Fair and Tender Ladies

  • by Lee Smith
  • Narrated by Kate Forbes
  • 13 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

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.


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)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Fair and Tender Ladies

I was unfamiliar with the works of Lee Smith until I listened to this audiobook. My family roots are in Appalachia, and I was immediately transported back to my childhood. The speech patterns and idioms brought my grandmother vivdly to mind. I have since read the book, and I don't think I would have done so if I hadn't first listened to it. The narrator does a superb job; anyone interested in the history of Appalachia would love this reading.
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- Deanna


I love mystery books and would not usually choose a fiction book. I am so glad that I chose this one.
I do not care how worldly we women get. You scratch the surface and there is an Ivy there.
A very well written and well read book.
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- Vivian

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-03-2004
  • Publisher: Recorded Books