Cover image for Loose lips
Loose lips
Brown, Rita Mae.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Bantam Books, 1999.
Physical Description:
374 pages ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
Angola Public Library X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
Grand Island Library X Adult Fiction Open Shelf
Lancaster Library X Adult Fiction Open Shelf
Orchard Park Library X Adult Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



If you crossed Mitford, North Carolina, with Peyton Place, you might come up with Runnymede, Maryland, the most beguiling of Southern towns. InLoose Lips, Rita Mae Brown revisits Runnymede and the beloved characters introduced inSix of OneandBingo, serving up an exuberant portrayal of small-town sins and Southern mores, set against a backdrop of homefront life during World War II. "I'm afraid life is passing me by," Louise told her sister. "No, it's not," Juts said. "Life can't pass us by. We are life." In the picturesque town of Runnymede, everyone knows everyone else's business, and the madcap antics of the battling Hunsenmeir sisters, Julia (Juts) and Louise, have kept the whole town agog ever since they were children. Now, in the fateful year of 1941, with America headed for war, the sisters are inching toward forty...and Juts is unwise enough to mention that unspeakable reality to her sister. The result is a huge brawl that litters Cadwalder's soda fountain with four hundred dollars' worth of broken glass. To pay the debt, the sisters choose a surprisingly new direction. Suddenly they are joint owners of The Curl 'n' Twirl beauty salon, where discriminating ladies meet to be primped, permed, and pampered while dishing the town's latest dirt. As Juts and Louise become Runnymede's most unlikely new career women, each faces her share of obstacles. Restless Juts can't shake her longing for a baby, while holier-than-thou Louise is fit to be tied over her teenage daughter's headlong rush toward scandal. As usual, the sisters rarely see eye to eye, and there are plenty of opinions to go around. Even the common bond of patriotic duty brings wildly unexpected results when the twosome joins the Civil Air Patrol, watching the night sky for German Stukas. But loose lips can sink even the closest relationships, and Juts and Louise are about to discover that some things are best left unsaid. Spanning a decade in the lives of Louise, Juts, and their nearest and dearest, including the incomparable Celeste Chalfonte,Loose Lipsis an unforgettable tale of love and loss and the way life can always throw you a curveball. By turns poignant and hilarious, it is deepened by Rita Mae Brown's unerring insight into the human heart.

Author Notes

Rita Mae Brown was born in Hanover, Pennsylvania, on November 28, 1944. She received an associate's degree from Broward Junior College in 1965, a B.A. in English and classics from New York University in 1968, a Cinematography Degree from the School of the Visual Arts in 1968, and a Ph.D. in English and political science from the Institute for Policy Studies in 1976. She was the writer-in-residence at the Women's Writing Center of Cazenovi College and a visiting instructor teaching fiction writing at the University of Virginia.

After publishing two books of poetry, she published her first novel, Rubyfruit Jungle, in 1973. Her works include The Hand that Cradles the Rock, Sudden Death, Venus Envy, Loose Lips, and Rita Will: Memoir of a Literary Rabble-Rouser. She writes the Mrs. Murphy Mystery series and Foxhunting Mysteries series. She also writes screenplays and teleplays including Sweet Surrender, Room to Move, Table Dancing, and The Long Hot Summer. Her work on TV earned several Emmy nominations and she received the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Variety Show in 1982 for I Love Liberty.

(Bowker Author Biography) Rita Mae Brown is the author of many novels, including "Outfoxed" & "Loose Lips". She & her collaborator, Sneaky Pie Brown, have written eight previous Mrs. Murphy mysteries, most recently "Pawing Through the Past".

(Publisher Provided)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Brown, at least in her nonmystery novels, plants both feet firmly in the southern-yarny school of storytelling. It is 1941 in the small Maryland town of Runnymede, and the two adult Hunsenmeir sisters, Julia Ellen and Louise, haven't gotten along since--well, since forever. As one town resident says, "Out of each other's sight they behave as relatively normal people. Put them together and they're six and ten all over again." One day, their conflict actually erupts into an out-and-out brawl in the local drugstore. To pay for damages, the sisters decide to open a beauty salon. It doesn't take long for the Curl 'n' Twirl to become Gossip Central. For the next decade, we witness the sisters growing older and playing out the ups and downs in their relationship with each other and with the town they are so intimately involved in. Despite their catfights, the sisters are basically supportive of each other. At one point, one sister says, "I'm afraid life is passing me by," to which the other responds, as they embrace, "No, it's not. Life can't pass us by. We are life." Brimming with Brown's comic sense of social posturing and missteps, her rich novel lets readers laugh with her at the personal foibles that seem to loom so large in small-town settings. Brown has a considerable following, and even readers unfamiliar with her should be encouraged to enjoy this fondly rendered domestic comedy. --Brad Hooper

Library Journal Review

They're back! The irrepressible Hunsenmeir sisters of Runnymede, the fictional town straddling the Maryland-Pennsylvania line, are literally in fighting form after a long hiatus. Louise and Julia (Juts), both in their thirties in 1941, squabble at the town soda fountain and cause almost $400 (in 1941 dollars!) in damages in just the opening pages. In the 11 years spanned here, Hansford Hunsenmeir returns years after abandoning his wife and daughters, Louise copes with daughter Mary's first love and daughter Maizie's confusion, childless Juts and husband Chester adopt Nicole, and the sisters' Civil War Patrol duty provides endless town gossip after Louise mistakes a flock of geese for German Stukas and the alarm rouses Chester from his mistress's bed. This is neither prequel nor sequel to either Six of One (LJ 9/1/78), which introduces Runnymede's residents, or its sequel Bingo (LJ 10/15/88) but basically a loving, laugh-provoking expansion of years covered in the former. Time has honed Brown's literary skills but not lessened her love for these characters, and she has a winner here. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 4/15/99.]√ĄMichele Leber, Fairfax Cty. P.L., Arlington, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Life will turn you inside out. No matter where you start you'll end up someplace else even if you stay home. The one thing you can count on is that you'll be surprised. For the Hunsenmeir sisters, life didn't just turn them inside out, it tossed them upside down, then right side up. Perhaps it wasn't life whirling them around like the Whip ride at the fair. They upended each other. April 7, 1941, shimmered, a light wind sending Louise's tulips swaying. Spring had triumphantly arrived in Runnymede, which straddled the Mason-Dixon line. The residents of this small, beautiful town, built around a square before the Revolutionary War, waxed ecstatic since springtime warmth had arrived early this fateful year. Probably every year is fateful to someone or other, but some years everyone remembers. On April 7, though, Fate seemed far away, shaking up countries across the Atlantic Ocean. Julia Ellen, "Juts," slammed the door to her sister Louise's house. She pursed her lipstick-coated lips and blew a low note then a higher note, like a towhee bird. Snotty bird-watchers like Orrie Tadia Mojo, Louise's best friend from her schoolgirl days, called it a Rufous-sided towhee. Juts always pronounced it two-ey, since it uttered the note twice. Hearing no response, Juts whistled again. Finally she yelled, "Wheezer, where the hell are you?" Still no answer. Juts had celebrated her thirty-sixth birthday on March 6. She'd always possessed megawatts of energy, but as she zoomed through her thirties she accumulated even more energy, the way some people accumulated wrinkles. The only person who could keep up with her was Louise, four years older; since Louise lied shamelessly about her birthday everyone "forgot" her exact age except Juts, who held it in reserve should she need to whack her sister into line. Cora, their mother, remembered also but she was far too sweet to remind her elder daughter, who was having a fit and falling in it over turning forty. This momentous occasion had just occurred on March 25. Even Juts, out of pity, pretended Louise was thirty-nine at the birthday party. Both sisters roared through life, although they roared in different keys. Juts was definitely a C major while Louise, an E minor, could never resist a melancholy swoon. Juts stubbed out her Chesterfield in the glass ashtray with the thin silver band around the edge. "Louise!" she shouted as she opened the back door and stepped out. "I'm up here," Louise called from the roof. Julia craned her neck; the sun was in her eyes. "What are you doing up there? Oh, wait, why should I ask? You're singing 'Nearer My God to Thee.'" "I'll thank you to shut your sacrilegious mouth." "Yeah, yeah, you walk on water. I came over here to take you to lunch at Cadwalder's but you're such a pill I think I'll go by myself." "Don't leave me." "Why not?" Louise hesitated. She loathed asking her younger sister to help her because she knew she'd have to pay her back somewhere, sometime, and it would be when she least wanted to return a favor. "Oh." Julia tried to conceal her delight as she spied the white heavy ladder behind the forsythia bushes, a rash of blinding yellow. "Gee, Sis, how awful." She started walking away. "Julia, Julia, don't you leave me up here!" "Why not? I can't even crack a joke around you but what it gets turned into a spiritual moment by Runnymede's only living saint. Oh, let me amend that, by the great state of Maryland's only living saint." "What about Pennsylvania?" "We don't live in Pennsylvania." "Half of Runnymede is over the line." "You mean over the top, don't you?" Julia crossed her arms over her chest. "You know what I mean." Irritation crept into Louise's well-modulated soprano. "Pennsylvania is so much bigger than Maryland, kind of like a tarantula compared to a ladybug. I'm sure there are lots of living saints in Pennsylvania, probably in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, but then again--" Louise cut her off. She knew when Juts was heating up for one of her rambles. "Will you please put the ladder up?" "No. Mary and Maizie will be home from school in two hours. They can put it up." Louise's younger daughter, named after Julia Ellen, had been given the nickname Maizie to distinguish her from her aunt. "Now listen, Juts, this isn't funny. I'm stuck and those noisy kids might not hear me when they get home. Put the ladder up." "What do I get out of it?" "Maybe you should ask what you don't get out of it." As Louise edged toward the roofline, little bits of asphalt sparkles skidded out under her heels. "Bet it's getting hot up there." "A tad." "What are you offering me?" "No more lectures on your smoking or drinking." "I hardly drink at all," Julia snapped. "I am so sick of you claiming that I drink too much." "I have yet to see a Saturday night that you don't fill with whiskey sours." "One night out of seven--it's Saturday night, Louise, and I like to go out with my husband." "You'd go out whether he was here or not." "What's that supposed to mean?" "It means you can't live without male attention and if I were your husband I wouldn't let you out of my sight." "Well, you're not my husband." Julia dragged out the heavy ladder but didn't prop it against the gutter of the roof. "How come your nose is out of joint, anyway?" "Isn't." "Is." "Isn't." "Liar." Excerpted from Loose Lips by Rita Mae Brown All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Google Preview