A Virtuous Woman

Paperback | November 5, 1997

byKaye Gibbons

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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.

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From Our Editors

When Blinking Jack Stokes met Ruby Pitt Woodrow, she was 20 and he was 40. She was the daughter of Carolina gentry. He was a skinny tenant farmer who had never owned anything in his life. They didn't fall in love so much as they simply found each other and held on for dear life.

From the Publisher

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...

Kaye Gibbons lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, with her husband, Michael, and their three daughters, Mary, Leslie, and Louise. Her first novel, Ellen Foster, was awarded the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, and was accorded a special citation by the Ernest Hemingway Founda...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:176 pages, 7.99 × 5.19 × 0.47 inPublished:November 5, 1997Publisher:Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0375703063

ISBN - 13:9780375703065

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Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Virtuous Woman A wonderful love story, told from the perspective of both characters, Jack and Ruby. It is a great way to tell the story! I don't usually enjoy love stories but definitely enjoyed this one, as the characters are easy to identify with, the story is amusing and always entertaining, and it isn't too long. Worth your while to pick up!
Date published: 1999-03-01

Extra Content

Read from the Book

She hasn't been dead four months and I've already eaten to the bottomof the deep freeze. I even ate the green peas. Used to I wouldn't turnmy hand over for green peas. My whole name is Blinking Jack Ernest Stokes, stokes the fire, stokesthe stove, stokes the fiery furnace of hell! I've got a nerve problem inback of the face so I blink. June nicknamed me for it when she was little.My wife's name was Ruby Pitt Woodrow Stokes. She was a real prettywoman. Used to I used to lay up in bed and say, "Don't take it off in thedark! I want to see it all!" Ruby died with lung cancer in March. She wasn't but forty-five, young woman to die so early. She used to tell me, she'd say, "What's good for the goose is good for the gander. I imagine I'll stop smoking about the time you stop drinking." June's daddy, Burr, told me one time people feed on each other's bad habits, which might could be true except for one thing, I'm not really what I would call a drinking man. I hardly ever take a drink except when I need one. But Ruby died and they laid her out and crossed her hands over her bosom, and I said to them, "I never saw her sleeping like that." They said but that's the way everybody was laid, so I said, "Fine then, I'll let her be." I did lean over in the coffin though and fix her fingers so the nicotine stains wouldn't show. Ruby had the creamiest soft skin and I hated to have brown spots ruin her for people. Suppose you went to view somebody who'd died being shot or stabbed somewhere so you'd notice. Don't you know they'd fill in with some kind of spackle and smooth it over to match him? Sure they would! Same thing only different with Ruby's two ashy-smelling fingers. God, you ought to've seen her in the hospital, weak, trying to sit up, limp as a dishrag. She'd lost down so much, looked like she'd literally almost shook all the meat off, all that coughing and spewing up she'd done. If you want to feel helpless as a baby sometime, you go somewhere and watch such as that. Seemed like every time she'd cough a cold shudder'd run up and down me. I sat with her long as they'd let me that night, then I had to leave. I stuck my head up under her tent and said to her, "'Night, 'night, Ruby. I'm headed back to the Ponderosa with Burr. I'll see you first thing in the morning." Then she put those two ashy-smelling fingers up to her mouth like either she was blowing me a kiss or telling me to hush a little. And while I was looking at her and trying to figure out which one she meant, I realized she wasn't motioning love or to hush to me. She was wanting a cigarette, asking me for one. I thought, Well I will be damned. And I said, Hard as that woman worked to get over too good a life then too bad a life, what a pity, what a shame to see this now. I hated to but I had to call it selfish, not like the Ruby I knew. But I suppose when you're that bad off and you're not here, not gone either, I suppose you can get to the point that you are all that matters to yourself, and thinking about yourself is the last thing left you can remember how to do. So you're bound to go on and forgive it. And after it all, after it's all said and done, I'll still have to say, Bless you, Ruby. You were a fine partner, and I miss you.

From Our Editors

When Blinking Jack Stokes met Ruby Pitt Woodrow, she was 20 and he was 40. She was the daughter of Carolina gentry. He was a skinny tenant farmer who had never owned anything in his life. They didn't fall in love so much as they simply found each other and held on for dear life.

Editorial Reviews

"Kaye Gibbons shows us the secret core of a love that easily outlasts death. It's invisible mastery—but mastery all the same." —Reynolds Price"So true and so vital I would swear that there were moments when A Virtuous Woman actually vibrated in my hands." —Atlanta Journal-Constitution"Complex, compact . . . onen thinks of a Lillian Hellman play. . . . The architecture of this novel is remarkable." —Padgett Powell, The New York Times Book Review