Although this book reads exactly like a novel, and there is nothing on the blurb to indicate that it is anything but, Confessions of a failed Southern lady is actually the memoir of the author, Florence King. I picked it up as I needed something very different after Gissing and this book certainly fitted those criteria.
The author starts by stating that although "there are ladies everywhere...they enjoy generic recognition only in the South. There is a New England old maid but not a New England lady. There is a Midwestern farm wife, but not a Midwestern lady. There is most assuredly a Californian girl, but if anyone spoke of a California lady, even Phil Donahue and Alan Alda would laugh".
This book is devoted to Florence's grandmother's attempts to get turn her grandaughter into a Southern lady, having failed dismally with her mother. To escape these pressures, Florence goes to a college far away from home where she ends up falling in love with a female professor - pretty much contrary to what her grandmother would have wished for. However in the process of standing up for herself, Florence does eventually come to understand what her grandmother wanted for her and achieves some sort of compromise/
This is quite an entertaining book, more so I think once one realises that it is a memoir!
It's just been published once by Virago with this modern cover and an introduction by Sandi Toksvig.