Hand I Fan with Flr

Tina McElroy Ansa, Author Doubleday Books $4.99 (0p) ISBN 978-0-385-48616-3
The existence of spirits in the material world is a device Ansa has used successfully before, and in her entertaining third novel she again spins a story that interweaves magic and everyday life. As in her previous novels, the setting is Mulberry, a small insular town in middle Georgia, where Lena McPherson (first met in Baby of the Family), a single, 40-ish African American, is regarded with awe. Vested with psychic powers as a result of being born with a caul, Lena enjoys ""an abundance of blessings'' (good real estate investments, a beautiful house, prestige cars, designer clothes). A charitable woman, she shares much of her wealth with others and is a protector of Mulberry's youngest citizens. Lena also has known sadness: her immediate family is dead, and she has never fallen in love. Within days of conducting a ritual to bring a man into her life, Lena is knocked down by an invisible force while inspecting one of her properties; later, something touches her lasciviously as she swims in her indoor pool. The next morning, Herman materializes in her bedroom: attractive, with ""a noble face,"" dead for more than a century and invisible to all but her, he has an immediate impact on Lena's life--one that everyone notices, but none can explain. Lena turns her business operations over to co-workers and concentrates on her passionate affair, realizing that she has for too long been supporting everyone else--acting as the dependable ""hand [they] fan with""--and neglecting her own needs. When Herman's impermanence becomes clear, Lena must decide how to conduct the balance of her life. Persuasively evoking both small-town Southern ways and the spiritual realm, Ansa populates her story with an abundance of quirky but endearing characters. But readers must be willing to overlook some graceless prose and some choppy pacing to enter into Ansa's often beguiling world. 100,000 first printing; first serial to Essence and D magazine; Literary Guild main selection; major ad/promo; author tour. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/02/1996
Release date: 09/01/1996
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