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A Virtuous Woman

by Kaye Gibbons

Library Journal Alternating chapters narrated by Ruby Stokes (who is dying of cancer at 45) with those told by her husband, Blinking Jack, after her death, Gibbons creates a scrapbook of their quarter century together as tenant farmers. Too old and tough to be endearing like the protagonist of Ellen Foster ( LJ 4/15/87), the Stokeses are no less honest and vivid as they consider the value of a good mate or good soil. Gibbons again flawlessly reproduces the humor and idiom of rural eastern North Carolina in Ruby's proper country dialect and Jack's peculiarly awful grammar. Recommended for public libraries and collections of regional fiction.-- Maurice Taylor, Brunswick Cty. Lib., Southport, N.C. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly 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. (Apr . ) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list Gibbons returns with a new novel in the brief, bittersweet tradition of her earlier Ellen Foster [BKL S 1 87]. In alternating chapters, Ruby and Jack tell of their lives and love for each other. Jack is the victim of an impoverished childhood. Ruby has suffered a disastrous first marriage. She finds happiness with loving, affectionate Jack, though he is 20 years older, fat, and has a twitch. Even their love, though, is no match for life's tragedies: childlessness and Ruby's cancer. Gibbons allows her characters to describe misfortune with excruciating detail and matter-of-factness. The result is another heart-tugging quiet drama. Jack has Ellen Foster's soul--vulnerable, sweet, more knowing than appearance suggests. Ruby has the angelic kindness and domesticity of Ellen's foster mother. A subtle, evocative, and romantic novel. --Deb Robertson

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Library Journal This is a love story, plain and simple. Its the tale of a 40-year-old tenant farmer and a 20-year-old daughter of the gentry, who happen upon each other through fate or by chance. Jack and Ruby alternately tell the story of their marriage, painting a picture of deep and varied color. They speak of the everyday events that shaped their lives, their shared philosophies, and their different approaches to problem-solving. This creates a crystal-clear picture of a deep and abiding marriage of both body and soul. But late in the novel, Ruby dies of lung cancer, and Jack is left alone with his recollections and his grief. Gibbons (Ellen Foster, Audio Reviews, LJ 10/15/98) crafts a moving but unsentimental picture of the perfect couple. Her dialog and description, beautifully narrated by Ruth Ann Phimister and Tom Stechschulte, are stunning in their ability to captivate and connect with the reader. Highly recommended.Joanna M. Burkhardt, Univ. of Rhode Island Coll. of Continuing Education Lib., Providence (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal YA-- In alternating chapters, Ruby and Jack Stokes tell of their adult lives: her elopement and hellish life with an abusive migrant farmer, Ruby and Jack's meeting and subsequently happy marriage, and their relationships with Jack's landlord and friend, Burr; his self-centered wife and son; and June, his lovely daughter, whom the Stokes love dearly. Gibbons develops distinct voices for Ruby and Jack, and their reminiscences paint vibrant portraits of themselves and others. The story will prod readers to think about the nature of friendship and love.-- Alice Conlon, University of Houston (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly In flashbacks, two richly cadenced Southern voices explore vastly different backgrounds, troubled histories and an unlikely but loving marriage. PW found this ``a vivid, unsentimental, powerful novel.'' (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved