Keeping Warm

Mary Gardner, Author Atheneum Books $17.95 (262p) ISBN 978-0-689-11841-8
Like its heroine, petite and ordinary Kay Lombard, this first novel starts out a little slowly, its emphasis on restraint and evenness. By the story's conclusion, however, the lid's been blown off, and things won't ever be quite the same. Kay teaches English to college freshmen in Fargo, N.D. Since her husband's death two years before, she has centered her life around her two children, while nurturing a yen for country-and-western music and indulging in some harmless fantasy about raspy-voiced star Billy Calloway. When Billy gives a concert in a nearby town, Kay attends with the kids and, through a fluke, gets to meet him. Mustering a whimsical kind of courage, she sends Billy a note, receives an answer, goes to the next concert by herself. A series of scenes wild with humor and coincidence lead to Billy's riding back to Fargo with Kay. There Kay's Midwestern solidity collides with Billy's unrepressed, slightly druggie lunacy before settling for a while into an unlikely but believable union. Without sentimentality and with a respect for climate, be it high weather on the plains or in the bedroom, Garner has created characters to cheer for. Every Kay deserves a Billy; every Billy needs a Kay. (January 20)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1987
Release date: 01/01/1987
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