Rheta Grimsley Johnson

Even as a child in Montgomery, this future reporter was already a skeptic. At an early age she had doubts about Santa Claus, even though she wanted a Barbie doll in the worst way, and before long these doubts spread to most conventional metaphysics, although as a citizen of the South, she has tended to keep her "doubts" to herself.

For years, Johnson, who was raised in Montgomery and studied journalism at Auburn, wrote four columns a week for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Unhappy with Atlanta traffic and that grueling pace, Johnson left the AJC in 2001. This has given her more time to write in a thoughtful, more leisurely way, and the result is Poor Man's Provence.