The Fixer Upper: A Novel

The Fixer Upper: A Novel

by Mary Kay Andrews


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“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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060837396
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 07/10/2012
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 138,481
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.20(d)

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.


Atlanta, Georgia

Date of Birth:

July 27, 1954

Place of Birth:

Tampa, Florida


B.A. in newspaper journalism, University of Georgia, 1976


Mary Kay's Favorites


REBECCA by Daphne du Maurier
VOID MOON by Michael Connelly
BIG STONE GAP, by Adriana Trigiani
CRAZY FOR YOU by Jennifer Crusie
GET SHORTY by Elmore Leonard

SABRINA (the original with Audrey Hepburn)
CHARADE (again the original with Audrey Hepburn)
AUNTIE MAME (not the gawdawful musical)

Movie Musicals

Decorating Books
SHABBY CHIC by Rachel Ashwell
A HOUSE IN THE SOUTH by Frances Schultz and Paula Wallace
AN AFFAIR WITH A HOUSE by Bunny Williams

Top Five Renovating Tips
1. An old house needs old doors, hardware and fixtures. Nothing says "new and cheap" faster than a flimsy hollow-core door and bright gold repro brass hardware. Look for solid wood doors and wood frame windows at salvage yards and antique markets. And don't forget to check the "building materials" category on Craigslist. I got all the doors for my beach house off Craigslist-for $5 apiece. Vintage hardware can frequently be found at flea markets, or check online sources like eBay.

2. Vintage light fixtures give a great look-but be sure you factor in the cost of re-wiring them, and finding good-looking shades. Nothing gives a lamp that "granny" look faster than a dingy yellow shade.

3. Before you invest in antique cast-iron claw-foot tubs or sinks, make sure they have proper fittings. Measure drains and faucetspreads and make sure you can find new ones that will fit and function properly. Antique toilets are generally a bad idea-most local codes require low-flow toilets for water conservation.

4. Before re-wiring a house, put together a furniture floor plan. You don't want a heat register under the living room sofa, but you will want outlets on either side of the bed for reading lamps, and for any area that might be used as an office you'll want plenty of grounded plugs. And how about that flat-screen television your husband wants? Plan now for cable locations.

5. Be flexible. A great fireplace surround could become a headboard, as could an old paneled door-turned sideways. And that leaded glass window that had to be removed in the remodel? Why not fit it with mirrors and a hinge and make it into a bathroom medicine cabinet?

My Five Best Junking Finds:

1. Pair of barrel-back armchairs--$30 at an estate sale. They were covered in gold embossed vinyl when I found 'em. But with the legs stained ebony, and a gorgeous blue Ralph Lauren fabric reupholstery, they're perfect by my fireplace.

2. Set of eight antique Wedgewood black and cream transferware plates--$30 at an estate sale. The seller's mother used some of them for cat dishes, others as an ashtray!

3. Vintage landscape oil painting, Tuscany maybe? Or Provence? Who cares! Bought at a "divorce sale"-the ex-husband sold this beautiful painting for $50 because it had belonged to his ex-wife. I spent a small fortune framing it, but it's the basis for a collection of treasured landscape paintings.

4. Wicker settee, Salvation Army find for $25. I'd walked to the store, and had to hoof it back home in a hurry for money and my car.

5. Faux alligator train case-found at a yard sale. When I asked the seller if she'd do better on the price, she replied that she'd give it to me for free-if I could figure out how to open it. Since it had a combination lock like the one on my high school graduation luggage, I twirled the dial to 0-0-0-because I never figured out how to change mine-and sure enough, the lock popped open. Score!

Customer Reviews

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The Fixer Upper 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 234 reviews.
Heart2Heart More than 1 year ago
My Review: What a wonderful and intriguing story of a renovation of an old Georgian Mansion called Birdsong and the latest indictment of Dempsey's old boss Alex for allegedly trying to buy his way into an oil company's bill in Washington. Since Dempsey works for Alex as a junior associate lobbyist, she finds herself embattled with this FBI investigation when her boss turns her in to the FBI and claims himself innocent of all charges. He subsequently fires her as a way of making the story stick. Since Dempsey can't really work in Washington right now, her father, Mitch, wants her to head down to Georgia to fix up and flip an old house he has inherited from his grandfather. What Dempsey finds there is truly an overgrown money pit, complete with a live in, old lady who insists the house belongs to her. The Fixer Upper by Mary Kay Andrews takes you on quite adventure in not only the art of restoring a home where every penny counts and just when you think there isn't anything more than can go wrong, it does! The characters are so believable that you wonder if Birdsong really doesn't exist. This is a fabulous summer read that takes you away and you can completely lose yourself in another life. I received The Fixer Upper, compliments of TLC Book Tours and would rate this book a 9 out of 10. There are some sexual scenes between Dempsey and her attorney's son, but they are brief and don't distract from the story. For more information on this wonderful book, the author and where to obtain your copy, click on the link below:
jenameyers More than 1 year ago
This is how one of the characters describes a book she is reading and it can be applied here. It is not a condemnation of the book, just an explanation. It was an easy-breezy, fairly predictable read, which I thoroughly enjoyed. If you are looking to expand your horizons or stretch your imagination, look elsewhere. But if you are looking for a relaxing read, this book fills the bill.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a fun book. I happened upon Mary Kay Andrews when I spotted Savannah Blues on the community book shelf at work and have been a fan ever since. My friend just borrowed this book and read it at one sitting. Different from the other Andrews books in that it starts off with in DC rather than the south and involves a political scandel. One of my favorite MKA books. Can't wait for the next book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really got into this book! I could not put it down! the characters were very likeable but i do wish there was more about Dempsey and Tee. I loved them as acouple and was very disappointed with the way the story ended. I wish she would of written more about dempsey and Tee and what happens for them in the futre! Overall i liked the story!
Dollycas More than 1 year ago
Dempsey Killibrew has worked as a lobbyist for a very short time when a political scandal breaks and she finds herself without a job, broke and homeless. Her father comes up with the perfect solution, he has just inherited a house in Gurthrie, Georgia, that the lawyer assures him that with a TLC the house will sell for much more than it's current appraisal. He convinces Dempsey to get out of Washington and head to Georgia to give the house a good cleaning and a little paint and he'd split the profits with her. Well when Dempsey get to the small town and sees the house she knows it a much bigger job than she ever imagined, plus she has inherited a 79 year old "mean old lady" and her dog as part of the deal. She also realizes that small town life is much different from anything she has ever experienced. Everyone knows everything about everybody. She rolls up her sleeves and gets to work trying to return the house to the beautiful home it once was only to have the FBI come calling trying to pin the whole Washington scandal on her. We see a totally new Dempsey emerge as the story continues. The was a very enjoyable story as are all of Mary Kay Andrews sagas. It's the kind of story that even after the last page is read you want to know more, after the crisis is over what happens to all the characters. You become so involved in the story, the family feels so real.
paula-e More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, as I have almost all of this author's! Funny and engaging and thoughtful too. She just doesn't write fast enough--- I am ready for the next book!!!
GeorgiaGalSB More than 1 year ago
Living in the South, I love Mary Kay Andrews' style and her characters are people I can identify with. Her books are always more entertaining than the latest movie and are always my first choice for a trip read. Her Savannah books are my favorite so far. I love these characters and hate for each story to end!
Daphne57 More than 1 year ago
I have been a fan of Ms Andrews from her first book to this recent publication.While this one wasn't bad I missed the atmosphere background I have come to enjoy. Being a displaced southerner her books were bits of home that were memory provoking and amusingly spot on in detail. I look forward to the next book. Her heroines while very twenty-first century still leave a hint of honeysuckle behind.
HurleyGirl More than 1 year ago
I love the character, Dempsey Jo Killebrew and her family. I was looking for a good read with a "southern flare" and this book was the ticket. The main character, Dempsey loses her job and winds up in a political scandal. Her Dad gives her a chance to escape to a home he inherits called "Birdsong". She arrives to find out that an old lady is living there and does not want Dempsey to be there. They form a bond in the end and Dempsey also finds love... it's a great read. I love Mary Kay Andrews. She is a great author....
maggieLB More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. Hats off to Mary Kay Andrews and her phenomenal writing style. This book kept my attention and allowed me to escape into a great read. Andrews captured the dialogue of her characters precisely and each and every character came alive as you read. The main character was so believable as were the supporting characters. Her plot was so believable with real life and I identified with the main character's trials and tribulations. Please read this book and be prepared not to be able to put it down for long. It is that spellbinding. I am anxiously awaiting her next book. Enjoy and be sure to have some southern iced tea, some chicken salad and chocolate in any form and enjoy.
phyllis2779 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
Squeex on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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 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.....
tututhefirst on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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
mjmbecky on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've read several other books by Andrews and been entertained by creative story lines developed with southern charm. Honestly though, I didn't find this newest book about Dempsey and her move to flip a house while she hid away from her life to be believable on way too many levels. I had a hard time believing that someone unfamiliar with home repair could manage to turn around an old mansion? Besides that, my guess is that the old lady that was the "squatter" in the story was supposed to win her way into your heart. Sadly, I thought she was way too grouchy, too deceitful (hiding good from the home in her room), and too over the top. It was easy to see where that story was headed, but I just couldn't like her, and never did. Why the heck didn't she just kick the old lady out?!? The romance felt cliche, and her efforts to recover her good name from the scandal, all just seemed overplayed.Although I've liked some of Andrew's other novels, The Fixer Upper just wasn't one of those reads. The story is fairly simple, the characters over the top in some cases, and the situations unbelievable. Other reviewers have liked the light escapist fun, which I enjoy from time to time as well, but this one didn't fit that for me.
22soccermom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not one of Mary Kay Andrews' better books or at least not one of my favorites. Discraced DC lawyer moves to a small Georgia town with the intent of renovating her family homeplace. Falls in love with her lawyer while being investigated by the FBI. The DC lawyer develops some pretty amazing do-it-yourself skills for someone with zero experience! On the positive side, I loved the name of the local small town lawyer - T. Carter Berryhill. Now that is the perfect name for a small town Southern lawyer!
ImBookingIt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I liked Dempsey, the main character. She'd fallen into a bad situation due to her cluelessness, as opposed to the corruption she's being accused of. She was a smart woman without the best judgement. As the book goes on, I discovered more about her character, good and bad.The book explores many kinds of family: a flaky mom; a dad that she really wants to imress, and who has a very different relationship with his new family than he ever had with her; an unknown uncle who left his house to some of the only family he had left, even though they were virtually unknown to each other; a remote cousin that resents her presence in town and her existence in general. Some of these relationships grow and change, others don't over the course of the book.The ending is a bit too happy, but that's probably to be expected, given the genre.
little_prof on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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
EvilynJ on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When Washington lobbyist Dempsey Jo Killebrew's boss is caught in a scandal, he blames everything on her. Out of a job and unable to pay her rent, Dempsey takes her father up on an offer to fix up the family mansion in the small town of Guthrie, Georgia. Not as funny as some of her other books but a good, solid romance. Recommended.
BookfanMary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
szferris on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
really enjoyed.....would make a cute lifetime film...
ethel55 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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
iwriteinbooks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book and didn’t want it to end. I loved the main characters and the theme.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved the Barbie Dream House make over scene.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another great read by Mary Kay Andrews Well writen characters and villan