Fair and Tender Ladies and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Fair and Tender Ladies Mass Market Paperback – August 13, 1989


See all 26 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Mass Market Paperback
"Please retry"
$4.92 $0.01
Audio CD
"Please retry"
$50.00

NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Hero Quick Promo
Browse in Books with Buzz and explore more details on the current pick, "The Mockingbird Next Door: Life with Harper Lee" by Marja Mills.

Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (August 13, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 034536208X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345362087
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (106 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #602,500 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers 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.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From 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
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

It was a sweet and very touching book and it was extremely well written.
Theresa Mcdonald
This was a very rich and beautiful story told through the letters of Ivy as she adventures, stumbles, loves, fails, laughs and fights her way through life.
G. Ledford
I've heard little bits and sayings, even the strange older names like the ones in this book all of my life and now I know where it all came from.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 39 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 3, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I picked up this title while reading another review on the book "Gap Creek" By Robert Morgan. Which I also enjoyed. Once I read the reviews on this book I couldn't wait to read it. When I began reading Ivy Rowe's letters I could not stop and when I did stop I was still thinking of the things she had written all through the day. I grew so close to her. I laughed and I cried. Her voice & hands will wrap around your heart and stay with you long after you read the last page. This is truly my best read of the year 2000. I borrowed this particular book to read but I plan to buy a personal copy for many more years of pleasure. Thank you Lee Smith for enlightening my life through Ivy Rowe.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Peggy Vincent on April 2, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I'll read anything by Lee Smith, but this is her best. It's a saga, the chronicaling of a child's (as she grows to old age and death) Appalachian life in a cabin 'up a holler.'
Rich with loving detail, philosophy, and the indications of the passing of time not only for the protagonist but also for her community and the country itself, it'll make you laugh and cry and sigh.
Read it, if you haven't already!
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Theresa Mcdonald on April 3, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book was a dream to read. The main character, Ivy Rowe, seems just like an old Auntie or neighbor or someone everyone who grew up Southern would have known. She is a cut up. Her life was not an easy one, but she remained fairly optimistic throughout. It was a sweet and very touching book and it was extremely well written. The way Ms. Smith wrote the dialect was impecable. It was as if someone were telling you a story in your ear rather than reading pages in a book. I was truly transported to all the mountains and towns she writes about in this book. Now I cannot wait to sink my teeth into some of her other works.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By C. L Wilson on November 8, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I felt sad when I had finished this book, for there is much wisdom in it. I resisted it for a long while, finding flaws everywhere, but finally had to succomb. The story is told through the letters of one woman from Appalachia, Ivy Rose. She is perhaps wiser and more in tune with the 90s than a woman born in 1900 in the hills should be, but it is a glowing book, alive with the beauty of the Cumberland mountains in western Virginia. It was never the events she describes in her letters that were important - it was the writing of them. The author may be using this as a metaphor for our lives. It is never what happens that is important, but merely the living of it. For so much repeats itself through the generations. It is a wise, wise, book, engrossing and entertaining. Alive to the last page.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 28, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Deft storytelling, timeless truths about women's lives, and an authentic voice that I can vouch for, having spent time with family in that part of the world. Ivy's story helps me to finally understand a lot about my own late mother, who grew up there and would have been only a few years younger than her. Like Smith, when I went to college and read Faulkner, I wondered what South he was talking about, since what I knew was Appalachian Virginia. Finally, this wonderful writer has captured the essence of that other, fascinating "secret" South, which has little to do with the Civil War and is more than just Hatfields and McCoys. I cannot heap enough praise on this book.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By David J. Gannon on July 18, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Fair and Tender Ladies tells the lifelong story of Ivy Rowe, a woman growing up and growing old in Appalachian Virginia. The story is told totally through a long series of letters she writs to family, friends, lovers and acquaintances.

Ivy's life is one of abject poverty and hardship. Most of her siblings dies young. Her father is disabled through the majority of the book, Her mother is a tormented and exploited soul. Ivy has several chances to escape all this but the pull of place and family keeps her firmly entrenched where she is.

This out to be a thoroughly depressing book--instead it is a truly inspiring book. For, though objectively a person with virtually nothing, Ivy sees herself as uniquely blessed. The life force that carries her into old age is one that sees the glass perpetually as half full--her hardships are, to her eyes, less threatening and frightening than those she sees around her. She is essentially saved several times by people she dos not know or whom she has previously rejected. Though she is often exploited she does not allow those experiences to harden her heart.

This is not to say Ivy is soft or naive. She merely sees hard times as the burden of life and chooses to write her letters to make sense of it all where she can and merely record it if she can't.

I would have thought the letter format would wear after a while. It did not. It in fact created a sense of intimacy that enhanced the reading experience.

All in all, this is one of the best books I read in years. I was thoroughly enchanted throughout. I can only rejoice in the large body of work that lee Smith has for me to work through. If her other efforts are even a fraction as good as this book, I have a lot of great reading ahead of me.
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Reader Girl on May 17, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I read this book for my book club and was not overly excited. I would probably never have chosen it on my own, but willing to try it for my group. The more I read the more I slowed down and savored each page and the more I began dreading the last page. It is an amazing book and I will read it again someday. Do not miss this - this is why we read books!
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Customer Images

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Search

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?