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Authors: Lee Smith

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Fair and Tender Ladies

BOOK: Fair and Tender Ladies
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Table of Contents
Praise for
Fair and Tender Ladies
“A tour de force.”
Los Angeles Times
“Reading Lee Smith's work is like coming home again, to find everything just as you remembered: worn quilts on the brass bed, cat dozing in the most comfortable chair by the fire, peach cobbler in the oven. And Ivy Rowe, the heroine of
Fair and Tender Ladies
, is just the sort of friend we want to find waiting for us.”
The Washington Post
“Because of Ivy's narrative ability and her zest for living,
Fair and Tender Ladies
opens for us like a flower with a gloriously unexpected center. There are unforgettable characters. . . . Few readers will be dry-eyed as they watch this extraordinary woman disappear around that last bend in the road.”
Chicago Tribune
“In this book, Smith reins in her humor to listen to one voice, the joltingly clear sound of Ivy Rowe, whose passion for letter writing yields a poignant chronicle of enduring pride.”
“Lee Smith's fast-moving, tender folk tale about an endearing mountain beauty may be her best book yet; certainly warmhearted, willful Ivy Rowe is her deepest, best-developed character. Woven into her story are many of the fabled things of Smith's native Appalachia—mysterious, seductive strangers, independent, hardworking people whose pride transcends poverty, foolishness for love, and the everlasting pull of the Virginia hills themselves.”
The Virginian-Pilot/Ledger-Star
“There is only one voice covering four generations in a typical backwoods family. But the voice of Ivy Rowe is positive, joyful, and irrepressible even in the face of hardship, disappointment, and family tragedy.”
The Seattle Times
“The story of Ivy Rowe, born near the turn of the century in the Virginia mountain enclave of Sugar Fork, is told completely through letters that Ivy is forever writing family and friends. . . . Lee Smith exhibits her own understanding and affection for the traditions of the Appalachians. She is at home with the down-home speech and ways of her characters. They come vividly to life, and none more so than Ivy, whose voice and heart and humor sustain
Fair and Tender Ladies
The Philadelphia Inquirer
Berkley titles by Lee Smith
Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA
Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)
Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
Penguin Group Ireland, 25 St. Stephen's Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.)
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(a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.)
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(a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)
Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196,
South Africa
Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
Copyright © 1988 by Lee Smith.
The author gratefully acknowledges permission to quote the following: Excerpt from lyrics of “Oh! How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning” by Irving Berlin, at pages 143–144. © Copyright 1918 Irving Berlin. © Copyright renewed 1945 Irving Berlin. © Copyright assigned to Ruth H. (Mrs. Ralph J.) Bunche, Joe DiMaggio, and Theodore R. Jackson as Trustees, God Bless America Fund.
Lyrics from “Heartbreak Hotel” by Mae Boren Axton, Tommy Durden, and Elvis Presley, at pages 328–329. Copyright © 1956 Tree Publishing Co., Inc. Copyright renewed. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission of the publisher.
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author's rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
BERKLEY ® is a registered trademark of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
The “B” design is a trademark of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
eISBN : 978-1-101-51648-5
Smith, Lee, date.
Fair and tender ladies/Lee Smith.
p. cm.
ISBN : 978-1-101-51648-5
I. Title.
PS3569.M5376F28 1988
88-10915 CIP

For Amity
At night she watched the road
and sang. I'd sigh and settle on the
beside her. One song led
to one more song. Some unquiet grave.
A bed of stone. The ship that spun
three times ere it sank,
near ninety verses full of grief.
She sang sad all night long
and smiled, as if she dared me
shed a tear. Sweet Lizzie Creek
swung low
along the rocks, and dried beans
in the wind. Sometimes her black dog
at fox or bear, but she'd not stop,
no, not for God Himself, not even if
he rode
astride a fine white horse and bore the
of Glory in his hands. The dark was all
she had. And sometimes moonlight
on the ceaseless water. “Fill my cup,”
she'd say, and sip May moonshine
till her voice came back as strong as
in the sally grass. You whippoorwills
keep silent, and you lonesome owls
go haunt
another woman's darkest hours. Clear,
clear back I hear her singing me to
“Come down,” she trolls,
“Come down among the willow
shade and weep, you fair
and tender ladies left to lie alone,
the sheets so cold,
the nights so long.”
Fair and Tender Ladies
“Oh Ivy, sing ivory, rosebud and thorn . . .”
Letters from Sugar Fork
My dear Hanneke,
Your name is not much common here, I think it is so pretty too. I say it now and agin it tastes sweet in my mouth like honey or cane or how I picture the fotched-on candy from Mrs. Browns book about France, candy wich mimicks roses. Have you seed any such as this? I have not. I have seed them in her red book that is all. My teacher is called Mrs. Brown. She is from far away also, she has lived in the city of St. Louis oncet with buggies and streetligts, I know all about it now. And I know all how you live too, we have seed the pictures, I cannot feature it all so flat ther with flat water so brigtly blue and never a mountain nor nary a cloud in the sky. You are lower than the sea so that oncet a boy has had to stick his finger in the wall to hold back the water, this is scary to me. I have nare seed the ocean nor has anyone I know seed it althogh Daddy has been to the city too, he did not like it with bad water and no air and no mountains like Bethel Mountain yonder, Daddy says he needs a mountain to rest his eyes aginst. But in the book I have seed those fields of flowers, tulips, we think you have wooden shoes. Momma makes all of our clothes we have storeboghten shoes thogh they are black, they have copper on the toes so as not to wear out very fast. I disgust them and wish for wooden shoes and a lace cap like yourn and such pretty long white stockings, you look like a little Queen.
I know it is not you in the book but I think it is you. I hope you will be my Pen Friend.
My momma had also a white dress with lace as a girl, I have seed the picture. She stands by the door it is a fancy door of a house in a town I know is Rich Valley where she has growed up and ther is her big father smiling holding her hand but now a hardness has come up between them. He has a black suit and a black mustashe and a gold watch chain hanging down in the picture, he is rich, his name is Mister Castle and we do not know him atall. He is smiling but he is mean. My momma Maude was then fifteen, her momma had died of her lungs in the year 1886 so that Maude was the ligt of her daddys life, and the only joy of his hart.
BOOK: Fair and Tender Ladies
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