About the Book

cover art by Austin GrayAnn Walling grew up in Nashville, Tennessee, in the 1940s and 1950s in a family with deep roots in Mississippi and a history tightly bound to the Old South. To a small girl’s sensibility, her family’s lavish Sunday dinners were a liturgy that reinforced strict Southern mores she was taught never to question. But lurking behind the fine china were troubling contradictions, racial injustice, and tightly guarded family secrets. 

Told with clear-eyed empathy, Sunday Dinner is the remarkable story of a young woman’s moral awakening amidst a society’s painful reckoning with the past, and of the things we choose to embrace and leave behind about the places we come from and the people who define us.

“A beautifully told account that resonates with the challenges we face today.”

—Morris Dees, founder, Southern Poverty Law Center

“Ann Walling recounts the story of her childhood with courage and honesty.” 

—John M. Seigenthaler, Al Jazeera America news anchor

With a prophet’s passion and a pastor’s heart, Ann Walling has opened the minds and hearts of people.

—The Rt. Rev. William E. Sanders, retired Episcopal Bishop of Tennessee

“Reverend Ann Walling lifts the veil of a closed society and shares the powerful story of her self-transformation.”

—Hedy Weinberg, Executive Director of ACLU Tennessee


Buy Sunday Dinner at Amazon.com.


Family photo, 1910

Family photo, 1910

6 thoughts on “About the Book

  1. As a peer of hers,although I’m a TAR HEEL, I’ve “…been there and done that” and plan to be one of the first to read this book.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I was very moved by this book. Written with straight-forward elegance, this is the story of an old Southern family at the top of the heap as seen through the eyes of a dutiful daughter. She later came to realize the damage of racism and the unjust domination of the white Southern male, and the damage to the soul caused by excess secrecy. This is a good quick read—a “must read” for every white Southerner that find solace in the Southern traditions.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Wow! I’m the author’s brother, the possibly “tortured person” mentioned in the book. Sister Ann has really nailed the medium sized town in Mississippi where we spent a significant part of our childhood (plus some good stuff on Nashville, too). My own odyssey took me into the civil rights movement a few years after Ann’s book concludes; there I met another white boy from Tupelo (that medium size town) who was deep into the civil rights and other movements of the time (it’s myth that most of the white people in the movements in the South came from the North).
    But the point is, Ann’s book gets really close and personal to growing up in that milieu.

    The book’s great strength is its careful, indeed loving but unsentimental, treatment of the family’s black servants, a couple of whom, quite long lived, were born as slaves. It’s a good, and well stated, perspective; it contributes to our understanding of the everyday lives of the victims of slavery and segregation in the interregnum between Reconstruction and civil rights.

    A contemporary from a medium size town in Alabama praises the book as a near-perfect reflection of his own experience growing up.

    – Reber Boult

    Liked by 1 person

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