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Fair and Tender Ladies | [Lee Smith]

Fair and Tender Ladies

Author of many novels and short stories, best-selling writer Lee Smith has received numerous awards for her works, including two O. Henry Awards. Fair and Tender Ladies is an epistolary novel that traces the life of Ivy Rowe, born in the isolated Virginia mountain community of Sugar Fork.
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Publisher's Summary

Author of many novels and short stories, best-selling writer Lee Smith has received numerous awards for her works, including two O. Henry Awards. Fair and Tender Ladies is an epistolary novel that traces the life of Ivy Rowe, born in the isolated Virginia mountain community of Sugar Fork.

Twelve-year-old Ivy writes her first letter to a Dutch pen pal, who never replies. She also writes many more to her sister Sylvaney, who is mentally disabled and illiterate. Gaining more from writing than receiving any replies, Ivy continues a colorful stream of letters during her long life. Through births and deaths, marriages and funerals, the decades of Ivy's life are captured in a rich dialect that carries the sounds and sights of the Appalachians in each syllable.

Lee Smith's genius lies in her ability to create the landscape of a character's mind with economy and grace. Perfectly complementing Smith's talent, narrator Kate Forbes provides a unique voice for Ivy.

©1988 Lee Smith; (P)2004 Recorded Books, LLC

What the Critics Say

"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 has produced her best work here, creating a fully rounded heroine and other vivid characters who inhabit Virginia's Appalachia region....In the old tradition of oral storytelling, Smith has fashioned a dramatic, magical, poignantly true-to-life tale." (Publishers Weekly)
"Ivy writes with a verve and immediacy which prove that her creator, Lee Smith, is a storyteller supreme." (School Library Journal)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (206 )
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4.1 (93 )
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4.3 (94 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Sharron Robinvale, Australia 02-14-13
    Sharron Robinvale, Australia 02-14-13 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Entertaining"

    Ivy is an inspiration to all women. Her letters describe growing up poor in an isolated rural area without feeling sorry for herself. Just the opposite! Her observations of the countryside and people around her are delightful.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carolyn Friendsville, PA, United States 07-07-12
    Carolyn Friendsville, PA, United States 07-07-12 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "Beautiful yes, tough as an old shoe"

    Tough, had to be. You were strong or you died either in soul or body. The beauty of so many of these mountain people was inside and out. I feel this to be a complete picture of the women and men of the Appalachins lost in the photographs that often make them appear to be worn out and down. The book is a jewel and I hated to have it end. Ivy Rowe had the intelligence and spunk needed to make her life worth while. Lee Smith,
    Kate Forbes, you made Ivy live for me. In so many ways I was reminded of a favorite Nova Scotia heroine of my youth. If you liked Anne of Green Gables, I believe you will also fall in love with Ivy of Virginia.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    "unknown" Chalk Hill, PA, United States 09-27-11
    "unknown" Chalk Hill, PA, United States 09-27-11 Listener Since 2009
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    "Completely entertaining"

    What an enjoyable story about a woman in Appalachia, full of adventure and pluck and strength. Kate Forbes was wonderful as the voice of Ivy in her letters.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Janice Glendale, CA, United States 09-21-11
    Janice Glendale, CA, United States 09-21-11
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    "These are people you'll enjoy knowing"

    I loved this book, a fictional account of a woman's life in rural Virginia. The performer narrating the book did such a wonderful job -- she brought Ivy Rowe to life and I loved how her voice changed as the years passed and the character grew older. Very nuanced. I also really enjoyed that the entire book was told in letter form and I think that format is served especially well by being narrated.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    E Fitzgerald Marysville, CA, United States 09-13-11
    E Fitzgerald Marysville, CA, United States 09-13-11 Member Since 2010
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    "Fabulous Book"

    I absolutely was absorbed into the letters and didn't want this to end. Excellent narrator, I highly recommend this book!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ruth Lambert New Haven, Connecticut 09-07-11
    Ruth Lambert New Haven, Connecticut 09-07-11 Member Since 2007
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    "Outstanding piece of nostalgia for a by-gone time"

    This beautifully written, gorgeously read book is set in the early 1900s in the Appalachian mountains of Virginia. It is a one-sided narrative, the letters of the main character Ivy, who is a precocious 12 year old when the book begins, and an elderly lady in her 80s as it ends. What a treat this book was! Like many other readers, I was sorry to bid Ivy goodbye, and grateful for being able to spend so many happy hours in her company.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sally H. 07-18-11
    Sally H. 07-18-11 Member Since 2009
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    "Unforgetable!"

    This was not my first Lee Smith novel, but by far my most favorite. Ms. Forbes is a tremendously talented narrator who not only makes Ivy Rowe come alive, but also become a cherished friend. This is a book you won't want to end, but in the end, will be embedded in your memory forever.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mildred Cedarville, CA, USA 06-20-09
    Mildred Cedarville, CA, USA 06-20-09 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wonderful sweeping story"

    Great characters and an interesting story in this life of this extraordinary woman. Enjoyed the reader.. the accent was charming. My first Lee Smith book.. and I'll look for others. She's got the Southern thang just right.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    06-15-09
    06-15-09
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    "slow start, great finish"

    I had a little difficult maintaining my interest in the beginning, but about a 3rd of the way in I was hooked! The descriptions were so vivid, I felt like I was there with Ivy, that I knew her. By the end, I really cared about her.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robyn Beaumont Hills, Australia 09-09-13
    Robyn Beaumont Hills, Australia 09-09-13 Member Since 2012
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    "A great story told in letters"
    Would you listen to Fair and Tender Ladies again? Why?

    I would listen to this story many times, Kate Forbes narration is excellent and once I got over the form the story is told in I absolutely loved the book. Such an honest book which tells of a hard life lead by the main character, however she is not one to be pitied. I was disappointed when the story ended. This is one that must be read and re-read.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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