On page two of A Woman Called Fancy, Frank Yerby tells us that Fancy is the first Williamson in seven generations to learn to read and write — and that she is entirely self taught. If you can swallow that, you’ll think this novel is peachy keen.
Fancy is a raven-haired knockout with a bodice begging to be ripped. She flees her Carolina hills home in 1880 at the age of 19 rather than marry a 65-year-old farmer.
In Atlanta, Fancy is pursued by dastardly Duke Ellis, politican Jed Hawkins, and snake-oil salesman Wyche Weathers. Weathers gives her a job dancing in his sideshow.
Appearances to the contrary, Fancy is a woman of virtue, intellect, and moral purity, according to Yerby. She’s not over-strict about killing, but she draws the line at marrying without love.
Fancy oves temperamental, self-centered, arrogant Courtney Brantley, who also happens to be in love with his brother’s wife. She sobers him up long enough to marry her.
When Court realizes there’s not a stitch ripped in Fancy’s bodice that he didn’t rip himself, he’s in jail for murder. Of course, Fancy fixes even that.
Poor Yerby has given readers Fancy, when they required Plausible.A Woman Called Fancy
By Frank Yerby
Dial Press, 1951
My grade C+
© 2011 Linda Gorton Aragoni