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Copyright 2005
Joan Medlicott

Joan Medlicott's photo
by Chris Clevenger
Courtesy of the Times News, Hendersonville, NC

READER'S STUDY QUESTIONS

Including:

  • The Ladies of Covington Send Their Love
  • The Gardens of Covington
  • From the Heart of Covington
  • The Spirit of Covington

With Southern hospitality, Joan Medlicott has welcomed the world into the lives of Grace, Hannah, and Amelia, three widows sharing a house, a garden, and some amazing recipes in the little town of Covington. Through their love, commitment, and laughter, the ladies of Covington have come to represent the beauty of friendship.

 

The Ladies of Covington Send Their Love
ISBN: 0-312-97945-2

When Grace, Hannah, and Amelia meet in a Pennsylvania boardinghouse, they believe that three meals a day and a sagging bed are all their twilight years have to offer. But friendship takes them on a journey to a North Carolina farmhouse where they realize their lives still have more to give: confidence, competence, and love.

1. Medlicott interweaves her stories with real issues that confront aging women, i.e. health concerns, financial concerns, the pursuits of passions and lifelong dreams, adult/parent relationships, and the necessity of female friendships. What were some issues that had resonance for you?

2. Of the three women, with whom did you most identify? Why?

3. If you were to describe the strengths and weaknesses of each woman, how would you explain the way in which they complement each other? What makes this household work so well?

4. How did you feel about Hannah's relationship with her daughter Miranda, and how did you feel about Hannah's reaction to her grandson Sammy's drinking and accident?

5. Do you think Grace made the right decision in not marrying Bob?

 

The Gardens of Covington
ISBN: 0-312-98012-4

The ladies return with new friends and neighbors in this enchanting second chapter of their lives in Covington. While Hannah battles to save Loring Valley from developers and Grace proves she has a head for business by opening the Cottage Tearoom, Amelia embarks on the frightening and exciting journey of newfound love.

1. Medlicott sees Grace, Hannah, and Amelia as heroines, taking risks and forging new lives. Do you agree with her? What is your concept of a heroine?

2. What does sitting on a porch having tea symbolize to you?

3. Amelia puts her beau Lance before everyone else. Do you find that this is a familiar pattern with your women friends? Do you believe that older men throw everything over for a woman?

4. How did you feel about the marriage of Lurina and Old Man? Were you surprised, at their advanced ages, that they would want to wed?

5. Grace loves both her son Roger and his steady companion, Charles. Do you admire Grace for this? How would you react if one of your children were gay or lesbian?

 

From the Heart of Covington
ISBN: 0-312-28555-8

In their white farmhouse, Hannah, Grace, and Amelia try to surround themselves with love, friendship, and hope. But their joy screeches to a sudden halt when they discover that their neighbor and friend Harold is very ill. Trouble strikes again when Hannah's daughter is involved in a tragic car accident that has serious consequences for all concerned.

1. What are some of the commonalities that bond Grace, Hannah, and Amelia, who have such disparate personalities, backgrounds, and experiences?

2. The issue of love versus commitment to friendship and a lifestyle recurs in Medlicott's novels. Bob is always trying to talk Grace into moving in with him, preferably marrying him. Do you think Grace should do this? Why or why not?

3. Does the manner in which Hannah and her daughter bridge the gap between them satisfy you? In your opinion was it too soon, too abrupt? Timed just right? How would you have handled this situation?

4. Grace denies having diabetes. Is her reaction typical, do you think? How would you have preferred to see her handle this?

5. How did you respond to the process of growth and change that takes place in Amelia? Have your feelings about Amelia changed? Why?

6. Did it surprise you that Amelia and Laura became close friends?

7. How important are the friendships of women to you?

8. What in this novel saddened you? What inspired you?

9. Are you surprised that Hannah would entertain romantic thoughts about Max? What, if anything, concerns you about this?

10. How does creating and working on "the gardens" bring everything closer together?

 

The Spirit of Covington
STUDY GUIDE QUESTIONS

Already having captured readers’ hearts and minds in three critically acclaimed books, the irrepressible ladies of Covington take on an even greater level of emotional complexity as they cope with the shock of a fire that destroys the home of Grace, Hannah and Amelia. Devastated, each grieves and copes in her own unique manner and in the process sow seeds of courage and community that flourish within this small mountain town.

1. When Grace, Hannah, and Amelia lose their home and nearly all their possessions in the fire, each reacts and grieves in a different way. With which lady did you most identify and why?

2. What was your reaction to Max’s proposal to Hannah? Put yourself in Hannah’s shoes. How would you feel? What would you do if you were Hannah?

3. Does Grace overreact to Lucy’s situation? How would you have handled it?

4. Grace has a non-traditional relationship with Bob. She is committed to Hannah and Amelia and their home

a. how do you feel about Grace’s ongoing conflict between her own interests and Bob’s continual pressure to move in with him? Would you be more inclined to do so after Bob’s heart attack? Why? or Why not?

b. can you understand Grace’s reaction to living with Bob after the other ladies move to their new farmhouse?

5. With letters coming from women around the country asking for help in finding and sharing a home with other women, how do you feel about the way the ladies finally responded?

a. would you have handled it differently?

b. if so, what would you have done?

Joan Medlicott, In Her Own Words

The ladies of Covington arrived one evening when I was soaking in my bathtub. First the concept, then bits and pieces of dialogue, then portions of the plot. I saw their faces, the color of their hair and eyes, and understood the differences in their personalities, their experiences and their values. The novel unfolded. There were days when I sat at my computer, uncertain of the plot, and the words would just pour out. And so, at age 66, I began to write my first novel, The Ladies of Covington Send Their Love. Increasingly, it became important to write about those things that women care about, building a strong self image, creating intimate and meaningful relationships, and belonging to a family, no matter how 'family' is defined. And there are themes that run from book to book in my Covington novels, themes that are important in my own life. As the ladies of Covington prevail over their fears and insecurities, they stand out as beacons of possibility for growth, change, and a rich and meaningful life, no matter what age.

 

Praise for the Novels of Joan Medlicott:

"The ladies of Covington sow seeds of courage and community that bloom throughout this small mountain town and deep in the heart of every reader."

- Lynne Hinton, author of Friendship Cake

"Ms. Medlicott is attuned to the nuances of Southern life and draws her characters with affectionate understanding....and an inspiring message of self-acceptance, courage, and survival."

- The Dallas Morning News

"A satisfying, warmhearted look at friendship that endures."

- Sandra Dallas, author of Alice's Tulips

"A must read for women of all ages."

- The Tampa Tribune

 

 


Joan Medlicott
P.O. Box 355
Barnardsville, NC 28709

jmedlicott@mindspring.com

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Read more about The Ladies of Covington Send Their Love

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Joan writes lovingly about the complexity and tenderness of woman and honestly about the intricate bonds of parents and children.

 

Read more about The Gardens of Covington

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Medlicott's message is both non-traditional and cozily traditional.

 

Read more about From the Heart of Covington

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The novels move unhurriedly and serially through episodes, many of which carry serious messages about life, health, love, and family.

 

Read more about The Spirit of Covington

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Pooling resources, sharing a home, committing to friendship, and speaking bluntly when necessary, the ladies offer a model for co-habitation.

 

Read more about At Home in Covington

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The ladies of Covington stand out as beacons of possibilities for growth, change, and rich and meaningful lives.

 

The Seasons of Covington
(due May 2006)

and also, due in Fall 2005, a novella Christmas in Covington in which Grace, Hannah and Amelia and Lurina play a part along with a new young minister and other new characters.