Enjoy this title right now, plus millions more, with a free trial

Free for 30 days, then $9.99/month. Cancel anytime.

The Fixer Upper

The Fixer Upper

Written by Mary Kay Andrews

Narrated by Isabel Keating


The Fixer Upper

Written by Mary Kay Andrews

Narrated by Isabel Keating

ratings:
4/5 (84 ratings)
Length:
14 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Jun 23, 2009
ISBN:
9780061902277
Format:
Audiobook

Description

"Entirely satisfying, an expert balance of warmth and compassion, terrific supporting characters, a little steamy sex, and just enough suspense to keep you from guessing how it will all go down."
-Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A sassy, sexy, sometimes poignant look at small town Southern life, as only New York Times bestseller Mary Kay Andrews can tell it, The Fixer Upper is a must-read for fans of Fannie Flagg, Sophie Kinsella, the Ya-Yas, and the Sweet Potato Queens, and for every reader obsessed with decorating and home repair. It is a truly delectable story of a woman whose professional fall from grace lands her back in a hometown she never knew, amongst a gothic Southern family she's never met, and saddled with a task she could never have imagined.

Publisher:
Released:
Jun 23, 2009
ISBN:
9780061902277
Format:
Audiobook

About the author

Mary Kay Andrews is the New York Times bestselling author of 24 novels, most recently The Weekenders, as well as 10 critically acclaimed mysteries. A former reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, she lives in Atlanta, Georgia.


Related to The Fixer Upper

Related Audiobooks

Related Articles


Reviews

What people think about The Fixer Upper

4.1
84 ratings / 47 Reviews
What did you think?
Rating: 0 out of 5 stars

Reader reviews

  • (3/5)
    This novel provides interesting glimpses into the life of an unmarried Italian woman who emigrates from a country village in Italy to the United States in the 1880's. Irma tells her own story which starts out well, with a fair amount of detail, then rushes to a conclusion, following several traumatic, and life-changing, events. There are many characters, but most of them seemed flat to me, and although I was able to understand Irma's motivations, I just never felt any attachment to her or to her story.
  • (4/5)
    Loved this book! I received it as an advance copy, and you never know how those will be. This is a keeper!This is the late 19th century immigrant coming-of-age story of poor, plain Irma Vitale, a girl from a very small, rural Italian village. It's hard to imagine living as they did then - so isolated and ignorant of how the world works. For that reason, it must have taken great courage to leave and travel to the new world.I enjoyed reading Irma's progress in America, and especially about the strangers she took into her life, as they did for her.A little melodramatic at times, but all in all, a *very* satisfying read.I'll recommend this to my book club when it's released to the public!
  • (4/5)
    As others have said, this is actually a GOOD Early Reviewers book! I wasn't honestly expecting much, as the program has sent me some real groaners of books, but this one was a pleasant surprise.
  • (5/5)
    I really, really enjoyed this book. Poor Irma would take one step forward and two steps back, but guess what? It all works out in the end! Very well written :)
  • (2/5)
    The first part of this novel was enjoyable -- the author has clearly spent a great deal of time in Italy, and is able to give the reader a good sense of a place without being wordy. Unfortunately, the bulk of the story relies too heavily on a string of "oh, isn't that convenient" events and characters with overly-modern speech and philosophies, which snowball until the story becomes nearly unreadable. The need for "suspension of disbelief" is great here, but the story is not fantastic enough to create such a suspension. Despite the weighty topics including immigration, rape, abortion, and 19th century medical practices, the book ends up feeling very light and more like a short story (which is what the author wrote originally for the main character).
  • (5/5)
    When We Were Strangers is a compelling novel. I identified with how lost the main character, Irma, must have felt when she left her hometown to come to America. She suffered in a number of ways, and not knowing English for a period of time didn't help. While she was fortunate to have work, she was taken advantage of as so many women were in those days, especially immigrants. Her persistence, however, paid off and though she suffered other heartache and trauma, she came out in the end the kind of person that everyone loves and will miss. She was a hard worker and very respectful. She did what she had to do to survive, but she also thrived over time because she had a caring heart. She struggled with forgiveness, but given what she experienced that made sense to me. This novel was inspiring and just one realistic example of how someone could work hard and eventually prosper in America. In the era that this book was written there were many immigrants from all over the world all hoping for the same dream of a better life. Irma did end up with a better life, but in the end she lost some of her identity, though she tried to hold on to it. She was a strong heroine, but clearly flawed and three dimensional. I suffered along with her in a number of situations, but as life often does, even those painful incidents brought her to the one thing in her life that gave her the greatest sense of purpose. She found who she wanted to be, and I was inspired by that revelation. There are some situations in this story that are not for people who are easily upset, but they weren't overly graphic or anything like that. Just painful situations that too many women face. I won't give a spoiler here, so if you want to find out what I'm referring to, you'll have to read the book.
  • (4/5)
    I enjoyed much of the historical information that was woven through the fictional story of a young Italian immigrant girl coming to America. Very nicely written - moves along well as she moves to Cleveland, Chicago, and eventually California. It was easy to put myself in her shoes for a little while. Read this in one day.
  • (4/5)
    Loved it! Historical fiction story of one young Italian immigrants experience. A brave young woman who found her way, by herself, from the small Italian mountain village of Opi to America.
  • (5/5)
    I adored this book. It was rich with history from across the globe and it reminded me of why I love being American. I love the fact that even today you can walk down a city street and still get a feel of so many cultures mixed in one spot. No place else in the world can celebrate that difference. And yet, so many people forget to do just that, celebrate. It shows the great strength a woman has in such trying times. I have already passed the word on about this book and I have already passed on my copy. This is going to make a great gift and a great book for all those reading groups.
  • (4/5)
    This is an enjoyable if somewhat flawed story of an immigrant's journey. Irma Vitale, a young girl from the small village of Opi, Italy, lives in a time where the promised land of America beckons with tales of quick fortunes and land for the taking. Warned by her mother that those who leave Opi are cursed to die among strangers, Irma never intended to leave her small village until circumstances left her little choice. Determined to get to Cleveland, Irma embarks on a harrowing journey in steerage across the Atlantic. Speaking almost no English, Irma has no idea what to expect in America. Nonetheless, she scrabbles to find work and a place to live, pulling herself up by her bootstraps, so to speak, and determined to get a position making dresses for "fine ladies." Irma's journey takes her from Cleveland to Chicago and San Francisco, as her hopes and dreams shift and change along the way. She meets several unforgettable characters, many of whom are other immigrants and provide a vibrant snapshot of the melting pot of America. The writing is descriptive without overdoing it, and it's easy to 'be" in the scene with the characters. In all honesty, I found Irma's character somewhat irritating at first-- she was almost too good to be true. Her character rounded out as the novel progressed and she discovered other aspects of herself, and she became an endearing character that I found myself caring deeply for. It was hard to put the book down because I worried about Irma and wanted to know what happened to her next. If in the first half of the novel it seemed everything went wrong for Irma, the second half admittedly had a few too many good coincidences that seemed a bit unrealistic. Putting that aside, however, for me, the novel's many strengths made up for this. It's very well-researched in terms of the history, setting details (the author lived in Italy for a decade), and the intricacies of the immigrant experience. The characters are well-developed and easy to root for. This was an enjoyable read that was, despite the flaws, quite easy to get lost in.
  • (4/5)
    This book reminded me quite a bit of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. There is significant growth in both characters, and their immigrant (or immigrant family) status brings a wonderful culture to their stories. As stated by others, this story has indeed been told before, yet one finds themselves unnervingly attracted to Irma, wishing her well, reading impatiently to discover what else she can handle and can do. I don't usually describe books as 'hopeful' because I feel it gives it a cheesy taste, but I'll use it for When We Were Strangers. The ending left me hopeful, happy, and fully satisfied with the story of Irma's life. 4/5 stars.
  • (4/5)
    Irma Vitale grows up in the tiny village of Opi, in a remote area ultimately to become part of Italy. Her people are shepherds and, in her village, everyone is as close as family. When circumstances dictate that Irma leave her home, and travel to America, she does so with great reluctance, but in the hopes of finding her brother and making a life with him that will allow them to help her father and her aunt. Irma emigrates, first to Cleveland, then to Chicago and, ultimately to San Francisco. Her dream of becoming a dressmaker to fine ladies of fashion is realized after great struggle and hardship and then Irma, whose life has touched the lives of so many others, is taken as a sort of apprentice to a local midwife, who runs a medical clilnic for those who can't afford, or are afraid to seek, the help of the medical community. In doing so, Irma finds her life taking a wholly unexpected direction. Schoenewaldt has created, in Irma Vitale, a character that the reader can believe in and empathize with, The story of her life has thecredibility that is engendered by good research and by the careful fleshing out of actual circumstances and events. This story will be of particular interest to those whose grandparents or great grandparents may have made one of the mid-19th Century voyages in steerage in search of a better life for themselves and their children--and in doing so, left all that they knew and loved irretrievably behind. It helps the reader to understand and appreciate the magnitude of that sacrifice, and the courage required to make it.
  • (4/5)
    Excellent hsitorical ficition about a young woman's immigration journey from a small village in Italy to Chicago in the late 1800s. Vivid sense of time and place, memorable charcaters, and compelling story.
  • (5/5)
    When We Were Strangers blew me away.I mean, it's about time I read a b0ok in 2011 that gripped me as much as this book did and honestly, the binding I got for the Advanced Copy was rough to read, the words were half-faded and still, I didn't mind at all. Not a single bit. Because the story was that powerful.Irma is a woman with strength, character, and resolve, yet also I found in her innocence, fear, and a sense of loneliness. This character in a story exhibited every trait that I would strive to have when finding myself faced with the challenges she faced. This is an immigration story that, though told on a nearly day-by-day, common occurrences basis, was filled with adventure, longing, hope and more.Pamela Schoenewaldt writes so beautifully about Italy, about the culture, the food, the scenery. She describes with a brush of truth what life would have been like for a plain girl such as Irma. Without emotion to cloud the story (other than Irma's own emotion), I followed the ups and downs of every event with my heart in my throat. Honestly, this would make for a fantastic book club discussion book and I intend to write it down on my list.Fantastic, powerful novel and I'm so thankful to TLC Tours for providing me with the opportunity to read it.
  • (4/5)
    I really enjoyed this novel of a nice, innocent Italian girl who immigrates to the United States. Terrible and wonderful things happen to her and you see how a foreigner could find a home in this new country. I rooted for her, enjoyed her company.
  • (4/5)
    This book took some time to get going for be but once it did, i thoroughly enjoyed it.

    I found myself conflicted from time to time with it though. It seemed there were times reading it when I couldn't help but just want something GOOD to happen to her. Then again, being an immigrant in a new country can't ever be easy. It certainly wasn't for single women in the 1880s in America so I had to tell myself that it was probably more realistic than anything. People took advantage of immigrants. Sisters came over here looking for siblings, sometimes not finding them.

    I couldn't help but think of my own family's experience as I was reading this book. My grandmother's mother came to the US either in the late 1800s or very early 1900s from Slovakia to Ellis Island. Couldn't help but think of their own struggles as I read of Irma's.
  • (5/5)
    When Irma Vitale's mother dies and her father remarries, she realizes she has no future in her small mountain village. Too plain and poor to marry (not that there are many options in the town) she sets out on an odyssey that takes her across the sea to America--Cleveland, Chicago and more. Skilled in needlework, she finds a job in a dressmaker's shop. But this proves not to be the end of her journey.
    This is a beautifully written story, and I would recommend it highly.
    Note: I received this book as a gift from Reading Group Choices.
  • (2/5)
    Twenty-eight year old Dempsey Killebrew has just learned a hard lesson: the real reason people in power have assistants. One minute, Killebrew is a rising PR associate, Georgetown JD in hand, the next, she finds herself at the wrong end of a political scandal involving her PR firm and her slick, backstabbing boss. Looking for career advice, she looks to her dad who, in turn, offers her a less than stellar ?opportunity? to flip a family property in Guthrie, GA. Dempsey reluctantly packs her high-gloss city life into her bag and heads south where she finds a shack, rather than a house, and a borderline psychotic, shot-gun wielding great ?cousin who has taken up residence in the old place along with her grumpy cocker-spaniel. While she rails against the change in scenery at the beginning, Guthrie?s small town charm (and gentlemen) brings unexpected plot twists, sure to excite Andrews? faithful readers.I have no idea why this book, cover or synopsis, appealed to me but it did. Not only have I read nothing previously by Andrews, I have reading next to nothing that constitutes as ?chick lit?. That is not to say, as some assume, that I dislike female writers or even men writing about female protagonists. I just have not gotten around to the doilies and bachelorette parties because I fancy myself a reader of deeper things. I thought I should probably have a go at it and I do, to explain the cover fixation, occasionally like pink.The story itself is cute and fast paced, making a light summer read. I am not sure it had me hooked on the romance, though. For me, the love stories in romance novels always seem contrived. There is always one girl in town that the boys are after and she doesn?t seem to realize this until page 127. Eventually one lucky suitor wins out, leaving the others in the jolly, fraternal dust, and the rest is history (although not before a little bit of reluctant, soul searching on the part of the sought after protagonist). I will not drag this model across the coals as it is clearly a successful one and will resonate with many readers, no matter how many different ways it dresses up.I sat down to write my review, notes in hand, ready to go to town tearing apart character development, sexism, racism and a very loose concept of reality holding the piece together. And while I must get off my chest that I found Dempsey infuriatingly dimwitted and weak considering her place in Washington as a Georgetown Law School grad, I fear she is not based on complete and total fiction. Thankfully, before I launched into an essay on the pitfalls of female writers chucking their lady characters into the same bimbo category that many of their male counter parts are accused of doing, I remembered that this was not my usual reading; that it was, perhaps, just a piece of fiction meant for a breezy summer evening. Now, I will not for a second tell you that I?ve fallen highlighted head over Manoloed heel (look, I learned something: a Manolo Blahnik is apparently some type of shoe) in love with pink-pulp fiction but it was a silly fun read and for that I commend it.
  • (3/5)
    "Great self-discovery read - awesome characters!" Great author!
  • (4/5)
    I really enjoyed this book, the story, and the characters! I think this may be the first Mary Kay Andrews book I've read and I'm definitely planning on reading more by this author.
  • (4/5)
    I like a book that has me laughing as I turn the last page. The Fixer Upper is smart, funny, and pretty much charmed my socks off. The political story line is secondary to what I think is the main story - no, not the house rehab - I think its more about Dempsey fixing her life. Or at least, finding what she wants to do with her life instead of trying to measure up to her parents' expectations. In the process she meets some wonderful people in Guthrie who show her some of what life has to offer. If you're looking for a good book to read this summer, you can't go wrong with The Fixer Upper. It will be in bookstores on June 23.
  • (4/5)
    Dempsey Jo Killebrew finished law school and became a lobbyist in Washington D.C. Her boss, Alex Hodder is linked to a crooked politician and "Hoddergate" ensues. Dempsey is fired and set up as a scapegoat, so her father sends her to Georgia to check out a recently inherited house, hoping to "flip" it. When Dempsey arrives in the small town of Guthrie, GA, she can barely believe the state the Birdsong home is in. Not only is the house in tatters, but an elderly distant cousin is squatting on site as well. The FBI aren't far behind Dempsey in her escape to quite Guthrie, hoping to enlist her aid in turning the tables and incriminating Hodder. Throw in a handsome realtor/handyman and a handsome lawyer turned small town newspaper publisher and you have the makings of a great tale from Andrews
  • (2/5)
    Twenty-eight year old Dempsey Killebrew has just learned a hard lesson: the real reason people in power have assistants. One minute, Killebrew is a rising PR associate, Georgetown JD in hand, the next, she finds herself at the wrong end of a political scandal involving her PR firm and her slick, backstabbing boss. Looking for career advice, she looks to her dad who, in turn, offers her a less than stellar “opportunity” to flip a family property in Guthrie, GA. Dempsey reluctantly packs her high-gloss city life into her bag and heads south where she finds a shack, rather than a house, and a borderline psychotic, shot-gun wielding great –cousin who has taken up residence in the old place along with her grumpy cocker-spaniel. While she rails against the change in scenery at the beginning, Guthrie’s small town charm (and gentlemen) brings unexpected plot twists, sure to excite Andrews’ faithful readers.I have no idea why this book, cover or synopsis, appealed to me but it did. Not only have I read nothing previously by Andrews, I have reading next to nothing that constitutes as “chick lit”. That is not to say, as some assume, that I dislike female writers or even men writing about female protagonists. I just have not gotten around to the doilies and bachelorette parties because I fancy myself a reader of deeper things. I thought I should probably have a go at it and I do, to explain the cover fixation, occasionally like pink.The story itself is cute and fast paced, making a light summer read. I am not sure it had me hooked on the romance, though. For me, the love stories in romance novels always seem contrived. There is always one girl in town that the boys are after and she doesn’t seem to realize this until page 127. Eventually one lucky suitor wins out, leaving the others in the jolly, fraternal dust, and the rest is history (although not before a little bit of reluctant, soul searching on the part of the sought after protagonist). I will not drag this model across the coals as it is clearly a successful one and will resonate with many readers, no matter how many different ways it dresses up.I sat down to write my review, notes in hand, ready to go to town tearing apart character development, sexism, racism and a very loose concept of reality holding the piece together. And while I must get off my chest that I found Dempsey infuriatingly dimwitted and weak considering her place in Washington as a Georgetown Law School grad, I fear she is not based on complete and total fiction. Thankfully, before I launched into an essay on the pitfalls of female writers chucking their lady characters into the same bimbo category that many of their male counter parts are accused of doing, I remembered that this was not my usual reading; that it was, perhaps, just a piece of fiction meant for a breezy summer evening. Now, I will not for a second tell you that I’ve fallen highlighted head over Manoloed heel (look, I learned something: a Manolo Blahnik is apparently some type of shoe) in love with pink-pulp fiction but it was a silly fun read and for that I commend it.
  • (4/5)
    This was a fun read -- the first Mary Kay Andrews book I have read. The real fixer-upper in this book was the protagonist and the metaphor for it was an old Southern house in disrepair that the heroine fixes up. It was charming, funny and and I learned some things about hands-on rehab that I never knew. I only gave the book four stars, not five because it was a slow read. I put the book down and didn't feel any urgency to find out what would happen next but I did want to finish it. I may read additional books by this author, either from the library or maybe Book Mooch.
  • (4/5)
    Dempsy is a junior D.C. lobbyist whose boss has just landed in a public corruption scandal so bad that it has -gate added to its title. That's bad enough, but when he has his secretary deliver a pink slip to Dempsy and Alex refuses to answer any of the 19 voicemail messages she leaves on his voicemail, Dempsy starts to get a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach. Then her father offers her a way to get out of D.C. and regroup. Mitch has just inherited Birdsong, an antebellum plantation house in Guthrie, GA. Dempsy can go tidy up the house and slap a new coat of paint on it to get it ready to sell. Mitch will even split the profit from the sale with her. Sounds great!So what if Guthrie doesn' t have a Starbucks, or a mall, or a Whole Foods? Dempsy can rough it at the Piggly Wiggly. Only, things aren't quite what she expected.Birdsong is in MUCH worse condition than Mitch believed. It's also occupied by the meanest, orneriest octogenarian Dempsy has ever met. Ok, she can handle this. She went to Georgetown for Pete's sake! Then the FBI rolls into town and tells her that Alex Hotter, her former boss and mentor has passed the public corruption buck; straight to one Miss Dempsy Killebrew. Now she's looking at a possible 15 years instead of 15 paint chips. But the FBI and Alex Hotter are not nearly prepared for what Dempsy can do once she gets going! -Sara
  • (4/5)
    really enjoyed.....would make a cute lifetime film...
  • (5/5)
    There were times in the beginning and sometimes in the middle of the book where I wanted to reach in and smack Dempsey upside the back of the cranium for her naivete and lack of gumption, especially when it came to how she let her ex-boss and her father try to run her over. But when Dempsey got her fire back...watch out! It was a sight to behold and I cheered. It was a slow rather steady process of Dempsey getting her life back on track. Starting with the renovation of Birdsong. She took one step at a time, realized what she could and couldn't do or afford for the house. Along the way, Dempsey also learned that she was more than someone's daughter or fired underling. She learned from her contractor that she was capable of sanding cabinets and floors, painting walls, stripping wallpaper, and all that fun jazz. She also found gumption in dealing with Ella Kate, the grumpy squatter in Birdsong. Of all the characters in the book, Ella Kate was my favorite. She didn't take any crap, but she did take furniture...Anyway, once Dempsey found and got her intestestinal fortitude...she ROCKED!! There were some definite cheering going on from me, especially in some of the scenes towards the end of the book. Five the girl found her rockin' fortitude beans.....
  • (4/5)
    Dempsey Joy Killebrew, Georgetown Law Grad, lobbyist for big firm in DC gets fired after she is implicated by her boss in a scandal involving procuring prostitutes for a Congressman (among other things.) Now at this point in the story, I was ready to say that Dempsey wasn't the sharpest knife in the drawer, but for pete's sake--she graduated from Georgetown Law!! Anyway, she has no money, no job prospects, and therefore allows herself to be stashed away in Guthrie Ga to rehab an old house her father has just inherited from his great uncle. The house comes complete with the requisite dog (no southern story can do without a dog!) and a 79 year old curmudgeonly cousin Ella Kate who is squatting in the ruins and refuses to move.Now we won't say too much about Dempsey's absolutely miraculous makeover of the house --even Ty Bennington's crew couldn't have done that much work and fixed things up that beautifully on her pitiful budget in such a short time. But wait...there's more. Dempsey has to convince the FBI she's innocent and hire's the lawfirm of Berryhill and Berryhill to help her out of the mess. There's a romance. There's political and legal intrigue. There are courtly southern gentleman. There's a California moonbeam, spaced-out mother, and enough friendly, gossipy, nosey, and randy southern citizens of this small town to keep the reader turning pages and laughing out loud. And there's the star of the show: Ella Kate.In the end, Dempsey shows us what she's really made of, develops some self-confidence, pulls her brains out of storage, and becomes a heroine we can cheer for.It won't win a Nobel Prize, but it's a surprisingly good solid little romance for days when you want some chocolate with the marshmallow fluff. I loved it
  • (2/5)
    Not a great book, but an easy summer read. I liked part of the ending but it left me somewhat dissatisfied.
  • (4/5)
    Dempsey Killebrew, Georgetown Law grad, has been caught up in a DC scandal at the lobbyist where she was employed. Fired and without means to get a good job for the near future, Dempsey heads to her father's ancestral home (he just inherited) to hide out and make the house ready for sale. Her arrival in the small town of Guthrie GA is not met with applause (not that she was expected it but she didn't expect hostility either.)While nursing her wounds, she is tracked down and threatened by the FBI to cooperate in a sting to catch the head of the lobby (her old boss) and a dirty congressman. At the same time, the house needs not just a coat of paint but major renovations which don't make an irascible elderly cousin/squatter very happy.The book was fun and entertaining and caused some very heated discussion at my book club.