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
"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)
Fair and Tender Ladies was pure pleasure to listen to as an audiobook. The mountain dialect and soft tones performed exquisitely by narrator, Kate Forbes, brought this gentle, captivating story to life, literally transporting me to a world that existed from early 20th century Appalachia through the 1970s. I vicariously experienced some of the immense changes in American society during this time period and was able to glimpse the profound impacts that two major wars and the growth of the coal industry had on these proud mountain people. Their life was hard, but for the first time I began to understand their fierce loyalty to this beautiful but inhospitable land. I watched as their unique culture was disrupted and ultimately destroyed by “progress.”
This is a character-driven novel. It flows lazily through the long life of Ivy Rowe and is written entirely in her letters to various family members and friends. Her tone and language develop as she grows from a very young child into an old “mountain woman.” Yet throughout it all, Ivy retains her deep love of home and family. She never loses that basic core of who she is and what Sugar Fork and its people mean to her. I respected her tremendously, and listening to her story enriched me.
Fair and Tender Ladies is not an adventure story, and it will be a disappointment to readers expecting fast-moving plot. I’m not sure how most men will relate to it since this story is told entirely through Ivy’s unabashed perspective, and she is most definitely a woman; there is no narrator to filter and objectify Ivy’s observations and remarks. But for me that was the charm of this book; Ivy is wonderful if the reader can accept her as she is. She is funny, foolish, courageous, and wise--a delightful combination of them all. I wish she were a real person so I could spend more time listening to her and learning from her. I am extremely happy that I purchased this audiobook and took the time to hear Ivy’s story. I am better for the experience and somehow feel uplifted.
My 19 year old daughter and I listened to this on a 1000 mile get-there-in-a-hurry road trip and loved it. The narrator does a great job and has an authentic accent (I know because I spent about 10 years in the south although I am not a native of that accent.)
On the way home, we had to drive till 1 am to get to a place with an open motel booking and hardly noticed our fatigue because it is such a good story even though told in the form of letters to various people.
I think I might listen to this book again just to hear Kate Forbes read it. She's THAT good. And the characters in this novel will make your heart bleed and then smile and then bleed again. I love epistolary novels, and this is one to savor.
hooked listener cant believe it.Great way to pass time truck driver
original format kate forbes makes it great
ivy, of course.
the return after her infidelity.
letters to mine.
i can and will listen to kate forbes whenever possible.she is so gifted as a narrator.
Listening to "Fair and Tender Ladies" was wonderful. I loved the reader and the tale told. I am not so sure I understand the title.
I can slog through almost any book, especially since I paid for it, but Fair and Tender Ladies was one of the few that I simply couldn't get through. An hour into it and you will still be looking for an interesting story line. Save your money.
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