Kaye Gibbons

Charms for the Easy Life (Paperback)

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A family without men, the Birches live gloriously offbeat lives in the lush, green backwoods of North Carolina. Radiant, headstrong Sophia and her shy, brilliant daughter, Margaret, possess powerful charms to ward off loneliness, despair, and the human misery that often beats a path to their door. And they are protected by the eccentric wisdom and muscular love of the remarkable matriarch Charlie Kate, a solid, uncompromising, self-taught healer who treats everything from boils to broken bones to broken hearts.

Sophia, Margaret, and Charlie Kate find strength in a time when women almost always depended on men, and their bond deepens as each one experiences love and loss during World War II. Charms for the Easy Life is a passionate, luminous, and exhilarating story about embracing what life has to offer ... even if it means finding it in unconventional ways.

This P.S. edition features an extra 16 pages of insights into the book, including author interviews, recommended reading, and more.

Specifications

Series Title
Eminent Lives
Publisher
HarperCollins
Book Format
Paperback
Original Languages
English
Number of Pages
254
Author
Kaye Gibbons
Title
Charms for the Easy Life
ISBN-13
9780060760250
Publication Date
July, 2005
Assembled Product Dimensions (L x W x H)
9.00 x 6.00 x 1.50 Inches
ISBN-10
0060760257

Customer Reviews

Average Rating:(4.2)out of 5 stars
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Most helpful positive review
4 customers found this helpful
Average Rating:(5.0)out of 5 stars
Thus is a truly stunni...
Thus is a truly stunning novel. Gibbons gives us the story of three generations of women living together in semi-rural North Carolina. The time line goes from just before the Great Depression until the middle of WWII. There are three women: Charlie Kate - the grandmother and 'healing woman'; Sophia -her stubborn daughter who reluctantly assists her mother, and Margaret, the shy, book-loving granddaughter who adores Charlie Kate and tries to learn as much as she can from her. Each brings a unique persona to the whole. Their lives are intertwined, but each very different. The respect and love they have for each other sometimes erupts into 'differences,' but together they are able to muddle through abandonment by husbands, malpractice on the part of doctors, storms, ignorance, and the war. Margaret could so easily have been scarred by all of the tragedies she witnesses both in her grandmother's patients,and in the romantic relationships of her grandparents and parents. Instead, she emerges unscarred and ready to carry on the legacy of this unusual, loving family. I'm certainly going to check out Kaye Gibbons' other books. This was such an extraordinary read. If her others are half as well written as this, with characters that have even half the charm, they will still be well worth reading.
Most helpful negative review
Average Rating:(2.0)out of 5 stars
Parts of this book are...
Parts of this book are interesting, but I felt like this book mirrored another book which I cannot remember the title. In this story, three generations of women live in virtual harmony in the South. The grandmother practices medicine and is not afraid to voice her opinion to "real" physicians. The mother marries a pseudo wealthy man, but he dies young. The daughter is a reader, but seems to live in the shadow of her grandmother. These three women have many quirks, but the story does not hinge on laughter. The characters seem like black women in their actions and thoughts. Many points of the story become confusing.
Most helpful positive review
4 customers found this helpful
Average Rating:(5.0)out of 5 stars
Thus is a truly stunni...
Thus is a truly stunning novel. Gibbons gives us the story of three generations of women living together in semi-rural North Carolina. The time line goes from just before the Great Depression until the middle of WWII. There are three women: Charlie Kate - the grandmother and 'healing woman'; Sophia -her stubborn daughter who reluctantly assists her mother, and Margaret, the shy, book-loving granddaughter who adores Charlie Kate and tries to learn as much as she can from her. Each brings a unique persona to the whole. Their lives are intertwined, but each very different. The respect and love they have for each other sometimes erupts into 'differences,' but together they are able to muddle through abandonment by husbands, malpractice on the part of doctors, storms, ignorance, and the war. Margaret could so easily have been scarred by all of the tragedies she witnesses both in her grandmother's patients,and in the romantic relationships of her grandparents and parents. Instead, she emerges unscarred and ready to carry on the legacy of this unusual, loving family. I'm certainly going to check out Kaye Gibbons' other books. This was such an extraordinary read. If her others are half as well written as this, with characters that have even half the charm, they will still be well worth reading.
Most helpful negative review
Average Rating:(2.0)out of 5 stars
Parts of this book are...
Parts of this book are interesting, but I felt like this book mirrored another book which I cannot remember the title. In this story, three generations of women live in virtual harmony in the South. The grandmother practices medicine and is not afraid to voice her opinion to "real" physicians. The mother marries a pseudo wealthy man, but he dies young. The daughter is a reader, but seems to live in the shadow of her grandmother. These three women have many quirks, but the story does not hinge on laughter. The characters seem like black women in their actions and thoughts. Many points of the story become confusing.
Thus is a truly stunning novel. Gibbons gives us the story of three generations of women living together in semi-rural North Carolina. The time line goes from just before the Great Depression until the middle of WWII. There are three women: Charlie Kate - the grandmother and 'healing woman'; Sophia -her stubborn daughter who reluctantly assists her mother, and Margaret, the shy, book-loving granddaughter who adores Charlie Kate and tries to learn as much as she can from her. Each brings a unique persona to the whole. Their lives are intertwined, but each very different. The respect and love they have for each other sometimes erupts into 'differences,' but together they are able to muddle through abandonment by husbands, malpractice on the part of doctors, storms, ignorance, and the war. Margaret could so easily have been scarred by all of the tragedies she witnesses both in her grandmother's patients,and in the romantic relationships of her grandparents and parents. Instead, she emerges unscarred and ready to carry on the legacy of this unusual, loving family. I'm certainly going to check out Kaye Gibbons' other books. This was such an extraordinary read. If her others are half as well written as this, with characters that have even half the charm, they will still be well worth reading.
Parts of this book are interesting, but I felt like this book mirrored another book which I cannot remember the title. In this story, three generations of women live in virtual harmony in the South. The grandmother practices medicine and is not afraid to voice her opinion to "real" physicians. The mother marries a pseudo wealthy man, but he dies young. The daughter is a reader, but seems to live in the shadow of her grandmother. These three women have many quirks, but the story does not hinge on laughter. The characters seem like black women in their actions and thoughts. Many points of the story become confusing.

Frequent mentions

1-5 of 17 reviews
Average Rating:(5.0)out of 5 stars

Thus is a truly stunni...

Thus is a truly stunning novel. Gibbons gives us the story of three generations of women living together in semi-rural North Carolina. The time line goes from just before the Great Depression until the middle of WWII. There are three women: Charlie Kate - the grandmother and 'healing woman'; Sophia -her stubborn daughter who reluctantly assists her mother, and Margaret, the shy, book-loving granddaughter who adores Charlie Kate and tries to learn as much as she can from her. Each brings a unique persona to the whole. Their lives are intertwined, but each very different. The respect and love they have for each other sometimes erupts into 'differences,' but together they are able to muddle through abandonment by husbands, malpractice on the part of doctors, storms, ignorance, and the war. Margaret could so easily have been scarred by all of the tragedies she witnesses both in her grandmother's patients,and in the romantic relationships of her grandparents and parents. Instead, she emerges unscarred and ready to carry on the legacy of this unusual, loving family. I'm certainly going to check out Kaye Gibbons' other books. This was such an extraordinary read. If her others are half as well written as this, with characters that have even half the charm, they will still be well worth reading.

Average Rating:(5.0)out of 5 stars

Theres not one thing ...

There's not one thing Kaye Gibbons has written that I didn't love. I read this book years ago, yet re-reading seemed just as fresh and new as before. You can't help but love all three of the women in this story - particularly the grandmother who was plain spoken, sharp witted, and a total riot. She's the relative every family has, the one person who minces no words, and commands respect even when she insults you up one side and down the other.

Average Rating:(4.0)out of 5 stars

What an interesting no...

What an interesting novel this was that brought us into the lives of three generations of women that are living in North Carolina during World War II. The book is narrated by Margaret, the youngest woman in the family. Margaret starts out the story by giving us a little background information about her grandmother, Charlie Kate. Charlie Kate came to be known as the best midwife in the county and was soon requested for various medical problems that people were coming down with. She is a very strong woman and finds herself taking on and winning many battles within the community. It seemed to me that she actually became a martyr for all of the progress that she helped develop within the little town that she lived. Unfortunately, her husband grows tired of her company and leaves Charlie Kate to raise their daughter on her own. Sophia is Charlie Kate's daughter, and although I don't think the novel really focused too much on her, she was a very important character. Sophia marries a man that her mother does not approve of and they end up having a daughter of their own-Margaret. Margaret and Sophia eventually spend most of their waking hours at Charlie Kate's home. The next thing you know, Sophia's husband leaves her and it only seems reasonable that the three women share a home together. As they find themselves spending more time together they learn a lot more about each others dreams and goals. The grandmother is often called upon to go on housecalls for the sick, and Sophia and Margaret usually find themselves accompanying her. It seems that while the grandmother is tending to the sick individual that there is always something important for the others to do, whether it be washing dishes, preparing a meal, or consoling a family member, no job is too little at the time. Through these acts I think they learn the importance of charity, kindness, and compassion. As World War II is in full swing, these ladies find themselves working as volunteers as they are needed. Sophia finds herself leading a local Red Cross chapter, as Margaret and Charlie Kate are asked to help out at a hospital that cares for wounded soldiers that are returning from combat. Charlie Kate helps at the hospital on a medical basis, but Margaret finds herself connecting with the patients on a more emotional level. She spends time with the soldiers by reading letters from home and writing letters for the soldiers that can't complete this task on their own. I found myself looking forward to these letters and it was probably my favorite part of this book. With Sophia busying herself with the Red Cross efforts, Charlie Kate and Margaret form a special bond as they spend more time together. This part was especially sweet to me as I have always been very close to my own grandmother. This book was a short, quick read and it appeared to be simple writing to me, but there was so much beauty and intimacy in the simpleness of it. I found myself enjoying this book more as it progressed and by the time I finished it I really did love it. I know that I wouldn't have chosen this book on my own, so I am grateful that this was a book club selection. I think it will make a great discussion!

Average Rating:(4.0)out of 5 stars

The book is set in Nor...

The book is set in North Carolina in the early 1900s through World War II. The grandma, Charlie Kate Birch, is a no-nonsense, frugal woman whose husband has abandoned her (she gets her revenge eventually!) who practices medicine without a license but is almost famous for how well she does it. Her daughter Sophia is headstrong and beautiful, marries in haste and has lots of regrets. Her daughter Margaret is the star of the book, and this is really the story of her coming of age. She is also strong and no-nonsense just like her grandmother. Quirky and wonderful book.

Average Rating:(4.0)out of 5 stars

Fantastic! Id previou...

Fantastic! I'd previously read and enjoyed 'Ellen Foster' by Gibbons so I was hopeful about this and it delivered in spades. Must seek out more of her books. Tells the story of three generations of women, and the coming of age of the youngest. The grandmother is such a tough, feisty,wise old bird - very endearing.


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