Little Woman

Ellen Akins, Author HarperCollins Publishers $18.95 (231p) ISBN 978-0-06-016362-4
The witty, eccentric authority that fueled Akins's Home Movie has been watered down for her second novel. Narrated by Beauty Skinner, whose excessive height has made her feel odd and unlovable all her life, this lively, slightly cranky, frequently elliptical tale tells of a woman's commune called ``Women Abreast'' that gathers under Beauty's leadership in a house called ``Mother'' near the northern Wisconsin town of Cornucopia. Ostensibly funded by heiress Clara Bow Cole, a woman ``so short that her height would bear repeating,'' the group is attempting rehabilitation by surviving rigorous challenges that will ``test their mettle.'' Along with the others--clearly limned characters such as the six-time bigamist Cathy, the extraordinarily passive Joan, rifle-toting Kathy, three battered wives, a thief and an abortionist--Beauty herself seeks to ignore or revise a past that includes having run away from her husband and infant twins, who were so small she was sure she would hurt them. In breezy prose, Akins delivers memorable characters, game in the face of pain and bad luck, but the story remains, even with its suggestion of redemption for Beauty, as aimless and unfocused as many of the women of Women Abreast. (May)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1990
Release date: 01/01/1990
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-0-06-092323-5
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