SWEET REMEDY by Linda Phillips Ashour


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 Offering a conventional analysis of the woes of a modern marriage, Ashour (Joy Baby, 1992, etc.) relies on homespun quirkiness to distract readers from routine plotting. Polly Harrison finds herself ``a tourist in a terrible country,'' that is, single again at 40. Newly separated from husband Tom, Polly confronts her anger at his adulterous betrayal, the venom of two adolescent kids who want dad back in the house, and the unexpected arrival of Granny Settle. At 82, Granny Settle has driven her pick-up truck from her home in Granite, Oklahoma (Polly and Tom's hometown too), to Polly's Los Angeles house in order to distribute the last of her belongings and get herself ready for dying. A rodeo cowgirl in her youth, Granny Settle has brought along plenty of stories, fistfuls of red Granite dirt, and a ``feisty'' personality. But Polly and the kids have weightier concerns. Polly, it seems, has a newly discovered interest in writing country-and-western lyrics, as well as a vacillating new romance with Russell, the next-door neighbor. Events plod forward as Polly does temp work and writes songs, until her big break rolls into town in the guise of an old-time country singer who may be interested in her lyrics (which are scattered throughout the novel). Thrown into the stew is a stalker who quickly moves from crazy to deadly in a plot that element seems as out of place as Granny Settle on the streets of LA. Still, with Granny's tales of folksy honor infusing the house, there's never a doubt that things will work out for Polly and her family, who unite for an unabashedly sentimental finale, driving home the necessity of roots in this modern world. Though adept enough in the actual storytelling, Ashour rehashes themes (divorce, midlife love, return to home and hearth) that are all too familiar.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-684-81833-7
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1996


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