baby though Fannie's little dark secret fit it better . Ibby although the main character actually was a supporting character in my opinion.

Was Dollbaby worth the listening time?

Yes, of course I enjoyed this book. The setting was very fitting, the narrator was very fitting as well.

Any additional comments?

Nice novel with a surprising little secret at the end. I never would have guessed and as a writer myself it's often hard to surprise me, well done.

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- Debbie De "I totally enjoy a well written novel with a great narrator!"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-03-2014
  • Publisher: Penguin Audio