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A Virtuous Woman

3.67  ·  Rating Details ·  21,396 Ratings  ·  523 Reviews
The story of a relationship between a carefully raised daughter of Carolina gentry and a skinny tenant farmer who had never owned anything in his life.
Hardcover, 158 pages
Published January 28th 1997 by Workman Publishing Company, Inc. (first published April 30th 1989)
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Community Reviews

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Apr 19, 2008 Dawn rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 01, 2009 Michelle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 50-books-in-2009
Have you ever read a book and felt so distant from it shocked you when you realized you were actually in tears? This novel, such a quick read that a devoted reader will finish it in one sitting, seems so benign and irrelevant, yet works its way into your heart. By the end I found myself shockingly gulping for air. This may be an Oprah pick, but it's a smart book that I'd recommend to anyone who can appreciate a simple story line and a solid tale.
Jul 25, 2009 Drebbles rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2005
Beautifully written, A Virtuous Women, is the quiet love story of Ruby Pitt Woodrow, daughter of a rich farmer, and Jack Stokes, a tenant farmer. At first they seem an unlikely match, Ruby, although 20 years younger than Jack, is already widowed, Jack, unattractive and unsuccessful, has never been married. But both have had tough lives. Ruby is alienated from her parents due to her brief marriage which was a disaster. She is working as a maid when she meets Jack. Jack has never had much, althoug ...more
Linda Lipko
Sep 26, 2010 Linda Lipko rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
After reading Ellen Foster, I thought I simply had to read more by this author. I made a special trip to the library to obtain another.

I was disappointed. While I realize it is difficult to follow one superb book with another, this one fell flat, was choppy, was boring and I'm very glad I read Ellen Foster first or I would not have continued to read more.

Ruby Trip is privileged by southern, small-town farm standards. She has loving parents who dote on her and who can afford food on the table and
Nov 04, 2008 Kara rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anybody who wants boredom seizures or hillbillies
One of the reviews on this book was from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper. Their review states, "So true and so vital I would swear there were moments when A VIRTUOUS WOMAN actually vibrated in my hands." When I read that review, I just knew that this book would be a 'good read.' I was so disappointed with this book. The only vibrating that I experienced while reading this book was when I experienced convulsions from a boredom seizure. I didn't like the characters-- except for Mavis, a ...more
Mar 28, 2009 Tara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this simple, oft-told story of two down-and-out people who find each under and get pleasure in the duty of caring for one another. The story and setting are not unique, but the voice of both characters, and the collage the story is laid out in, and the insights resonate with me still. OK, and I cried at the end. Not many books can make me do that anymore.
Elizabeth C. Haynes
Meh. Started strong and drew me in, but then slowly fell apart.
Melinda McGuire
May 30, 2012 Melinda McGuire rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 26, 2015 Suzanne rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Gosh, for such a small book, it took me forever to read it. While I enjoyed Gibbon's writing style, she really does a good job making her characters lifelike, it just never took off for me. It was very slow paced. Nothing exciting happened that made me anxious to pick it back up after I put it down.

Lesser characters Tiny Fran and Roland were painted as stereo-typical small-minded and selfish archetypes, creating the brunt of the conflicts in the story. The main characters, Jack and Ruby initial
Sep 12, 2008 June rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very spare novel about a husband and wife, Ruby and Jack. The author alternates the POV between the two. I found the vernacular a little confusing at first, and the switching between narrators had me flipping back and forth to see who was speaking. The last two or three chapters were told by other narrators, and that was interesting.

The book gives a very intimate look into their lives. You find out early on that Ruby is dying of lung cancer. It reminded me of some of Annie Proulx's b
Sep 19, 2010 Louize rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
My interest in this story was initially poked during one of my husband’s daily devotion. That day’s lesson was entitled Greatness written by Brian K. Bauknight and the Bible reference was from Proverbs 31:10-31. That day was my birthday.

A virtuous woman, Ruby was diagnosed with Lung Cancer. Instead of worrying on her dying state, she busied herself preparing food for her husband for the months ahead… when she’s already gone. She was more worried about how Jack will get by without her.

Being orp
May 17, 2012 Mari rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book in 1997 and wrote a letter to the Oprah Book Club hoping to be invited to be on the show to have dinner with the author. I'm serious. I thought I could get chosen.

I was at my monthly pedicure appointment with my feet in water when my cell phone rang. It was my son who said I should probably come home because the Oprah Show had just called and was going to call back. I jumped out of the water and went running home in time to get the second call.

The producer asked me questions abo
Aug 15, 2015 Kate rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really did not like this book. I made myself finish it simply because it was not very long. But I struggled with it and even skimmed over 3/4 of the pages. I didn't like the way it was written, I didn't like how it kept skipping back and forth between the past and future with no indication of which part you were, and I didn't like the wording in which the entire book was written. I'm glad I finished it.
Oct 08, 2007 Smita rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kaye Gibbon's tells a sweet love story about a relationship that seems to be based on circumstance and convenience. It's not the usual torrid and obstacle ridden love affair that usually dictates a good romance novel (ie The Notebook). I found the book to be touching and very sad.
Angela Anderson
I didnt really care for this book. It wasn't bad, it just didnt captivate me, it was something to do, more than a book I couldn't put down... I actually read up to the last 10 pages and didnt bother to finish, I just wasnt that interested....
Gary Butler
Dec 08, 2016 Gary Butler rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama
59th book read in 2016.

Number 503 out of 552 on my all time book list.

Review Pending:
May 16, 2017 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like this and I like the style Gibbons has in general. Vivid, something you can sink your fingers into while reading. It's warm as well, tender at the right places. I wish these characters were perhaps a little more individual than their concept types, but it's still a good book even with that. I enjoyed reading.
Sep 23, 2016 Alecia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would give this lovely little book 3.5/5 stars. It is told in alternating chapters, in the voices of Jack Stokes and then his wife, Ruby. We find out early on that Ruby is dying of lung cancer, and then their back stories, as told by these two characters, fill in the rest of this short novel.

It starts out. "She hasn't been dead four months and I've already eaten to the bottom of the deep freeze. I even ate the green peas. Used to I wouldn't turn my hand over for green peas."

The book flows wel
Mar 17, 2010 Carol rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary-fiction
This beautifully-written novel is the story of the marriage between Ruby and Jack, tenant farmers in mid-20th century Georgia. They meet at the end of Ruby's brief and disastrous marriage to a brutal drifter and don't fall in love so much as fall together. Yet their relationship endures and deepens into a quiet and profound love. Gibbons captures the rhythms and styles of her character's speech so perfectly that you can literally hear the timbres of their voices and see their facial expressions ...more
Nov 27, 2010 Ashley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So good. I cried a lot, good thing it was short. The story was told from two perspectives alternating every other chapter between Blinking Jack Stokes and his wife Ruby. The story begins by telling us that Jack has recently lost his wife, so his narration is in the present, while Ruby's are right before she passed away. Both chapter gives background of their courtship, love, and unbreakable bond. The story takes place in a rural farming community and is a wonderful mixture of humour, seriousness ...more
Mar 29, 2011 Emma rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I really loved this book. I picked it up because the title intrigued me and it seemed like a short easy read, which it was. I found myself surprised by the richness of it all. I didn't think that you could feel so connected to so many characters in such a short amount of time. Ms. Gibbons crafts such complex characters, who all have very distinct voices, and paints an entire relationship so beautifully. She is clearly a very talented author and I cannot wait to get my hands onto more of her nove ...more
Stacy Allbritton
If you love the voice of Kaye Gibbons, you will love this book - scant on description and details, but overflowing with emotion and sentiment. I loved the characters Jack and Ruby - two disparate human beings who found each other in a world where that doesn't always happen. It's not the typical "people from different backgrounds" story. It's so much more than that - finding what makes life work through the connection to another human. I didn't think I could love any of her novels more than Ellen ...more
Apr 04, 2014 Kathy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
We read this book for Book Club. I think it's a well written account of the love between an ordinary man and woman. Their love is a deep and abiding one. The alternating narratives are an interesting way to tell the stories of Ruby and Jack. Their distinct voices are recognizable after the first couple of chapters. When Ruby and Jack reflect on life, love, and the hereafter, their simple language manifests a surprising depth of spirit.
May 02, 2012 Janet rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction

I'd begun reading this ages ago. started over during the days my own mother was dying, reading next to her, and then not touching the book again until several days after she passed. finished last night, not two weeks after losing her, and not a year since my own partner died. the writing is perfect in its evocation of grief and care and love.
Apr 29, 2015 Amanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As with all Kaye Gibbons' books I've read, I loved the style of writing and the characters voices. I also enjoyed the humor and sorrow juxtaposed beside each other. Such is life. I can't give it a full five stars, but overall it was a very well-written and heartbreaking story.
Kaye Gibbons is one hell of a writer. She portrays moments of bliss as well as heartaches in a vivid way. I loved how she throws her lines or should I say punchlines. There's not much of a twist though. Still definitely a good read.
May 03, 2010 Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Part of Oprah's book club... and now I know why. Concise, provacative, and sassy. I really enjoyed it and read in in just a couple days. I plan on reading more of her books. Does contain some 'farmer language.' This is the kind of book that makes me want to write.
Brittany Bates
Apr 19, 2015 Brittany Bates rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a fairly simple book, short and to the point. The simplicity made sense with the characters and held a sort of subtle charm. I finished it in a few hours and felt satisfied.
Jul 27, 2008 Valerie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Valerie by: Marcia or Matt
Shelves: autographed
There is a scene in this book that still he haunts me, I won't mention it because its a spoiler moment, but I still remember a friend telling me about his identical experience.
Mar 24, 2015 Christi rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Maybe I wasn't thinking hard enough, but I just didn't get the ending.
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Honors English II...: Book 3 - Lee 1 2 Feb 20, 2016 09:36AM  
Madison Mega-Mara...: A Virtuous Woman 1 2 Dec 27, 2013 03:40PM  
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Kaye Gibbons was born in 1960 in Nash County, North Carolina, on Bend of the River Road. She attended North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, studying American and English literature. At twenty-six years old, she wrote her first novel, Ellen Foster. Praised as an extraordinary debut, Eudora Welty said that "the honesty of thought and eye and feeling and ...more
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“It took me a long time to learn that mistakes aren't good or bad,
they're just mistakes, and you clean them up and go on.”
“Oh, it's no crime to want and need somebody to love and to be loved by and to go and do what you need to do to have that, but its certainly a pity when you want it so badly you'll let it be anybody.” 7 likes
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