In the fading town of Rooster, Texas, all that’s really left is a service station, a church…and the Banty House, a long-ago Depression-era brothel. For more than seventy-five years, Betsy, Connie, and Kate Carson have called their mama’s house a home. The three eccentric sisters get by just fine with their homemade jams and jellies, a little moonshine on the side, and big hearts always open to strangers. Like Ginger Andrews.
An abandoned teen with a baby on the way and nowhere to go, she’s given a room to call her own for as long as she wants. The kind invitation is made all the sweeter when Ginger meets the sisters’ young handyman, Sloan Baker. But with a past as broken as Ginger’s, he’s vowed never to get close to anyone again. As a season of change unfolds, Ginger and Sloan might discover a warm haven to heal in the Banty House, a place to finally belong, where hope and dreams never fade.
For a long time now, I have touted Carolyn Brown as my go-to girl for small town reading, but The Banty House has taken that to next-level status!
Betsy, Connie, and Kate Carson have spent their entire lives in little Rooster, Texas. With every decade that passes, more and more of Rooster’s residents have packed their bags and left town. Today, there’s not much left in Rooster beyond the older families, the church, the Carson sisters (of course!), and their beloved Banty House. While one might suspect the Carson sisters, given their respective ages have slowed down, that is far, far from the truth.
For the past 60+ years, the Carson sisters have not only been gainfully employed in the most unusual of ways, but they have also staunchly and avidly protected their family name and legacy. In years past, when times were far harder than they are now, the Banty House saved the Carson women and kept them solvent in times when many others were not. The Carson sisters are not only proud of their heritage but proud to carry on its rules and traditions in their own particular way(s). First among the rules of the Banty House is to never turn away a stranger and/or a person in need.
Ginger Andrews is about as in need as a girl can get. At seven months pregnant and homeless, Ginger has finally run out of money and road in Rooster, Texas. Though she has no intention of staying in Rooster, Ginger also doesn’t have many choices and when the Carson sisters offer her a hot meal and a warm bed, at least for a night two, Ginger accepts their hospitality. Instantly, Ginger feels not only comfortable in the Banty House but accepted and liked, all feelings she has rarely every felt in the entirety of her young life.
Helping the Carson sisters at the Banty House is one of the most fascinating and rewarding jobs Ginger has ever had. Given their unusual interests and activities, the Carson sisters are the most surprising and delightful people Ginger has ever known. Outside of their oddities, there is also their kindness, wicked sense of humor, and willingness to help others. Ginger has never felt so accepted and cared for and while she never intended to put down roots in Rooster, leaving and/or the prospect of leaving becomes harder with each passing day.
Though life in such a small town would seemingly be lazy and slow, life in Rooster is anything but. While the Carson sisters aren’t ashamed of their past, some in Rooster aren’t thrilled with it and are always looking to stir the pot and cause trouble. As Ginger quickly discovers, the three elderly ladies are anything but old and more than willing to stand up for their beliefs, their heritage, and their way of life. They live by their momma’s rules, believe in God and a mostly righteous path, and defending that and those which they love and hold dear.
The Bottom Line: No matter what, I want to be the Carson sisters when I grow up! There were so, so many times I found myself laughing aloud and just marveling at the audacity of the Carson sisters. To be sure, they won’t tolerate any negativity toward their family and are willing to defend all, no matter the consequences. But, above all the hilarity and audacity was the strong sense of justice, family, and love that simply oozes out of the Carson sisters in both their words and their actions. As Ginger’s story unfolds, so does the Banty House/Carson family story and each revelation made me love the whole hot mess even more. Ginger is so young, and the influence of the Carson sisters touches her so deeply and profoundly that it alters her entire future in the best possible ways. I loved Ginger’ s story just as much as the Carson sisters and found this book as a whole to be simply fantastic. I’m not sure Carolyn Brown is going to be able to top The Banty House on my list of favorites, but I sure look forward to her trying to do so.