This is the story of Virginia Turner Ballard, know to her North Carolina relatives as Ginny Sue. It’s also the story of her mother, her grandmother, her great aunts, her closest cousin–three generations of women who gather around Virginia to help her at the end of a hard pregnancy, to tend to her, to help her prepare for the fourth generation. This kind of family attendance, this kind of tending to, is Southern to the core, offering, as it does, the occasion for reviving and trading entwined family stories. Tending to Virginia is a novel of one family’s most important stories–how they happened, how they were perceived, how they were remembered, how their truth is revealed. In the end, an eruption of family confessions becomes revelation–revelation as legacy, passed down among a family’s women; revelation as a family’s gift in celebration of growing up, a process Jill McCorkle knows lasts into old age. In her characterizations of these vivid women playing out their generational roles in the contemporary South, McCorkle presents us with a powerful insight–that the strongest family bonds are, for better or worse, as often created by what is held back as by what is spoken.
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