Fair and Tender Ladies

Fair and Tender Ladies

4.2 15
by Lee Smith
     
 

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"This is about a moving a work of literature as has ever been written." ANNIE DILLARD
The story of Ivy Rowe, spanning almost a century in the Virginia backwoods, is told completely through the letters that Ivy never stops writing over the course of her long and varied life. A remarkable portrait of a time, a place, and a person.
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Overview

"This is about a moving a work of literature as has ever been written." ANNIE DILLARD
The story of Ivy Rowe, spanning almost a century in the Virginia backwoods, is told completely through the letters that Ivy never stops writing over the course of her long and varied life. A remarkable portrait of a time, a place, and a person.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Readers will be thoroughly captivated by Ivy Rowe, the narrator of this epistolary novel, and will come to the end of her story with a pang of regret. Smith ( Oral History , Family Linen ) has produced her best work here, creating a fully rounded heroine and other vivid characters who inhabit Virginia's Appalachia region. The letters begin around the turn of the century when Ivy is a child living with eight siblings on the family farm on Blue Star Mountain. Written with quaint misspellings and in the vernacular of Southern speech, the missives reflect the harsh poverty of farm life, as well as the simple beauties of the land: ``This is the taste of spring,'' her father tells Ivy, and she never forgets it, even when the family must move to the boom town of Majestic after her father's death. Ivy's talent as a budding writer is recognized early on, but just as she is about to realize her dream of going North to school, she is betrayed by her passionate nature. Though pregnant and ``ruint,'' she marries a childhood friend who takes her back to the family homestead, where she bears several children and endures the endless toil of a farmer's wife. Just when life seems drearily predictable, she succumbs in middle age to an irresistible passion that brings tragic consequences. Ivy is a woman of bewitching appeal and endearing faults: bright, with a poet's eye and soul; spunky, impetuous, sensual and proud. Following her heroine over seven decades, Smith conveys the changing conditions of life in Appalachia, during which time, as Ivy laments, ``everybody has took everything out of herefirst the trees, then the coal, then the children.'' In the old tradition of oral storytelling, Smith has fashioned a dramatic, magical, poignantly true-to-life tale. Literary Guild selection. (September)
Library Journal
This haunting epistolary novel captures the heartbreaking beauty of Appalachia through the voice of an engaging narrator: feisty Ivy Rowe, a born storyteller growing up on a pre-World War I farm. Poverty and early motherhood destroy her dream of writing professionally, but write she does, scores of letters from girlhood until death. In her descriptions of ``Whitebear Whittington,'' tempestuous Depression-era coal camps, proud ``holler'' communities, and most of all the colorful Rowe clan of Sugar Fork, Virginia, Ivy brings her beloved home country and its lore to dramatic life. Her sassy, clearheaded reports blend unforgettably with her almost mystical passions as she pieces together the vivid quilt of her life. Smith's best work yet; highly recommended. Starr E. Smith, Georgetown Univ. Lib., Washington, D.C.
School Library Journal
YA-- Ivy Rowe, Virginia mountain girl, then mother, wife, and finally, ``Mamaw,'' writes letters ``to hold on to what is passing.'' Her story tumbles out in words that are colloquial and sometimes misspelled as she pens letters to her family and friends throughout her long life. Although her attendance at school is sparse, the teachers encourage her, believing that she is exceptionally gifted in language. As a teenager, she thinks that she does not want to have children ``as they will brake your hart.'' But have them she does, a process which makes her ``bones screech,'' but she comes to see that ``children swell up your heart.'' She learns the difference between lust, ``a fiery hand in the vitals'' (as in Jane Eyre, a book to which she often refers), and love, which she finds with her husband Oakley. Readers will savor many passages of this novel. On the electrification of Bethel Mountain (``a lovely lady's necklace laid out''), or the invention of birth control pills (``the greatest thing since drip dry''), and many other matters, Ivy writes with a verve and immediacy which prove that her creator, Lee Smith, is a storyteller supreme.-- Keddy Outlaw, Harris County Public Library, Houston

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781402556777
Publisher:
Recorded Books, LLC
Publication date:
06/29/2004

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