We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access .
 >   > 
Fair and Tender Ladies Audiobook

Fair and Tender Ladies

Regular Price:$31.47
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

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

4.3 (295 )
5 star
 (168)
4 star
 (73)
3 star
 (35)
2 star
 (14)
1 star
 (5)
Overall
4.3 (170 )
5 star
 (98)
4 star
 (44)
3 star
 (17)
2 star
 (8)
1 star
 (3)
Story
4.5 (170 )
5 star
 (117)
4 star
 (27)
3 star
 (17)
2 star
 (6)
1 star
 (3)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Susan 04-14-17
    Susan 04-14-17 Member Since 2013

    A hopeless book lover

    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    31
    31
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    22
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "What a Beautiful Story. How I love Ivy!"
    Would you listen to Fair and Tender Ladies again? Why?

    I'm sure I will. I already miss Ivy Rowe.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Fair and Tender Ladies?

    When I started this book I thought it may be a snoozer but it became addicting. Ivy's hillbilly language was getting on my nerves but as the story unfolded I got used to it, She also read a lot which improved her speech. This may not bother anyone else and it's essential to the story. The family is in a poor, rural area about the turn of the 20th century. Anyway, I fell in love with this woman. She is at once simple and intelligent, optimistic yet realistic, and so very loving and loyal.


    What does Kate Forbes bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Kate Forbes was absolutely perfect for Ivy. Her accent and inflections are spot on. I feel a lot of the impact of her words would be lost in print. That's another reason I love listening to books. And good narration is critical to a successful production.


    If you could rename Fair and Tender Ladies, what would you call it?

    Fair and Tender Lady :)


    Any additional comments?

    Ivy's religion is the country and all things beautiful to her. I loved this element of the story. She is so pure of heart, but not a goody-goody. I adored this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    KM 12-07-16
    KM 12-07-16
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    25
    5
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "What a beautiful book"

    The writing, the narration, the characters...I didn't want it to end. The best book I've read in a long, long time.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    kirsten 11-17-16
    kirsten 11-17-16 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    5
    4
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Holy Shi*"

    This was unbelievable. So so amazing. The narrator actually aged her voice as the years passed in the book. Smith does the most incredible job of allowing her character to grow and expand, exploring a full and intense life span. I don't usually gush but this was profoundly enjoyable and deep.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kelly Colorado Springs 10-25-16
    Kelly Colorado Springs 10-25-16 Member Since 2016

    Reading allows me to travel through time; to visit the world's unique and stunning places. To become somebody I am not... It is glorious.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    347
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    379
    376
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    13
    10
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "I fell in love with Ivy Rowe! TY Smith + Forbes!"

    This is a GEM of a book which I am so grateful to have listened to rather than read on pages of paper, because Kate Forbes so beautifully narrated the accents and phrases popular in Appalachia. I know very little about the region, but when my nephew married a girl from West Virginia this summer I was the guest at the sweetest and most fun wedding I have ever attended. It was filled with music, humor and fun. I fell in love with his new family and I think I have decided that part of their loveliness comes from their home state. All of this led me to pick up a book that I probably would have never bought otherwise and I am so glad that it did. I am hoping that some of them will listen so that they can share with me their thoughts.

    The story of Ivy Rowe is told through her letters to friends and family over the course of her life from the late 1800s until the mid 1900s. We meet the people she loves and we see the places she knows. It is a story that unfolds quietly and lyrically. It encompasses many, many characters -- all people that Ivy loves -- and not once did I ever confuse one character with another. Both world wars and the Great Depression are part of the history visited in the story. The mining industry plays a part too. And still, the story isn't about any of that. It is about LOVE -- and Ivy is a fierce, strong, stubborn, uneducated, funny, loyal girl/woman who enchanted me with her zest for life and taciturn acceptance of the difficult moments.

    The story is about love. Ivy loves well. And I love Ivy.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patti 03-14-16
    Patti 03-14-16
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    192
    8
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "My favorite southern writer "

    Lee Smith never disappoints. She crafts such believable characters. This is a winner start to finish. Highly recommended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    LoveToRead 07-17-15
    LoveToRead 07-17-15
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Bittersweet"

    I really enjoyed listening to this story since I am of an age to appreciate all the stages of life described in this book, The author does a wonderful job of describing the bitter and sweet found in the main character's life and that is found in all our lives. The story is just plain beautiful!
    The narrator does a superb job with her dialect and her adherence to the flavor of the story. I got both the written and audio versions and found the audio version more engaging and easier to follow than the written because, I believe, how the words sounded was very important in this story. I did not want the story to end!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robyn 09-09-13
    Robyn 09-09-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    20
    15
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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
  •  
    N. Rogers San Antonio, TX, USA 08-28-13
    N. Rogers San Antonio, TX, USA 08-28-13 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    156
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    246
    55
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    6
    3
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A Glimpse Into a Unique Time and Place"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennifer Morrison, CO, United States 06-28-13
    Jennifer Morrison, CO, United States 06-28-13 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    61
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    85
    25
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great for a road trip"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elizabeth Montezuma, NM, United States 04-29-13
    Elizabeth Montezuma, NM, United States 04-29-13 Member Since 2016
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    172
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Remarkable reader, great book"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank you.

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.