Alison's Automotive Repair Manual: A Novel

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9780312291389: Alison's Automotive Repair Manual: A Novel
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A widow in her mid thirties, Alison has been in mourning for two years. She lives with her sister and brother-in-law in West Virginia, and they are urging her to get on with her life and move back home. Alison promises to leave--just as soon as she renovates a nearly-ruined 1976 Corvette rusting in their garage. Problem is, she doesn't know the first thing about cars, and the fact that the townspeople (with the exception of a cute demolition man) are bewildered by a woman messing with automotive parts does not help.

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Alison lives in a small West Virginia town with her sister and brother-in-law. As Alison's Automotive Repair Manual opens, her main occupation is mourning her husband, who died in an accident two years ago. Her sister, her friends, and her former boss at the community college have all grown weary of her grief, and beg her to move on. But Alison is paralyzed, maybe partially because she wasn't all that crazy about her husband in the first place. One day she discovers a disintegrating 1976 Corvette in her sister's garage and finally thinks of something she'd like to do: repair the Vette. Alison knows nothing about cars, but pegs away at her project anyhow, knowing all the while that "the whole thing was folly." Meanwhile, we follow her healing, her new love for a munitions expert named Max, her sister's quest to get pregnant, and the (literal) exposure of the town's secret history. While Alison is an appealingly complex character, forever stumbling into gaffes, the book is a little too neat, with its themes, goals, and love interests laid out tidily in the first 40 pages. But fans of quirky Southerners such as Jill McCorkle will find a sympathetic new voice here. --Claire Dederer

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Praise for Alison's Automotive Repair Manual

"Underline this writer as one whose work needs to be on your shelf. You will be much the better for it." ---Mississippi Clarion-Ledger

"It will remind readers of the best of Eudora Welty. . . . Delightful." ---Richmond Times-Dispatch

"An enriching fable . . . Heartwarming." ---Boston Herald

"Beguiling and utterly original, Alison's Automotive Repair Manual is a modern fable of love and community." ---Lee Smith, author of The Last Girls

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Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin, 2004
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