Cover image for At home in Covington
Title:
At home in Covington
Author:
Medlicott, Joan A. (Joan Avna)
Edition:
First Atria Books hardcover edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Atria Books, 2004.
Physical Description:
309 pages : map ; 24 cm
Language:
English
Geographic Term:
ISBN:
9780743470391
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

In this eagerly awaited new installment in Joan Medlicott's USA Today bestselling series, sadness gives way to new joys as the unforgettable Ladies of Covington -- Hannah, Grace, and Amelia -- deal with daily life in their small mountain town. Troubles have laid a dark cloud over the usually cheery farmhouse of the three ladies. Grace is grieving over the loss of someone dear to her, and then a mysterious diary from the past turns Hannah's life upside down, destroying her peace of mind. To raise everybody's spirits, Amelia suggests they take an exotic Caribbean cruise. Though they return with many wonderful stories to share, living in such close quarters has increased the brewing conflict between Amelia and Hannah. When Amelia leaves for a photography workshop in Maine, she's unsure if she'll want to continue living in their farmhouse afterward -- or if Hannah will still be there, since Max is pressing her to set a wedding date. Grace learns more than she wants to about modern dangers as her young protégé, Lucy, becomes involved with an internet predator, and the ladies and their friends all rally to the rescue. When Grace lands in the hospital shortly afterward, though, she realizes she can no longer hide behind the dramas of everyday life, but must face her diabetes head on. Yet new joy enters their lives when Hannah's daughter has a baby boy, increasing their extended family. And when Hannah finally lays her past to rest, she's able to set a wedding date with Max, giving them all cause to rejoice. With warmth and charm, this straight-to-the-heart celebration of female friendship will inspire and delight readers whether they're meeting these three strong and wonderful women for the first time, or renewing their acquaintance with the ladies and their friends.


Reviews 1

Booklist Review

Grace, Hannah, and Amelia are back in the fifth installment of the Covington series: The Ladies of Covington Send Their Love 0 (2000), The Gardens of Covington 0 (2001) , From the Heart of Covington 0 (2002), The Spirit of Covington0 BKL S 1 03. These three open-minded older ladies have a strong following, and readers who avidly await their newest trials and successes will not be disappointed. Included are all the small soap-opera traumas readers expect. Grace's son's partner dies from AIDS. Hannah is haunted by her past and has a spiritual revelation. Amelia leaves for a photography workshop in Maine. Hannah and Amelia continue to bicker, and Grace continues to battle diabetes. At times the friends seem estranged, but, as in the previous books, all ends well and their friendships remain strong. The truth is, the writing is stilted and the plot underdeveloped, but readers are so enamored with the world of Covinginton they simply do not care because they find Medlicott's books cozy and comforting. --Neal Wyatt Copyright 2004 Booklist


Excerpts

Excerpts

Chapter One: Dust Thou Art The wind moaned as it skirted the white clapboard wall of Cove Road Church and snaked between the headstones in the small cemetery, tweaking women's coats and burrowing with stealthy fingers between men's gloves and wrists. December, with its biting wind and gray, dreary days, is the most depressing time for a funeral, Amelia Declose thought, as she hugged her ankle-length coat more tightly about her slender body. Without the cashmere coat and the wool scarf draped about her head and wound about her neck, she could not have stood here under this cheerless sky as old Pastor Johnson droned on. Finally she heard the words "Dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return." Fitting that he would use those words, since Charles, as he'd wished, had been cremated, and a small marble urn had been consigned to the earth. Amelia felt Grace slip her arm through hers, felt her friend's body shiver through the thickness of their coats. Grace was crying, and why not? Grace had loved Charles, her son Roger's longtime companion. Charles had been kind and generous, sensitive and caring of Grace. Amelia looked across the grave at Roger. Tall and somber, eyes shaded by dark glasses, Roger's handsome face was pained, his lips compressed. Standing slightly apart from Roger, their housemate, Hannah Parrish, stoic as ever, stared into the distance. At seventy-five, the salt in her salt-and-pepper hair had superceded the pepper, resulting not in the white of freshly fallen snow, like Amelia's hair, but the time-worn white much like the patches of week-old snow that clung to the hillside beyond. It was over now. The small party of mourners moved silently, slowly across the road and toward the ladies' farmhouse. Most of their friends and neighbors had not known Charles but had come out of respect for Grace. Grace tucked one arm into that of her companion, Bob Richardson, and the other into Roger's. She could feel the heaviness, the sadness deep within her son, could feel his loss. Her legs, columns of ice, resisted her will to reach the farmhouse before the others, to remove covers from the platters of food she had prepared with the help of Laura, Hannah's pregnant daughter. Laura hadn't asked if she were needed. She had simply walked into the farmhouse kitchen, studied Grace for a moment, and rolled up her sleeves. Grace was grateful, and she looked with affection at the young woman who strode ahead of the others, pressing close to her husband, Hank Brinkley. Grace stopped trying to force herself to move faster. Laura and Hank could handle everything. On a steamy August night more than a year ago, the ladies' farmhouse and two other homes on the east side of Cove Road had burned to the ground. This disaster had ultimately proved to be a blessing, for in rebuilding the ladies gained a new, modern kitchen, an additional bedroom, and two bathrooms, which left the living room and dining room smaller but, as Amelia said, "cozier." On this day, as the mourners crowded into the living room, Laura, Amelia, and Hank passed platters of food and cups of spiced cider. Grace sat quietly on the couch next to Roger, who seemed uncomfortable among the crush of people, accepting condolences. Grace was tired, bone tired, from the last few weeks of supporting Roger and from the pain of watching Charles fade and die. She craved privacy and wished she could sneak upstairs to lie down and rest, but she couldn't leave her son. Instead, she smiled politely for what seemed like hours, and joined Roger in thanking the neighbors for coming. Hannah separated herself from a group and walked over to Grace. "You all right?" she asked. "You look exhausted. Shall I shoo everyone off?" "No. Thanks. It wouldn't be right. The Herrills and Craines didn't even know Roger and Charles, and they were kind enough to come." * * * Three weeks ago Roger, devastated and sobbing, had phoned her with the news of Charles's rapidly deteriorating condition. Grace placed her life on hold. With her heart in her mouth, for she had sworn never to fly again, she flew to Branston, Pennsylvania, to take her place beside the hospice team involved in Charles's care. Her contribution had been emotional support, and she had given Charles every ounce of love and energy she possessed. When she had arrived and appeared in the doorway of his room, he smiled and his eyes lit with pleasure. "Mother Singleton, bless you for coming." Tears had streamed down her cheeks as she moved toward him and took the chair alongside his bed. Grace closed her eyes for a moment, remembering how she had held Charles's hand and listened to his regrets and the guilt he felt for the one infidelity that had brought AIDS into his life. As ever, his concern was for Roger. "What will Roger do when I'm gone? He's really much softer than he lets on, Mother Singleton," Charles said in a barely audible voice. "I know, Charles, dear, I know." But did she really? There were times when she felt she hardly knew her son. She leaned closer to Charles and recognized the look and smell of death. It had been like this with her husband, Ted. "We'll all be there for Roger." "I know you will. We bought that condo in Covington when I began to get sick. We used to say we'd retire there." His clenched fist hit the bedcovers. "I was daft to think I could beat this horrible disease." He lifted an arm so thin and frail she refrained from holding him for fear of hurting him. She took his hand, all bone and blue and black with contusions from the needles in the hospital. "We all make mistakes. We do the best we can." "I'm not afraid of dying now that the pain's under control," he said. "I can't help wondering if I'll see a light. I remember when I read War and Peace -- Did you read it?" Grace nodded. "When Prince Andre died, he saw light and felt peace, remember?" "Yes, I do." "I couldn't finish the novel after Prince Andre died," Charles said. "Didn't much care what happened to the rest of them. Will I see the light, or angels, or my granny, do you think? Will Granny be there waiting for me?" "I think she will be." "You really think so?" "I do," Grace replied. His face grew calmer. "I do, too." He slept then. The following day, when they were alone, Charles had asked, "Do you forgive me?" "Forgive you? There's nothing to forgive. Life is life," Grace said. "We have our share of joys and sorrows. I love you, Charles. You're like a son to me. I'll miss you more than you can imagine." "You've been more a mum to me than my own mum." He closed his lids over sunken eyes. Under hollow cheeks, a wisp of a smile hovered about his lips. His body was shutting down. His shoulders and elbows were all bone, his chest concave. He was eating less each day. No one, she thought, should suffer as he had suffered before hospice took charge and medicated him to keep the pain at bay. Bob, who had assumed the role of host, tapped her shoulder, pulling her from her memories. "Grace, the Herrills are leaving. Come say good-bye." Grace rose to her feet. Bob offered his arm, and they walked with Charlie and Velma Herrill to the door. "We're here if you need us, Grace," Velma said. "Thank you so very much for coming. It was a great comfort," Grace replied. She meant it. She and Hannah and Amelia had not always been welcome in this rural area of the world, until the fire that had destroyed their home and those of the Herrills and the Craines had linked them all. Bob shut the door behind their guests. "I haven't even offered anyone a drink," Grace said, passing her hand across her forehead. "Laura and Hank handled it all splendidly," Bob said. "I'm so sorry to have burdened Laura. She's six months into her pregnancy." "Molly, Brenda, Amelia, Tyler -- they all pitched in." "I feel as if I haven't slept in weeks," Grace said. When she did sleep, she dreamed of Charles, his eyes huge in the sockets of his pale, sunken face. She would awaken feeling the grip of his fingers, stripped of flesh, on her arm. "No more dreams like this," she prayed. "I want to remember Charles as the smiling, optimistic man he was." Long ago, when Roger had first told her that he was gay, confirming long-held, unspoken suspicions, and when he had brought Charles home to meet her and his father, how upset and grieved she had been -- upset because of what people might think and grieved because Roger was her only child and she would have no grandchildren. But Charles was a fine man, and she had come to love him dearly. Now he was gone. Grace shook her head, shook away the memory of his dying, and heard again the chatter of voices in the living room. "Bob," she said, turning to look up at him. Never far from her side today, Bob leaned forward, his lips brushing her cheek, his hands gently resting on her shoulders. "I'm here, Grace. I'm right here." She reached up to touch his large, gentle hands. Her fingers played with the hair on his knuckles. It was one of the first things she had noticed about him, his gentle hands, and his eyes, brown as chestnuts and kind. Bob's son Russell moved toward them with his son, Tyler, tagging along beside him. Tyler was almost fourteen and still fighting that ornery cowlick that topped his red hair. Grace leaned forward, clasped him to her, and held him hard until he murmured in her ear, "I can't breathe, Granny Grace." She laughed then and released him. In loving Bob she had gained a whole new surrogate family and a grandson. "You look like you feel icky, Granny Grace," Tyler said. "I'm hot, but it will pass. Everyone will be gone soon, and I'll take a nice, cool shower." "I could get you a cold cloth for your head," Tyler said. The Craines -- Alma, Frank, and one of their sons, Timmie -- strode toward them. "Thanks for the eatin's. You take care now. Anything we can do, y'all just call us," Alma said. Alma, the Cove Road gossip, the one who had most snubbed them, was eager now to be friends. "Thank you all for coming," Grace said, clasping Alma's outstretched hand. Copyright © 2004 by Joan Medlicott Excerpted from At Home in Covington by Joan Medlicott 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.