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Verbena
By Nanci Kincaid
A Shannon Ravenel Book
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2002
ISBN:  1-565-12-348-4

 

 
 

As in her earlier books, Crossing Blood, Pretending the Bed is a Raft, and Balls; in Verbena, Nanci Kincaid writes about nice women, who are tired of being nice women, and, yet, can't help being nice women. 

Bena has five demanding kids, a teaching job, a small house, and a dog named "Elvis." Named for the old-fashioned flower that flourishes in the deep south, Verbena's life takes an unexpected turn when her husband, Bobby Eckerd, is killed in a car accident with Lorraine Rayfield by his side.  Tempting as it might be to badmouth Bobby, Bena insists that the children treat his memory with care and ignore community gossip. When Lorraine Rayfield's mother invites Bena to the hospital in the hopes of giving her comatose daughter the peace she needs to depart the earth, Bena acquiesces. 

The newly widowed Bena has to learn and unlearn everything she's known. Taking solace in her kids ("Not a criminal among them."), she learns how to manage all the details -- getting the lawn mowed, the car serviced, and paying the mortgage -- without a husband. Teaching and rebuilding her life has left her little time for dating but her children hope she will find somone and she goes on the occasional date to humor them.

When Lucky McKale, the mailman and soon-to-be ex-husband of Sue Cox, takes an interest in Bena, she's charmed by his constancy and thoughtfulness.  Biding his time, he woos Bena as well as her children. When she finally agrees to marry Lucky, she and her children assume a happily ever after ending. Like life, VERBENA, takes unforeseen twists.

In her third novel, Nanci Kincaid questions the role chance plays in the common life and how ordinary women and families cope with the reverberations of fate. She has created a loving, forgiving, tolerant family in direct contrast to the popular trend for dysfunctional, hateful families.

The mother of two grown daughters, Kincaid lives in Hawaii with her husband.

 

Pam Kingsbury
Southern Scribe Reviews
 

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