With the 11 stories in this popular collection, Mary Ward Brown offers her devoted fans a palette of true literary pleasures. The hallmarks of her style - the fully realized characters, her deep sensitivity, a defining sense of place and time - are amply employed to involve and delight the reader. All but one of the stories are set in Alabama. They deal with small but dramatic turning points in the lives of characters who happen to be southerners, many of them caught between Old South sensibility and New South modernity. Through their diverse voices, Brown proves herself a graceful and gifted storyteller who writes with an authoritative pen, inventing and inhabiting the worlds of her characters with insight, compassion, and wit. First published in cloth in 2002, the collection was greeted with national applause. Southern Living glowed, "Mary Ward Brown...creates stories with Southern charm and brilliance in this her second book. [She] mixes the tensions of family, economics, romance, and social standing to create stories faithful to the Black Belt and the complexities of the 'simple' life. She captures the decisive moment of a thought, a life, a relationship."
The Birmingham News noted, "Ms. Brown's stories are small-town stories - gentle in the telling, colorful in description. Life is simple, slow, ritualistic - and regularly spiced with gossip. She takes us to the funeral of a town matriarch. We visit diners, a storefront church, parlors. We share precious memories of a way of life that is long gone." Steve Yates, writing for the Jackson (MS) Clarion-Ledger, understood, "Without fail, plainly told living truths from [the mouths of] printer's devils, insurance salesmen, widows, newspaper editors, waitresses, dirt farmers, and farm hands drive every story...We know we've met her people. Near story's end, we don't want to leave them behind. And long after we've set the book aside, we grow lonesome for them yet again."