In this charming collection of short stories, author Mary Ann Henry has captured Southern women from the Lowcountry — the coastal region of South Carolina and Georgia — in all their quirky glory.
Ladies in Low Places consists of 18 fictional stories, each told from the point of view of the main characters who range in age from teens to seniors. The stories are enhanced by sharp writing and dialogue and a strong sense of place: Characters may meet the same challenges as the rest of us, but they cope in ways unique to their Southern heritage.
In “The Basket Maker,” for example, Sara Marcia, “Lowcountry’s premier wedding planner,” is traversing the Charleston Market for “a bridesmaid’s gift that just screams the Lowcountry.” When she’s inexplicably drawn to Martha, a woman selling sweet-grass baskets, and the empty rocking chair next to her, she sits down and begins to sob, apologizing but unable to move. Soon she’s re-examining her life through Martha and her therapeutic rocking chair.
Perhaps the most poignant story is “The List of Lasts,” where the now-elderly Hattie tells the reader how she began to keep a book of “last times,” after the death of her baby. “I bought a notebook and started with…the last time I held Hope…And then I waited, knowing the list would grow.” Some “last times” are immediately obvious to her, she notes: “Like this morning. I reached for my bottle of hair rinse at the Walmart and I just knew…Bring on the grey, I thought.” Some of the “lasts” are funny; others sweet, and the reader comes to understand how the list gave Hattie a way “of keeping track without letting the memories take over.”
All of the stories are told with warmth, humor, and insight into human nature. They may take place in a specific locale, but the themes are universal. Like the call of the Lowcountry, readers will find themselves wanting to return to these pages again and again.
Also available as an ebook.