Other titles by Lee Smith include "Fair and Tender", "Ladies" and "Saving Grace" and the story collections "Me and My Baby View the Eclipse" and "News of the Spririt", both "New York Times" Notable Books. Her other awards include the Lila Wallace "Reader's Digest" Writer's Award and the 1999 Academy Award for fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Harriet, Courtney, Catherine, Anna, and Baby were suite-mates at Mary Scott College in Virginia. During the summer after graduation, in 1963, they built a raft and floated down the Mississippi, ostensibly to honor Huckleberry Finn but also to commemorate their friendship as they set out on their own. Fast forward to 1999. The four surviving members of the group book themselves on a luxury steamboat cruise from Memphis to New Orleans, carrying a box with the ashes of their recently deceased chum. Each story of the "last girls" begins with the first days at Mary Scott. There's Harriet, the unmarried schoolteacher; Courtney, the society matron; Catherine, the artist; Anna, the novelist; and Baby, the wild yet fragile heiress. Though their choices in career and marriage separated them geographically and experientially, the bonds formed long ago are unbreakable. Smith reads her own work confidently, and her Southern accent is perfect. This will be a popular addition to public library collections.-Nann Blaine Hilyard, Zion-Benton P.L., IL Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.