"An American beauty this book . . . The narrator of Jane Hamilton's sensational first novel is a holy lusty innocent."
"Ms. Hamilton gives Ruth a humble dignity and allows her hope —but it's not a heavenly hope. It's a common one, caked with mud and held with gritted teeth. And it's probably the only kind that's worth reading about."
—NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW
"Hamilton's story builds to a shocking crescendo. Her small-town characters are as appealingly offbeat and brushed with grace as any found in Alice Hoffman's or Anne Tyler's novels."
"Jane Hamilton's novel is authentically Dickensian . . . The real achievement of this first novel is not so much the blackness as the suggestion of resilience. At the end, Ruth begins to put together her shattered body, spirit and life. Her words are awkward, as they have been all along, but suddenly and unexpectedly they shine.
—LOS ANGELES TIMES