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Oprah Book Club® Selection, October 1997: Gibbons's novel, A Virtuous Woman, takes place in the same hardscrabble part of the world as Ellen Foster. The virtuous woman is Ruby Pitt Woodrow, a woman who might have ended up like Ellen Foster's mother if fate, in the shape of Jack Stokes, hadn't crossed her path. The daughter of prosperous farmers, Ruby runs off with a migrant worker who treats her badly, then abandons her far from home. When she meets Jack, a man 20 years her senior, she's working as a cleaning woman in another prosperous farmer's house. Jack is a man women don't look at even once, let alone twice; Ruby is a woman who needs someone to take care of her. Out of this unlikely union grows a quiet kind of love that is no less powerful for being unstated.
Ellen Foster and A Virtuous Woman share more than just location and a few characters in common. Though each is a complete novel in and of itself, taken together the two books resonate one another: Ellen Foster and Ruby Pitt Woodrow are both damaged people who find the kind of love they need to heal. These multilayered novels are tough-minded and resolutely unsentimental, just like their protagonists. Yet like Ellen and Ruby, each contains a nut of sweetness at its core that takes the bitter edge off the hard lives and hard stories Kaye Gibbons has to tell.
Jack Stokes and Ruby Pitt weave this strong, tightly knit love story in alternating chapters that begin when Jack, grieving over Ruby's death four months earlier, evokes the past. In flashbacks, the two richly cadenced Southern voices explore their vastly differing backgrounds, troubled histories and their unlikely but loving marriage. Born into a proud, prominent country family, coddled and adored, Ruby stuns her parents and two brothers by inexplicably running off with John Woodrow, a migrant worker who savagely abuses her. When John is killed in a brawl, Ruby, too proud to ask her family for help, begins doing housework for the wealthy Hoover family, where she meets Jack, a laconic, immensely capable tenant farmer on the Hoover land. He is 40; she is 20. Both lonely and vulnerable, they regard each other cautiously, carry on a wary courtship and embark on a firmly grounded marriage. The union is enriched by a small, supportive circle of friends, who, like the couple's landlord, Burr, are sharply etched and convincingly drawn. Gibbons, author of the critically praised Ellen Foster , has written a vivid, unsentimental, powerful novel. Literary Guild and Double day Book Club alternates.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
This a brief story of the struggles and love between people growing up together under conditions of severe poverty - as they try to maintain their sense of dignity and independence... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Carol J. Berkus
Beautiful story of an unlikely relationship, a forty-year-old migrant worker and the twenty-year-old daughter of a landowner, already once widowed. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Karen D
I enjoyed the book but thought it could of had a better ending.Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
The ending came up short for me but the book as a whole was very thoughtful. It brought to mind my own troubled relationships and why I choose the men I did. Provocative! Read morePublished 5 months ago by Bettina
Just goes to show that every jewel has worth. And, that sometimes a ruby carries more weight than any diamond.Published 5 months ago by Voracious
Our book club found many interesting events to talk about.Published 7 months ago by Grace B. Morrison
Strangest book I ever read. There was no real story line. I didn't care for the format in which it was written. Read morePublished 7 months ago by K. L. R.