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Family Linen Paperback – August 27, 1996


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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

"Brilliant, haunting, dark, joyous, remarkably compelling...immensely difficult to put down...a master storyteller."

THE VILLAGE VOICE

A childhood memory re-experienced, a funeral that brings about a family reunion, and the excavation of a swimming pool on the site of an old well, uncover family secrets and air the dirty linen in this behind-the-scenes look at life and family, memory and forgetfulness, anger and forgiveness in a small Southern town.

"Falls in line with the best of classical Southern fiction...but Ms. Smith's vision is her own and places her among the best of contemporary Southern writers."

THE ATLANTA CONSTITUTION


From the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (August 27, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345410602
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345410603
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #482,983 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Customer Reviews

You can't go wrong!!!!!
Pamela A. Poddany
Anything by Lee Smith is worth reading; she is one of the best writers of the Southern genre.
Roy E. Perry
Her storytelling and character development talents are wonderful.
Beth Hoffman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 31, 1999
Format: Paperback
I enjoyed Family Linen. Though I love southern literature, I generally don't read books about southern "belles" but this one was a hoot! Frankly, I wanted more from the original, straight-laced sister who went to a hypnotist beause she was having headaches. I mean, that whole scenario, with her condo, single life, the "secret" lurking in her prim head - that was the most compelling aspect of the book. Still, it was very dear and amusing. I recommend it to friends.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By "southerndrawler" on May 21, 2001
Format: Paperback
I've read this book several times. Each time I get something new out of it. This testifies to the greatness of Lee Smith's skills as a writer.
During the course of the mystery explored in this book (Who killed Daddy?), we are introduced to numerous family members all of whom have distinctive personalities. As well as there being individual personalities drawn out, Lee Smith creates generational differences between characters whose personality makeups never fall into the trap of cliche. This alone would make Family Linen a book well worth reading. But, Ms. Smith gives us a story whose plot increases as each character is presented and gives his or her piece of the puzzle.
Soon, you will be so caught up in the different characters' lives, you will not be so intent on finding out if Daddy was killed and by whom. Instead, you will feel like you are embracing new friends in your life as provided by Lee Smith's extraordinary writing.
The book is funny, touching, at times gothic in nature, and one of the best written novels I've ever read. Lee Smith is a genious of a writer! Read this book. You won't regret it!!
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Barbara on February 4, 2001
Format: Paperback
I truely enjoyed this book and I don't know why some of the reviewsers were offended. This is the second review I wrote, I don't know what happened to the first one. There are family secrets that come out because of hypnotism and the family being brought together by illness and a funeral. Really this story is about some very serious matters but Lee Smith wrote from a lighthearted angle which makes th reader laugh at a lot of the situations. I wouldn't call this book "dark" at all even though it could've very easily been written that way. I liked this book a lot and to think I almost didn't read it because of some of descriptions in some of the negative reviews. Read this book, it's very good. It's about real life and sometimes real life isn't very pretty. There are many people that are raised by their parents and then find out in their adult life that these wonderful people that raised them aren't actually their parents. Their "sister" or "Aunt So-and-so" is their real mother. This is really a good book and it's written from the perfect perspective, with a touch of humor.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Margie Read VINE VOICE on October 22, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Nobody is better than Lee Smith when it comes to creating marvelous characters and Family Linen is filled with them. No cardboard creatures these, but full bodied human beings most of whom are somewhere in our own lives. My only quarrel with Smith is that she sometimes gets so deeply involved with these characters, she forgets to tell us where they are going. Family Linen does have more of a plot and a mystery that will keep the reader turning the pages until it is solved. And even when we know, the characters are still the strongest force in the book.Read it and see which one of your neighbors or relatives are right there to be discovered.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By M. G Jackson on September 26, 2004
Format: Paperback
Enjoyable treat! My first Lee Smith read, I was very surprised at how rich and satisfying it was, surprised mainly because of the well-meaning but missed-the-point critic blurbs on the cover which prepared me for breezy back-porch southern blarney, an enjoyable genre but not at all accurate for "Family Linen". This is tangled Barbara Vine territory, dark family secrets and a mystery that become inscrutable no more, only told in the direct and empathetic voice of an Anne Tyler. With family disfunction that could easily have been rendered as southern-gothic, Smith's story is told with clear-eyed respect for character and for plot development.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Pamela A. Poddany VINE VOICE on February 5, 2007
Format: Paperback
This book revolves around a Southern family that has their share of secrets. This book is not only a WHO-DUN-IT? but also very, very funny. The characters are all related somehow and are all very comical. The writing flows and you will immediately be caught up in the great story and plot.

We first meet Sybill, one of the family, who finally seeks help from a hypnotist for her dreadful recurring headaches. The hypnotist puts her under and BAM! Sybill flashes back to her childhood and remembers witnessing a horrible, awful, dreadful murder that involves her sweet, kind, proper, mother, Miss Elizabeth.

Sybill returns at once to her hometown of Booker Creek for answers. Unfotunatley, Miss Elizabeth is unconscious in the hospital and cannot answer any of her questions. But the story does not end there!!!!

Now we meet all of Sybill's family -- her sister Myrtle who has it all -- money, THE house, a doctor hubby, looks great, is the perfect hostess, has the perfect life or does she? Myrtle's husband, Dr. Don, who runs the entire show and loves his wife's family, perhaps a little too much -- and a cast of other brothers/sisters/nieces/nephews/cousins -- they are all unique and wonderful and FUN.

This is a book that I highly recommend. Lee Smith has the absolute best writing ability to weave, weave, weave, the story, the characters, the plot, and all the FUN into a great big satisfying book that is full of insights into life, laughs, and surprises.

Read this book. You won't be disappointed. Ms. Smith is one of THE BEST AUTHORS around these days! You can't go wrong!!!!!

Thanks -- Pam
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