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And both shall row : a novella and stories
Beth Lordan
Adult Fiction LORDAN

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From Publishers' Weekly:

The six short stories and one novella in this collection show Lordan's (August Heat) skill at weaving a dense tapestry out of the most mundane detail and the darkest secrets hidden from the closest relatives. Precise prose generously laced with subtle wisdom serves to heighten the ominous tone that pervades the stories, as if almost imperceptible earthquakes threaten to upset the precarious balance of her characters' lives. The title novella, a history of two sisters in their 80s who live together in a small Midwestern town, reveals how little they really know about each other. When a stroke leaves the younger sister paralyzed and interrupts a daily routine that has kept painful memories at bay‘both sisters had been married, at different times, to the same man‘the truth of their loneliness and regret emerges with frightening intensity. Faced with breaking habits that held little consolation for them, they both contemplate suicide, and it is this last desperate act that finally establishes a measure of understanding between them. The remaining stories are set in the same locale and feature characters who are similarly locked into a way of life; they are generally baffled by fate but grateful for the small tendernesses and friendships that each day offers. Small, understated epiphanies bring them comfort, and sometimes inspiration, in their struggles over bitterness and disappointment. Lordan is definitely a writer to watch; she eschews flashy effects to build characters whose simple lives take on dignity and meaning. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Storytelling doesn't get much better than this first collection of short works. Lordan, a writing teacher in Illinois, expertly captures life in a fictional small Midwestern town. In "The Widow," a ghostly wife devotes herself to watching her husband's last days on Earth from above, taking pleasure in his idiosyncrasies; in "Running Out," a goodhearted man thinks his luck is about to change for the better when a single day brings a stream of simple pleasures and good omens. The title novella ends the collection with its carefully detailed and moving description of the relationship between two elderly sisters. When the younger sister, May, has a stroke, shattering the comfort of their daily routine, 80-year-old Margaret struggles with painful memories and overwhelming questions about the future. As in Garrison Keillor's Lake Wobegon stories, all of Lordan's characters seem to know one another. Each story illuminates a different facet of the same community‘taken as a whole, they provide a rich collage of experiences and emotions. Highly recommended.‘Charlotte L. Glover, Ketchikan P.L., AK (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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