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By Charlotte Bacon

Award-winning author Charlotte Bacon illuminates the unforeseen ambiguities of women's lives in a superbly crafted number of tales approximately ladies who've arrived at awkward edges of their lives--adolescence, or previous age, ailing or pregnant. Many come to abrupt discoveries or discover startling secrets and techniques. regardless of their variety in age and scenario, all proportion the typical objective of attempting to reassemble their lives .

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A person trapped in a Page 8 wrecked car, hurting from head to foot and worrying about a loved one, knows very well that all is not right. After EMT class one night, Mary Ellen talks with Keith about cars that provide the greatest protection during collisions. Of course he recommends the big-boned Scandinavians, hugely expensive and prone to breakdown. The next day, Mary Ellen takes out a loan and purchases a blue Volvo she names Sven. They are lurching toward the tense goofiness of Valentine's Day when Mary Ellen succumbs to the request of her juniors to stage a reading of Romeo and Juliet, a play she's never really loved.

G, H, I . Grand mal, hostility, inertia. It is early Saturday evening and Mary Ellen is as usual on the phone with her younger sister Louise, a math teacher who lives in Atlanta because it's a city deeply in its region. They grew up on the Eastern Shore, in a state that wanders uneasily between the North and South: Maryland has its slave-owning past, but isn't swampily mythic enough to be truly southern. Louise likes Geor- Page 6 gia's unequivocal heat and fatty food though she herself is trim as a nail.

But the ring hadn't kept him from asking, a week later, struggling to keep his grip on a bag of peat moss, if he could buy her coffee. The whole thingHenry's car parked blocks away, shades pulled mid-afternoonmade Julia feel soiled and adult in a dark, impractical way. She'd never have gotten wound into something like this if her mother were alive. Her parents, still at ease in marriage after thirty years, without saying a word rejected anything but calm and thoughtful union. Soon after the coffee, Julia lost her shears in the roses, misplaced her license, bounced a large check.

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