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Composed of short vignettes depicting both momentous and everyday events in the life of a young Alabaman woman named Ardor, this is not your typical narrative. Rather than tell us a story about Ardor, Thomas offers the reader brief glimpses that, woven together, create an idea about Ardor. The story pieces act as a quilt, each piece providing a unique perspective. Though the pieces are disjointed, and transitioning from one to another creates momentary confusion while the reader settles in to the new time period, they fit snugly together to tell of a fascinating woman.

Abandoned by her dad (though not without a fight) when she was a teenager, Ardor has unusual ideas about love. Fiercely anti-monogamous, she has various lovers throughout the book, though only two that are lasting. Wade is her boyfriend: steady and caring, but boring. Lew is her former professor who is in an open marriage. Ardor’s time with Lew is passionate, intense, and impossible to maintain. There is also an intriguing story about a lesbian relationship. However, after seeing the pair declare their love, we never see them together again.

Ardor’s most endearing qualities come out in her interactions with friends and family. A few scenes taking place in a nursing home are particularly touching, and several beautiful moments are created when Ardor comforts friends who have been burned by love. Throughout the story, she is compassionate and loving, but she is never perfect. All of the characters are deeply flawed and therefore feel real. Even the characters that appear for only a minute are given personalities and quirks. With only one, unfortunately offensive, exception, all of the characters are treated as unique, worthy people despite their differences.

In telling a story about one woman, James Ladd Thomas has created an entire town filled with lovably imperfect people, and he has created a story about the importance of trying new things, making mistakes, being honest, and always growing.

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Star Count 4/5
Format Trade
Page Count 249 pages
Publisher CreateSpace
Publish Date 01-Sep-2012
ISBN 9781477682920 Buy this Book
Issue May 2013
Category Modern Literature


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