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A Cross-Generational Romantic Gem–Review: A Virtuous Woman by Kaye Gibbons

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“Oh, it’s no crime to want and need somebody to love and to be loved by and to go and do what you need to do to have that, but its certainly a pity when you want it so badly you’ll let it be anybody.”

Kaye Gibbons “might could of” written the definitive story of Cross-Generational Love. Jack and Ruby are a couple for the ages! I missed this book when it was released thanks to being in the Peace Corps in Malawi and the Gulf War getting in the way of everything. I finally caught up with it and I’m so glad I did! Just as well I didn’t see that it was an Oprah Book Club selection or I might have skipped it. After all, no one dies in the first sentence, there’s no incest or anything like that. I AM grateful to Oprah for getting our country to read, I just don’t always find her picks to be anything be depressing. This one is a very good exception to that perception.

The Story

After a youthful mistake of epic proportions, Ruby finds Jack, an older man from a different socio-economic class. Ruby wants someone to take care of her. Jack wants to take care of Ruby. And they lived happily ever after–for the most part.

What I Loved

This story is so real–so believable. To me, that’s the test of good fiction. I loved the way Gibbons tells the story exactly as real-life people from the time and place would have told it in a conversation. “Might could” is a regional expression, but there’s much more to it than a simple phrase. The dialogue is full of Ruby and Jack and the other’s emotions and humanity.

Ruby, the title’s virtuous woman, understands life like few women ever have–but it’s real that she does so. She understands that Jack needs her to take care of him, too. And, she understands that she must speak carefully–she adheres to James 1:19, “...let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.”

“You can’t just throw words out. They have to land somewhere.”

This, and the quote at the top of the post, are the most beautiful things I read in this book. The beautiful feelings of this book are love, acceptenceand protection. Sweet.

A Virtuous Woman: A Novel by Kaye Gibbons

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If you enjoyed this book you likely will enjoy Kent Haruf’s Our Souls at Night, too. You can read my review here  (scroll down to the correct review).

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