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Works by
Kaye Gibbons
(Writer)
[May 5, 1960 - ]

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Profile created March 18, 2008
Fiction
  • The Life All Around Me By Ellen Foster (2006)
    This sequel to Gibbons's beloved classic Ellen Foster stands on its own as an unforgettable portrait of a redoubtable adolescent making herself up out of whole cloth. Now fifteen, Ellen is settled into a permanent home with a new mother. Strengthened by adversity and blessed with enough intelligence to design a salvation for herself, she still feels ill at ease in the world. Her sole surviving ritual — a visit to the county fair — takes on totemic importance. While she holds fast to the shreds of her childhood — humoring her best friend, Stuart, who is determined to marry her; and protecting her old neighbor, slow-witted Starletta — she negotiates her way into a larger world by selling her poetry to pay her way to a camp for gifted students. With a singular mix of perspicacity, naïveté, and compassion, Ellen draws us into her life and makes us fall in love with her all over again.

  • Divining Women (2004)
    In her darkest yet most redeeming novel, Gibbons scorches us with a firestorm of despair-and then resurrects love and hope from its very ashes.

    Autumn 1918: Rumors of peace are spreading across America, but spreading even faster are the first cases of Spanish influenza, whispering of the epidemic to come. Maureen Ross, well past a safe childbearing age, is experiencing a difficult pregnancy. Her husband, Troop-cold and careless of her condition-is an emotional cripple who has battered her spirit throughout their marriage. As Maureen's time grows near, she becomes convinced she will die in childbirth. Into this loveless ménage arrives Mary Oliver, Troop's niece. The sheltered child of a well-to-do, freethinking Washington family, Mary comes to help Maureen in the last weeks of her confinement. Horrified by Troop's bullying, she soon discovers that her true duty is to protect her aunt.

    As the influenza spreads and the death toll grows, Troop's spiteful behaviors worsen. Tormenting his wife, taunting her for her "low birth," hiding her mother's letters, Troop terrorizes the household. But when Mary fights back, he begins to go over the edge, and Maureen rallies, releasing a stunning thunderstorm of confrontation and, ultimately, finding spiritual renewal.

  • On the Occasion of My Last Afternoon: A Novel (1998)
    Emma Garnet Tate Lowell, a plantation owner's daughter, grows up in a privileged lifestyle, but it's not all roses. Her family's prosperity is linked to the institution of slavery, and Clarice, a close and trusted family servant, exposes Emma to the truth and history of their plantation and how it brutally affected the slave population.

    Her father, Samuel P. Tate, has an aggressive and overpowering persona that intimidates many people -- including Emma. But she refuses to conform to his ideals and marries a prominent young doctor. Together they face the horrors of the Civil War, nursing wounded soldiers, as Emma begins the long journey toward her own recovery from the terrible forces that shaped her father's life.

  • Sights Unseen: A Novel (1995)
    The acclaimed New York Times bestselling author of Ellen Foster,Kaye Gibbons paints intimate family portraits in lyrical prose, using as her palette the rich, vibrant colors of the American South. Sights Unseen shows the author at her most passionate and heartfelt best -- an unforgettable tale of unconditional love, and of a family's desperate search for normalcy in the midst of mental illness. It is a novel of rare poignancy, wit, and evocative power -- the story of the relationship between Hattie Barnes and her emotionally elusive mother, Maggie, known by their neighbors as "that Barnes woman with all the problems."

  • Charms for the Easy Life (1993)
    A family without men, the Birches live gloriously offbeat lives in the lush, green backwoods of North Carolina. Radiant, headstrong Sophia and her shy, brilliant daughter, Margaret, possess powerful charms to ward off loneliness, despair, and the human misery that often beats a path to their door. And they are protected by the eccentric wisdom and muscular love of the remarkable matriarch Charlie Kate, a solid, uncompromising, self-taught healer who treats everything from boils to broken bones to broken hearts.

    Sophia, Margaret, and Charlie Kate find strength in a time when women almost always depended on men, and their bond deepens as each one experiences love and loss during World War II. Charms for the Easy Life is a passionate, luminous, and exhilarating story about embracing what life has to offer ... even if it means finding it in unconventional ways.

  • A Cure for Dreams (1991)
    In her novels Ellen Foster and A Virtuous Woman, Kaye Gibbons has compiled what one critic has called "a fictional oral history of female wishes [and] hopes." That tradition continues in A Cure for Dreams, a richly woven story that traces the bonds between four generations of Southern women through stories passed from mother to daughter to granddaughter. Gibbons shows us shrewd, resourceful women prevailing over hard times and heartless men and finding unexpected pleasures along the way: gossip, gambling, and the quiet satisfaction of knowing more than they're supposed to.

  • A Virtuous Woman (1989) -- 1997 Oprah Book Club selection
    When Blinking Jack Stokes met Ruby Pitt Woodrow, she was twenty and he was forty. She was the carefully raised daughter of Carolina gentry and he was a skinny tenant farmer who had never owned anything in his life. She was newly widowed after a disastrous marriage to a brutal drifter. He had never asked a woman to do more than help him hitch a mule. They didn't fall in love so much as they simply found each other and held on for dear life.

    Kaye Gibbons's first novel, Ellen Foster, won the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and the praise of writers from Walker Percy to Eudora Welty. In A Virtuous Woman, Gibbons transcends her early promise, creating a multilayered and indelibly convincing portrait of two seemingly ill-matched people who somehow miraculously make a marriage
    .

  • Ellen Foster (1987) -- Winner Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters; 1997 Oprah Book Club selection
    "When I was little I would think of ways to kill my daddy. I would figure out this or that way and run it down through my head until it got easy."

    So begins the tale of Ellen Foster, the brave and engaging heroine of Kaye Gibbons's first novel. Wise, funny, affectionate and true, Ellen Foster is, as  Walker Percy called it, "The real thing. Which is to say, a lovely, sometimes heart/wrenching novel...[Ellen Foster] is as much a part of the backwoods South as a Faulkner character and a good deal more endearing."

Non-fiction
Other
See also:
  • Kaye Gibbons: A Literary Companion (2007) by Mary Ellen Snodgrass
    With novels like Ellen Foster and A Virtuous Woman, award-winning writer Kaye Gibbons has gained both critical acclaim and a large, devoted following among readers. This literary companion equips the reader with information about characters, plots, dates, allusions, literary motifs, and themes from the bestselling author's works. After an annotated chronology of Gibbons' life, the work presents 103 A-Z entries that include Snodgrass's analysis, cover the writings of reviewers and critics, and provide selected bibliographies. Appendices offer an historical timeline with references to corresponding historical events from Gibbons' novels, along with a list of 42 topics for group or individual research projects.

  • Kaye Gibbons: A Critical Companion (2003) by Mary Jean DeMarr
    Born to a tobacco farmer in rural North Carolina, Kaye Gibbons found her literary voice by speaking through the strong southern women who inhabit her novels. While concentrating on the places and people she knows well, Gibbons has managed to speak for people who struggle to find their own place, wherever they are, and her books have reached a worldwide audience. Whether for students assigned to read Ellen Foster or for lovers of literature, this companion--the first and only book-length study of its kind--provides insights and interpretations that will help readers enjoy and better appreciate the novels of Kaye Gibbons. Beginning with a biographical chapter, this companion shows how Gibbons's own life came to shape her fiction. Her place in and contributions to the genre of the southern novel are considered, and readers are taken through each of her six novels, starting with the highly acclaimed Ellen Foster (1987) and concluding with On the Occasion of My Last Afternoon (1998). For each work, lucid analyses of plot, character development, theme, and style are provided, along with an alternate critical perspective. The select bibliography includes reviews and further information on biographical and critical sources.

  • Southern Selves: From Mark Twain and Eudora Welty to Maya Angelou and Kaye Gibbons -- A Collection of Autobiographical Writing (1998) by James Watkins
    In this marvelous anthology thirty-one of the South's finest writers -- from Mark Twain and Maya Angelou to Kaye Gibbons and Reynolds Price, to Eudora Welty and Richard Wright -- make their intensely personal contributions to a vibrant collective picture of southern life.

    In the hands of these superb artists, the South's rich tradition of storytelling is brilliantly revealed. Whether slave or master, intellectual or "redneck," each voice in this moving and unforgettable collection is proof that southern literature richly deserves its reputation for irreverent humor, exquisite language, a feeling for place, and an undying, often heartbreaking sense of the past.

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