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Shelby Hearon has been widely praised for the insight, wit, and subtlety with which her novels limn the complexities of marriage and family ("What Jane Austen is to courtship, Shelby Hearon is to marriage" --New York Newsday), and the ways in which place can profoundly affect us all. Now, with Ella in Bloom, Hearon gives us her sharpest, funniest, most telling novel yet.It is the story of Ella, who has always lived in the shadow of her "perfect" older sister. A gutsy single parent eking out a living for herself and her intrepid teenage daughter Birdie, Ella invents a genteel life, writing to her mother in drought-baked Texas about her heirloom roses, her linen dresses, and other amenities of a respectable life in Old Metairie, Louisiana. Little does her mother know about the run-down, scruffy house Ella really lives in, or that she makes ends meet by watering rich people's houseplants when they flee the coastal summer heat.But when Ella's beautiful sister Terrell, on the way to meet her lover, is suddenly killed in a chartered plane crash, old family patterns are shattered. And Ella, confronting the reality of her life (and of the man she had relegated to the past) comes, finally and fully, into bloom.Wise, wicked, and moving, in Shelby Hearon's hands this portrait of a woman--a woman we all know--is guaranteed to give extraordinary pleasure.From the Hardcover edition.
Shelby Hearon's 14th novel opens at a reception for the loved ones of deceased heart donors where, for the first time, Nan and Douglas Mayhall come face to face with the aging preacher who is the recipient of their twenty-two-year-old daughter's heart. Their very different reactions to this disturbing encounter sets them off on separate paths. Something is eroding under the surface of their marriage. Hoping for some peace of mind, Nan goes to Sanibel Island to step back and reassess her life. But it takes another real scare to allow her to slip out of her own footprints for a moment, to see that a world exists outside her pain.
After years of a dutiful marriage to the Calvanistic pastor of Waco's Presbyterian church, Cile meets her high school sweetheart and decides to shed the tight skin of a preacher's wife. Surprises loom, however, as the Texas town reacts quite differently than she expected it would.
In Her Most Searching and most accomplished novel to date, the author of Owning Jolene and Hug Dancing explores friendship and loss -- and what binds two women together and what separates them. Sarah and Harriet, now in their mid-fifties, have been friends since boarding school. Their lives -- Sarah in the Blue Ridge mountains of South Carolina and Harriet in the piney woods of East Texas -- have run parallel courses: marriage, babies, even opting for separate bedrooms from their husbands at about the same time.Or are their paths really so similar? Now they find themselves, within the same year, widowed -- and deep-rooted differences surface. For Sarah, marriage was a destructive snare; she finds freedom in nature, reward in a wallpaper business she has created (so women can make rooms of their own), and sexual satisfaction with a man in his late sixties who understands her needs. Harriet is lost, no longer employed as a wife; to protect herself she gets a gun; to bolster herself, a young man's attention.A life-and-death crisis brings the two women together. In the course of their visit the disharmonies they have never before acknowledged are revealed and their friendship is profoundly changed.Telling Sarah and Harriet's story, Shelby Hearon has given us a witty, disturbing, and moving novel about the way we see -- and fail to see -- our friends and ourselves.From the Hardcover edition.
Skipping from the present and life as an artist's model to her past as a pawn between her mother and father, this is Jolene's story of changing identity. Always in disguise, as are most of the other characters in this novel set in post-boom San Antonio, Jolene finally comes to terms with herself as a famous replica of another famous model. Disguises, swindles, jokes, flashbacks, and other devices give this novel a decidedly jumpy style. The comedy is slight, the characters slick caricatures, and the plot one long series of escapades. Hearon's dialogue is good, and she captures poseurs to the life, but the overall result is minimal, if briefly entertaining. For fans of the author (A Small Town, Five Hundred Scorpions) and readers who like the Texas style: fast, furious, spicy, but not very deep. Ann Donovan, Central Washington Univ. Lib., Ellensburg Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.
This is a novel so rich and wise that--like Gail Godwin's A Mother and Two Daughters --it involves us completely in its world. A Small Town begins in the childhood of Alma van der Linden, a doctor's daughter in Venice, Missouri, and a keen observer both of her neighbors and of the feud that has sent her family literally to opposite ends of town. As Alma grows up, marries, and has children, her life and the life of the town pass before us in an ever-changing, always-the-same diorama. Among the citizens of Venice there are August, Alma's grandfather, whose dusty house guards the family's secrets; Alma's frightened, alcoholic mother, Neva; Louis le Croix, the high school principal, who leaves his wife for Alma; and a host of others as comical, rare, and mysterious as real people. When her last novel, Group Therapy, was published in 1984, the Los Angeles Times wrote, "Shelby Hearon has delighted a small but loyal fan club with remarkable work during the past few years' and predicted, "her popularity will expand to match her talent?" Now, with A Small Town, she has wonderfully fulfilled that prediction.
When her husband dumps her for an old girlfriend and sets all of Peachland, South Carolina, gossiping, Janey Daniels has to get away--far away--for a "sabbatical" year. She flees to Burlington, Vermont, home of Aunt May, her mother's only living relative. There she adopts Beulah, a Labrador puppy in training to become a companion dog for the blind. Not for a moment does Janey suspect that this "year of the dog" will change her life forever.
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