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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

Critic Reviews

"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

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  • william
  • clarksville, IN, United States
  • 10-09-12

original.addicting.entertaining

If you could sum up Fair and Tender Ladies in three words, what would they be?

original format kate forbes makes it great

Who was your favorite character and why?

ivy, of course.

Which scene was your favorite?

the return after her infidelity.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

letters to mine.

Any additional comments?

i can and will listen to kate forbes whenever possible.she is so gifted as a narrator.

  • Overall

I wish I could visit.

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.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Get Ready for a Real Slog

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.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful