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 Fiction Review   



Liberating Paris
by Linda Bloodworth Thomason
William Morrow, 2004
Hardcover, $24.95 (340 pages)
ISBN: 0-06059670-8

Fans of Linda Bloodworth Thomason's work in television -- most notably "Evening Shade," and "Designing Women" -- will love the familiarity of Liberating Paris. As in her writing for television, the author has created an "ensemble cast" in the small, Southern town of Paris, Arkansas. Both the characters and the town are undergoing some unwelcomed changes.  

Five members of the local high school clique have remained in town, becoming the upstanding citizens their parents and teachers hoped they'd be. They've remained loyal to the community and one another. Kindness is second nature to these people. 

Turning forty has made Woodrow Mcilmore reconsider his life. Like his father and grandfather, he went to medical school and is an ob/gyn. Unlike his father and grandfather, he wonders why women entrust him with their health problems. Married to one of his two high school sweethearts, he sometimes wonders about the roads not taken. 

Milan, his wife, grew up dirt poor and knows the value of hard work, understands the true nature of friendship, and is still the loveliest woman in the county. 

When Wood and Milan's daughter announces her intention to marry the son of Wood's other high school sweetheart Duff, her parents are surprised. Milan and Wood, even in the worst of times, have always had physical chemistry. 

Duff and Wood always had intellectual chemistry. Milan, still slightly insecure even after twenty years of marriage, panics at the thought of history repeating itself in the next generation and the thought of having to spend the next forty or fifty years sharing her daughter with her high school nemesis. 

Set against the backdrop of a small town in economic crisis -- FedMart has located a superstore on the outskirts of town, and is forcing the downtown "mom and pop" stores to close because they can't compete -- Wood and Milan's circle of friends are also forced to confront the assumptions they've made about their own lives. 

Linda Bloodworth Thomason has written a funny, poignant novel with truths -- large and small -- embedded throughout. 

Pam Kingsbury
Southern Scribe Reviews

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