"Old Lovegood Girls"

Gail Goodwin’s book, “Old Lovegood Girls” refers to the main characters in this novel about lifelong friendship. In 1958, two young women entering Lovegood College meet and remain in each other’s lives until the death of one 41 years later. At first the roommates, Feron and Merry, seem to have little in common, but they immediately forge a lasting connection.

Feron comes from an unsettled, secretive background fraught with sadness and abuse. She sometimes quietly resents the ease with which Merry seems to adjust to new surroundings. Merry is part of a loving family that owns a renowned tobacco North Carolina plantation. Feron, wary and reserved, admires Merry’s outgoing, generous nature.

The girls spend only one semester together before a family tragedy prevents them from continuing their education together. Although their paths don’t cross often in the coming years, each feels influenced by the other because of things that are said and shared, and specifically from mutual observations and remarks about each other’s writings.

Feron and Merry become published writers and reunite in New York, where Feron lives, when Merry is scheduled to meet with a publisher from the city. The two friends’ jobs require them to work during the day and write in the evening. Feron works at a publishing company, and Merry is the sole proprietor and CEO of the tobacco plantation.

Their natures have not changed over the years. Merry remains optimistic and kind, and Feron remains competitive, a trait that’s quite obvious. Merry is accepting and remains Feron’s friend, even when Feron uses parts of Merry’s own story in a well-received book that’s made into a film.

What the women do have in common is their power to overcome the betrayal and deep personal wounds they suffer during their adult years. They have an inner strength that enables them to adapt to changes with unusual fortitude and resilience.

Women who have maintained attachments with other women through the years will relate to the bond between Feron and Merry. In spite of only seeing each other intermittently through the years, they have the capacity to maintain a friendship that allows them to respect each other’s decisions and mistakes. They accept and recognize the help and love they need from each other when stressful times arise.

Gail Godwin is a prolific author who writes of real life with grace and insight. Fans are sure to enjoy her newest.