THE HEDGE, THE RIBBON by Carol Orlock

THE HEDGE, THE RIBBON

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Whimsical stories told by an anonymous caregiver to her aged charge that intertwine like the ribbon and the hedge of the title- -all to create a history of a person and a place in a novel that won a 1993 Western States Book Award. Small-town Milford is a ``happy-face/have-a-nice-day sort of place''--nothing terrible happens there, nobody's ever nasty, and tragedy and doubt are concepts as foreign as murder and mayhem. In this very white-bread environment, Orlock (The Goddess Letters, 1987; Inner Time, p. 919) uses a genteel Protestant sort of magic realism to give a literary gloss to the tales told on each visit to the frail and ailing Amzie Latham. Amzie lives in a house overgrown by an almost impenetrable hedge that has closed off the gate and is now reaching for the third floor. The stories, told chronologically, move from her childhood, when young Amzie went around asking neighbors to will the snow to keep falling, to a motor trip she took with retired husband Tom. In between, we twice meet old Mrs. Madden, who owned the house originally--once when she goes downtown in a futile search for free daffodils; and again when she takes a bus ride that becomes a gentle metaphorical journey to death. Meanwhile, Tom Latham, for whom ``the future was a real thing,'' has his own story, as do artist daughter Betsy, who specialized in making replicas of everything, including the town itself; an amnesiac former spy called ``Mr. Twelveclocks'' (he wears numerous watches); the local pharmacist, who falls in love with a fake Rembrandt portrait; a ghost who offers Amzie tea; and others who all experience something pleasantly off-kilter. Nice stories, nicely told, about a very nice place with nice people who need a bit of a reality check to bring them fully to life.

Pub Date: Oct. 15th, 1993
ISBN: 0-913089-48-6
Page count: 312pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1993