Cover image for The ladies farm : a novel
The ladies farm : a novel
Litman, Viqui.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Crown Publishers, [1999]

Physical Description:
245 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



Steel MagnoliasmeetsThe First Wives Clubin a touching and hilarious novel of friendship, love, sex, dreams, and good hair. After you've raised the kids, been widowed or divorced once or twice, or even if -- especially if -- you've been married for a few decades, you need a rest.The Ladies Farmoffers relaxation, exercise, crafts classes, and a fully equipped beauty salon. This idyllic retreat set in the hills of Sydonia, Texas, is owned and operated by four friends: Pauline, the resident earth mother; Rita, the oft-married hairdresser; Della, a plain-spoken divorcee; and the younger businesswoman, Kat. When Barbara, widow of Richard -- a man who had a great love of womankind -- moves in, all hell breaks loose at the Ladies Farm. Turns out that all Richard's ex-lovers live in Texas; in fact, more than one of them resides right at the Ladies Farm. Take five women of a certain age, one piece of prime real estate, and one dead man who had a lot of love to give, and you have a rollicking, rambunctious novel about women who are old enough to know what they want out of life and young enough to get it.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Get ready for a real good time, but get out your handkerchiefs. In this funny and tender tale, the four proprietors of Ladies Farm, a small and lovely resort about an hour out of Fort Worth, know who is good at what; they know about compromises and how to keep the peace. They have found home and family in each other, as manicures and facials get done, pottery and writing workshops happen, and they make sure rooms get cleaned and lunch gets served. Della is still grieving for her dead lover Richard, whose wife, Barbara, suddenly appears with two bombshells: she owns half of Ladies Farm, and she's come to stay. When Pauline, everyone's rock and confidante, dies suddenly, chaos ensues: Who owns what? And who will take care of whom? And just how many of the Ladies did Richard love, anyway? Never-healed hurts and the importance of hair, good men and bad boys, the meaning of work and the meaning of meaning--it's all here along with raucous laughter and more than one good cry. --GraceAnne A. DeCandido

Publisher's Weekly Review

Litman's brisk and chatty first novel promises to celebrate women's friendship, but her characters sometimes seem to care more for jewelry and real estate. The "farm" of the title is a bed-and-breakfast outside Fort Worth, Tex., where three middle-aged women create a folksy spa, offering their guests homemade recipes, quality hair care and a place to escape (and trade gossip about) men. When the widow Barbara takes a room at the Ladies' Farm, both proprietors and guests fear possible upsetting revelations. Managers Kat and Della both had affairs with Barbara's late husband, Richard, and they worry that their liaisons will be unearthed. Owner Pauline, a loyal confidante who records the secrets she hears in her journals, suffers a heart attack after learning that Barbara had an affair with her late husband, Hugh. Once Pauline sees the amethyst Hugh gave Barbara, Pauline is sure it was Barbara he loved. The B&B, meanwhile, faces financial disaster: Pauline's angry son threatens to close down the Farm to build a gravel pit. Della tries to evaluate Richard's feelings for each of the women in his life by taking the diamonds he gave them to be appraised. Later on, good-natured hairdresser Rita gets married. Litman keeps her story upbeat and on track, showing enthusiasm for her ladies even at their most materialistic. This tribute to female friendship tries hard for humor and charm; readers who enjoy the characters' machinations may be reminded of Robert Harling's stage play and film Steel Magnolias. Others may feel that Litman's tale promises more than its shallow characters can deliver. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Female friendship overcomes all obstacles in this sweet, sometimes sassy first novel. Pauline, Della, Kat, and Rita, all in their middle years and either widowed or divorced, share responsibilities and residence at the Ladies Farm, a bed-and-breakfast and retreat in small-town Texas. But when Barbara arrives to stay, several of the women are faced with the problem of how to deal with the widow of the man they all loved. Then there is newly revealed information about ownership of the property, compounded when it turns out that the one woman in whom all the others confided wrote everything in her journals, which pass into the hands of her less-than-scrupulous son after her death. The plot twists and turns through a funeral, a wedding, wheeling and dealing, and attempted blackmail as the women of the Ladies Farm (with a little help from their exes) persevere. A touching tribute to the bonds among women and a good bet for popular fiction collections.ÄMichele Leber, Fairfax Cty. P.L., VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Chapter 1 Oh, joy! thought Della Brewer when Barbara Morrison pulled her red Thunderbird up to the curb in front of the Ladies Farm. My lover's widow come to disturb my life in the country.          Della held her seat on the squeaky glider and concentrated on the Times editorial. She had a deal with Dave Eleston, who was kind of a Methodist ringer, singing in a Fort Worth church choir for their televised early service even though he lived in Sydonia and had never been a Methodist. Della prepared the ads for Dave's Quick Stop, which ran weekly in the Sydonia Tribune. In exchange for this service, Dave brought the New York Times and the Washington Post back from Fort Worth every Sunday morning.          Della thought Dave drove the hour from Sydonia to Fort Worth and back again every Sunday just for the chance to catch a glimpse of Rita, his ex-wife, who operated the hair salon at the Ladies Farm and lived in the room over the solarium. Since divorcing Dave, she had remarried her first husband and only recently re-divorced him. Dave drew encouragement from this and spent as many hours as he could Sunday mornings after church sitting on the Ladies Farm porch, hoping Rita would spend a few minutes with him. But Sunday, as Rita reminded everyone, was the only morning she could sleep late without someone showing up with a hair crisis.          So after Dave had come and gone, Della lounged on the front porch with a carafe of coffee and several pounds of newspapers. Meanwhile, Rita slept, and the others--Pauline and Kat--having awakened early and breakfasted wisely, were out doing something useful. Which meant that Della would have to greet Barbara when she reached the porch.          She didn't care, really. Richard had been dead over a year and, even when he'd been alive, Della had stopped hating Barbara. He stayed with Barbara because he wanted to, Della reminded herself. He wanted to be married to her more than he wanted to be with you.          Okay, maybe she hated Barbara a little.          But who wouldn't? A rich, fat bitch, waddling up the walk in some sort of bronze silk pajamas, the sun glittering off her gold chains. She hadn't even caught on that it wasn't chic anymore to gold-plate the trim on your car. Let alone that really rich people drove a Lexus or BMW, not a Thunderbird, and that those cars were silver or white, not bright red. How could you not hate her?          Barbara looked up at Della on the porch and smiled. "Della, you look gorgeous. How do you do it?"          Della just hated her more. Why shouldn't Barbara be kind? She had everything: the money, the house, the jewelry. She was Richard's widow. Della was only his secret love.          Della smiled and leaned even further into the glider cushions. "Must be the clean country living," she said as she did a quick inventory. Barbara was right about one thing: Della knew she looked much better than Barbara. I'm way thinner, she thought. My skin's smoother. My eyes were always better. And I have the good sense not to make myself up like a circus performer. "Certainly not anything I do on purpose."          Barbara waved her hand to dismiss the comment as false modesty, causing her bracelets to clank. She mounted the two steps and settled with a small groan into the cushioned rattan chair that, with the glider, formed one of the three conversation groupings on the porch.          Tiny eyes, Della thought. Glittering brown buttons surrounded by flesh. In younger days, Barbara's porcelain skin had been set off by a head of shimmering chestnut hair, but even that subtlety had been abandoned for a mass of flaming orange, creating a vivid halo even on the shaded porch. Della rested the paper in her lap, but she did not speak again and a few seconds passed while Barbara settled in.          She's staying, thought Della as she smoothed her denim skirt. She's burrowing.          "So," Barbara resumed the conversation. "What's new with you?"          Della could not remember Barbara visiting the Ladies Farm. She must have visited Pauline and Hugh long ago, Della mused, when Hugh was still alive. But after Hugh died and Richard, in the role of concerned friend, asked Della and Kat to see if they could help Pauline turn the struggling bed and breakfast around, Barbara had not visited Sydonia. Of course, that was when Della and Richard became more than the coupled-up, PTA and Cub-Scouting friends they had been when their children were young; maybe Richard had discouraged his wife in some way from intruding upon this good deed that he and Della were performing together.          "Nothing's new," Della said evenly, warming with her memories. "That's why I live out here. So life can go on undisturbed, day after day." She smiled. Richard used to tell her that her smile lit up her eyes. Even now, especially now, she knew they were her best feature.          Annoyance flickered across Barbara's face, then she returned the smile. "Life here agrees with you," she said. "How's Pauline? And Kat?"          "Out and out. But fine, of course." Excerpted from The Ladies' Farm by Viqui Litman All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.