Midwest Book Review
By James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief
Small Press Bookwatch: December 2019
278 Orchard Drive, Oregon, WI 53575
The General Fiction Shelf
MIDWEST REVIEW SYNOPSIS of Bell Bottoms to Gucci by Ellen Everman
“Bell Bottoms to Gucci” is set in the year 1964 when the first protests of that era are born-campus takeovers, billy-clubbing, students being dragged into police vans, etc. Patti’s boyfriend, David, a student at UC Berkeley inspired by the real kingpin of protests in those days takes Patti under his wing and grooms her for the stereotypical role of hippie campus protester.
Hell No, We Won’t Go! echoes her true feelings about the Vietnam War during her college years. But after three assassinations and the Kent State shootings, Patti wears down and eventually admits her revulsion of the protests themselves. Upon graduation she returns home and grabs the gusto of a different life when she enters the yuppie corporate environment.
From The Plaza in NYC to corporate boardrooms to the Fifth Avenue pied-a-terre of a wealthy descendant of Dutch patroons, Patti navigates a world of deception, greed, high stakes and power players. Now out of sync with her previous love and peace persona and her beloved David, a descent into this darker world ensues.
What she doesn’t know is that her past relationships with conspiratorial figures involved in the Kennedy assassination are about to catch up with her in a life and death situation.
MIDWEST REVIEW CRITIQUE
A deftly crafted novel replete with cultural and political references identified with tumultuous decades of the ever evolving of babyboomer generation, Ellen Everman’s “Bell Bottoms to Gucci” is an original and entertaining novel by a skilled and talented storyteller that is unreservedly recommended for community library Contemporary General Fiction collections.
If you’ve ever wished you could re-live or go back in time and experience the colorful, music-powered, psychedelic 1960s and 70s, this novel is for you. Bell Bottoms to Gucci drops you into the year 1964 when the first protests of that era are born-campus takeovers, billy-clubbing, students being dragged into police vans, etc. Patti’s boyfriend, David, a student at UC Berkeley—inspired by the real kingpin of protests in those days—takes Patti under his wing and grooms her for the stereotypical role of hippie campus protester. “Hell No, We Won’t Go!” echoes her true feelings about the Vietnam War during her college years. But after three assassinations and the Kent State shootings, Patti wears down and eventually admits her revulsion of the protests themselves. Upon graduation she returns home and grabs the gusto of a different life when she enters the “yuppie” corporate environment. From The Plaza in NYC to corporate boardrooms to the Fifth Avenue pied-a-terre of a wealthy descendant of Dutch patroons, Patti navigates a world of deception, greed, high stakes and power players. Now out of sync with her previous “love and peace” persona and her beloved David, a descent into this darker world ensues. What she doesn’t know is that her past relationships with conspiratorial figures involved in the Kennedy assassination are about to catch up with her in a life and death situation.
Nothing less than an ode to baby boomers, Bell Bottoms to Gucci is likely to become the sine qua non hippie-to-yuppie transformation novel … one that examines both sides of the political fence with startling insight from an intuitive personal perspective … colored with references to the genius music that made those tumultuous decades as bright and shining as the ideals of love and peace themselves.
“Bell Bottoms to Gucci takes the reader … back to one of the most exciting periods of recent American history: the 1960s-1970s. The novel successfully evokes that era’s zeitgeist … within the context of an adrenalized thriller plot. The book will have great appeal to all who are fascinated with the wild creativity, rebellious politics, and dramatic events characteristic of the 60s and 70s American culture.”~ Richard Dietrich Maddox, Author of Remembering Eternity
“A smooth, compelling read of significant social impact spanning two decades of conflict, change and conscience. … In a distinctly lyrical voice, the author weaves this riveting tableau of intellect, history, adventure, and uncanny insight. The protagonist takes readers through the 1960s beginning an odyssey of love and confrontation in Berkeley, Calif., to success and intrigue in NYC and the edgy visit to Beverly Hills Supper Club in old mafia-haven Newport, Ky. Perfect reading companion, especially for those who lived during this era.”~Terry Armor, Former Journalist and Winner of the “Headliner Award” from the National Press Club
“Bell Bottoms to Gucci is a brilliant and intimate perspective of American protest during a period of social change; changes that transformed American culture and policy. As we approach the 55th anniversary of Freedom Summer, this book is a compelling reflection of cultural shifts allowing us to pause and think about current forms of protest and their lineage with the protests of the Sixties and Seventies…” ~ Christopher Miller, National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
“Having been a participating witness from the last half of the 1960s to the early 1970s during the counterculture revolution, I can assure you that Ms. Everman has hit upon and understands the zeitgeist of that tumultuous period of American history and beyond. A lyrical masterpiece, it is a reminder of our better selves and a call to action.”~ Geoffrey “The Captain” Nimmo, underground radio personality, formerly at WEBN-FM Cincinnati, WQXI-FM Atlanta, KSNO Aspen Colorado, and WPLJ-FM New York.
“What a great read! Vietnam protests, the Kent State fiasco, and government cover-ups regarding the Vietnam escalation with no hope of winning resonated in my memory. I feel sure it will resonate with those who lived during that epoch and also the younger generations who would prefer a more personal and up-close study of history during those turbulent yet exciting years.”~ Jack Moreland, President of Southbank Partners, Newport, Kentucky
For those of us coming of age in the early sixties the period was a brilliant explosion of events, emotions and transitions. Ms. Everman captures in Bell Bottoms to Gucci an engaging story of a generation’s struggle to define itself in times of billowing tumult. From the intellectual hotbed of UC Berkeley campus, the principle characters of Patti and David are launched into the Vietnam era of anti-war protests, the Free Speech movement and a rapidly changing moral climate. Their story careens with a young love in the midst of riots and breathless desperation of a couple on the edge of terror.
Ms. Everman’s style is sophisticated and eminently readable. She tells a story at once believable and exciting. Her rhythm and flow carry the story smoothly from one dramatic peak to the next, setting a pace that keeps the reader leaning forward into the story. I thoroughly enjoyed her handling of historic events from the Kennedy assassinations to the Kent State shootings that were handled with great respect and an accurate, sensitive connection to her story. Her style is grounded tenderly in the time period enhancing the reader’s sense of place.
From the very first the author develops her characters with a canny skill. I was fascinated by her use of subtext to create an intimate bond between her, her protagonist and her reader. She guides us through Patti’s evolution from a young woman, barely more than a teenager, consumed by her lover to the grown-up struggling with the ambiguity of life in turmoil. All of her characters are richly drawn moving the story forward in a coherent way tying together historic moments with the character’s personal drama. All her characters breathe deeply in the moment energizing the plot with vitality needed to carry a story through a generation.
And finally, Ellen Everman’s integrity rings throughout this entire work. She is literate and charming…a great story teller who excites without ever being crude. But most importantly, for me, she seems a lady of principle. Through her story-telling, she stands for her values of free speech and dissent. She gets what so many people today don’t get. We have too broadly become a people enamored with being comfortably numb…who settle for a suburban ghetto while our values and legacy are looted by common criminals masquerading as politicians. Ours is a government of the people, all the people and only the people. The words of the brave lift us up and those people are the real patriots. Thank you for your patriotism Ellen Everman! ~Dale Simpson, Author of Sober and Miserable, award-winning short story writer (Florida Writer’s Association), free-lance writer and blogger at https://soberandmiserable.blogspot.com <https://soberandmiserable.blogspot.com/
Your artfully written book obviously comes from your passions born out of reading, writing, story-telling and a desire to express the distinctions of an era in which you (and I) were a part. Your writing flows seamlessly from one character, progression of actions, scenario and time to others. Nothing in your book happens mechanically, as if it were “taught,” but rather as a completely authentic talent unfolding itself naturally. Sometimes your reader is treated to (true) surprises, sometimes endings of chapters with lucid summations of what had just taken place, etc. Your mystery is filled with detailed, observant descriptions, both of physical and of emotional-psychological natures, that fit, again, seamlessly into the story line. Similarly, there is a rich vocabulary of delightful similes and metaphors and little quips from various languages (French, Italian, Latin). I also appreciated the different speeds of action as required by what was actually going on at a given time – sometimes quickly to contribute to excitement or slowing down to contribute to a more reflective mood, again, as required by the story. Finally, this brought back SO many memories of growing up in the truly wonderful city of Greater Cincinnati as well as frequently visiting New York City, with their myriads of classy department stores, hotels and restaurants! This is truly a wonderful accomplishment of which you and your mentors should be very proud.❤️ ~by Lawrence Carr, Organist/Pianist at First Lutheran Church of Norfolk and Piano teacher at St. Patrick Catholic School, Virginia Beach, VA.
Just finished your book. Fascinating walk back through time. Suspenseful. And beautifully written. I found myself stopping to reread a passage that struck me as eloquently definitive of the moment. Lyrical writing.. ~ Cheryl Devine, DVM, August 12, 2019
I finished Bell Bottoms to Gucci right before the reunion. I can’t get it out of my mind. Your descriptions are amazing and took me back in time. Loved it!~Christie Crawford Savage, President of Crawford & Company, August 12, 2019
I just finished BBTG and I have to tell you how much I enjoyed it. I suspect one reason is because I grew up where the novel is set. So every mention of a landmark brings a wave of pleasant nostalgia. But, also, it’s a well-written tale of some very turbulent times we went through. You have a knack of leading readers down an apparently rosy path, until WHAM! you hit them with a cogent truth. I have to admit, I don’t cry reading books too often, but at the “friend coming home from Nam” passage, I sat fairly weeping for about five minutes. Had to stop, get up and pause in my runaway imagination. It’s a method used, I suppose, by a good teller of jokes who leads his audience on as if it were a true story, then, WHAM! HA, it’s a joke. And you use this method so well. Anyway, I will see you at the reunion, but I wanted to tell you this beforehand. I truly loved the book, plus the fact it was signed and numbered! What a treat!~Gary Meader, Nooksack, Washington, August 2019
A thousand Ellen Everman words is worth a truckload of pictures.~ Frank McElwain, Cincinnati Artist, August, 2019
I just received my signed copy of Bell Bottoms to Gucci. I already can’t put it down. I’m recommending it to all my baby boomer friends! I hope you’re happy, Ellen Everman….kennels not cleaned, dogs and chickens not fed. Dinner not started. I’m on Malcolm Chapter 11. Love it! This is a must read. Sooooo good. ~Pam McConnell, Lynchburg, Ohio, September 11, 2019
Thoroughly enjoyed Ellen Everman’s Bell Bottoms to Gucci–a fun and poignant memoiresque/political intrigue novel. Above all, it is a love letter to the counterculture day of the late 60’s/early 70’s. A lovely read–and quite an accomplishment.~ Peter Obermark, Adjunct Professor, Art Academy of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio
Ellen, I just now finished reading your book, and one thing I know for sure is that I’m holding a treasure in my hand! And a signed copy to boot! I so enjoyed it. Of course it’s a fictional work, but fiction that hits so close to real life truth. Especially nice was how you weaved in lyric quotes from pertinent influential songs. Your characters are so believable and interesting. Believe me, I have known a few Mary Lous in my time. I can’t really say that I have known any Pattis, though. David is like many protest leaders that I saw and heard in ’70-’71 on the UC campus. This is a great work, Ellen! It’s even ripe for a sequel in my opinion. ~Paul Milazzo, Covington, Kentucky musician and Woodstock attendee, 10-14-19
Your book summarizes the mid 60s to mid 70s perfectly. It was a joy to read, but also brought sadness as to what our country went through. Somehow, I think we are heading back to those tumultuous times. ~ Rick L. Parker, Cincinnati, Ohio, 11-22-19
“Your novel is so needed during these turbulent political times.” ~Sandra Rhein Holtsberry, Retired Kentucky Educator, 11-10-19
Bell Bottoms to Gucci reminds me a little of the way Voltaire carries Candide on from one horrific high point of the 18th century to the next in “this best of all possible worlds” before he finds sanctuary in his modest garden. Patti (the protagonist) is an engaging character if not an entirely accountable one, by which I mean it doesn’t take her too long to shed those revolutionary values and get (sensitively, intelligently, granted) in tune with the changing times. We see the high points of those hectic and not entirely authentic years (existentially speaking) through her. Then (the author) digs in and gradually (the) story becomes a thriller via the high point of the 60s including the Kennedy assassination. I like (the author’s) writing that is quiet and undistracted and focused on the intimacies of the personal life. ~Lamar Herrin, Professor Emeritus, Cornell University, 3-20
BEST BOOK EVER ! I took a stroll down memory lane reading BBTG. I remembered good times at Beverly Hills, Downtown, styles, most of all the era. ~ Darlene Combs Wright, 7-2020
“I’ve just begun reading Bell Bottoms to Gucci, and the writing has pulled me right in–into a tale that glitters with political intrigue, suspense, romance, the Newport mob(!) and lots more.”~From Best-selling author, Michael A. Banks
“I wanted to let you know just how much I have enjoyed BBTG. What a roller coaster ! It’s both well-paced and thought-provoking. It’s unusual for me to finish a book so quickly! I’m not normally a novel reader to be honest. But I found your novel easy to visualize so much although I was about 10 or 11 years old when the book’s early events were gathering pace. Maybe the most moving chapter for me was Malcolm. Although I was just leaving primary school and heading for grammar school when Vietnam was hitting the headlines here in the UK, I remember the TV footage well; it obviously made an impression on me even then. At the time I didn’t understand the politics behind it all but I do recall the images of helicopters and flames and devastation. Anyway, I just had to let you know how much I enjoyed the book. Can’t wait for the third in the trilogy.” ~Ian McGeorge, Manchester, England, UK
Your breadth of knowledge of the full picture of “human evolution” in this region, and your ability to portray it in your description of characters and venues have produced a work worthy of the interest of all Americans today. Of course, it is entertaining, and some people may not pick up on the “lessons” in it. ~ Philip Murphy, Former President at Village Development Corporation, Cincinnati, Ohio Dec 13, 2020
Enjoyed Bell Bottoms to Gucci…. A sweeping scope of remembrance of an important era in our recent history and full of insights. ~ Jerry Deaton, Kentucky Educator, June 2021
In her second novel, Bell Bottoms to Gucci, Ellen Everman introduces us again to Patti Rae Johnson, the protagonist in her book, Pink Dice. It is seven years later and Patti Rae has left the safety of home and family in Northern Kentucky for college life as a freshman at the University of California Berkeley, a hot bed of demands for social and civic change. Depending on the age of the reader, Everman reminds us of or introduces us to the social and cultural tumult of the middle 60’s to the middle 80’s of the 20th century. Civil and women’s rights, corporate greed, political assassinations, drugs, and organized crime are only a few of the topics explored here as seen through the eyes and experiences of Patti and her friends, many of whom appeared in Pink Dice. Femme fatale cousin, Mary Lou, good childhood friend, Malcolm, and Jake, the devastatingly attractive “bad boy greaser” and others join new characters including David, the charismatic rebel. Then there is Peter, the mysterious bodyguard and Joe, the demanding but alarmingly attractive boss, to engage us completely in Patti Rae’s passage into adulthood. Ms. Everman once again includes the elements of intrigue and danger that seem always to find Patti (as she now wishes to be called) making their way into her life as a struggle between national political and corporate interests that ultimately brings this period of her journey to a stunning conclusion.
Ellen Everman has written another winner! Her complex plotting and riveting characters, brought to life in her imagination and ours through her masterful skill with language, capture the attention of her readers and take us sometimes breathlessly into the wild ride that is the early adult life of the now less innocent but still searching Patti Rae Johnson. ~ Patricia Rae Wheeler, M.A., Adjunct Professor of Philosophy, Retired, Woodland Community College, June 2021
I was charmed and stirred by your book… by the way you construct your sentences filled with thought & observation…stirred by the circumstances of the times you evoke that I relate to effortlessly !! ~ Jane Nimmo Lejeune, Los Angeles, CA. November 21, 2021
What I enjoyed about Pink Dice and Bell Bottoms to Gucci is that you present your subject matter in a way that, while being sentimental in some aspects, shows the struggles that existed during their respective time periods. Both novels are nostalgic with a healthy dose of realism. Thank you for so accurately chronicling those days! ~Rob Arlinghaus, Musician, Villa Hills, Kentucky, 12-21
If you were there, then, you can return now. A stunning slice of time.
Ellen has managed to walk us back from Free Speech at Berkeley to the corporate boardroom with time/place visits to Cincinnati/Northern Ky, and the glitz of NYC. The story moves with a great pace and if you’ve ever lived any any of these places it will take you back.
What’s most impressive is the writing. She manages to choose just the right details (and the right amount) to engage every sense: smell, taste, place, sound and touch and do it all in a style that doesn’t distract from the storytelling.
You can see the characters and feel the tension between them. It’s a light breezy read and yet there’s a lot to unpack.
If you were “there” from the mid 60s through the 70s, survived and grew up, it’s time for a revisit.
And if you’re a writer, it’s a fine example of how a story should be told, elegant, crisp and engaging. ~Don Goldberg, Seattle, Washington Writer & Humorist December 2021
I have your wonderful book, the story of our times told authentically.~By Mary Ann Perkins, Research Scientist & Inventor, Cincinnati, Ohio June 2022
Wednesday- August 7, 2019 Joseph Beth Booksellers, Crestview Hills 7:00 p.m. Talk, Questions & Answers, Signing
Friday- August 23, 2019 The Booksellers on Fountain Square 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Wednesday- September 18, 2019 Cincinnati Public Library 7:00 p.m. Talk, Questions & Answers, Signing
Saturday- October 26, 2019 Books by the Banks 10- 4:00 p.m. signing
Sunday-November 3, 2019 Kenton County Book Event, Erlanger Branch, 401 Kenton Lands Road, Erlanger, KY 41018 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. For more information Contact Lise Tewes (859) 962-4000
Saturday- November 16, 2019 Kentucky Book Fair, Ky Horse Park, Alltech Center 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
CINCINNATI ART MUSEUM…ART PALACE….RE-LIVING THE 60s WITH ELLEN EVERMAN Podcast 72 https://soundcloud.com/cincyartmuseum/72-reliving-the-60s-with-ellen-everman
WKRC-TV LOCAL 12 INTERVIEW WITH ELLEN….BELL BOTTOMS TO GUCCI https://local12.com/news/good-morning-cincinnati/bell-bottoms-to-gucci-book-release-party?fbclid=IwAR3tgzDFwwWkr0XiCdAJGE-NpootsMQ1GXjCF4EbbXNVNB62FA8jGr-tlGc
WMKV Interview with Lew Gatch
WVXU NPR Radio Interview with Michael Monks https://www.wvxu.org/post/local-authors-new-novel-features-cincinnati-history?fbclid=IwAR3nX4sl7OpZE3qzlphMLvzefat_mnK2kLU_BmiRACaeyq9q4DpdeI-i5yU#stream/0
Interview with Lew Gatch WMKV Everybody’s Planning Hour
Proceeds from the sale of this book will also help other communities and organizations preserve their history through Our American Heritage Project, a non-profit organization.
About The Author
Book DetailsAuthor: Ellen Everman
Product Dimensions: 6” x 9”
Cover Type: Hardcover
Case Quantity: 18