Miss Woman

Ann Vaughan Richards


Miss Woman appears one rainy day, and she raises her second-story apartment window above the Victoria Thrift Store. In this sleepy Southern town, she belts out the blues to the accompaniment of an upright piano. Not just the blues, but "deep, low down, gut wrenching blues. Mad Dog blues. Memphis Blues, Don’t Care Blues, You Can Have I Don’t Want Him Didn’t Love Him Anyway Blues." And the result? Someone takes a shotgun and blows off the top of Glenna Bledsole’s head.

On our way to unraveling the mystery with the narrator, a divorcee renewing a long-gone high school affair with the town’s chief of police, we encounter Southern grotesques so disarming that their grotesquerie develops into a part of us. It’s as if C. G. Jung told us to sit down and read this book, always noting that . . . Ahem, doesn’t she remind you of yourself? And look at that old guy living in a trailer with his mutt . . . wouldn’t a part of you enjoy doing that? And Glenna Bledsole? Well even if you do agree that her head should have been blown off, or at least given a good two-by-four, attention-getting whack, hmm, doesn’t her anger and righteousness pull a slender, familiar thread?

By the time we reach the novel’s end, we realize that Glenna Bledsole’s death was just one of many mysteries involved—including Miss Woman’s identity.

ISBN 0-942979-77-X, paper, $12.95           Sale $6.50

ISBN 0-942979-78-8, cloth, $26.00              Sale $13.00

About the Author: 

This is Ann Vaughan Richards’ first novel.




 Excerpt From the Book:

     Miss Woman sang the blues. Deep, low down, gut wrenching blues. Mad Dog Blues, Memphis Blues, Don’t Care Blues, You Can Have Him I Don’t Want Him Didn’t Love Him Anyhow Blues. And the words and notes floated out over the courthouse square in the sweltering month of June. They bounced off the plate glass store windows and rolled down the alleys. Wailing, moaning, misery-loving blues.
    And the flowing well kept on flowing, absorbing the notes and spewing them back, gurgling and foaming, into the algae encrusted pool. Whining, crying, Man Done Me Wrong Blues. The hot asphalt sucked up the melodies and steamed them skyward into the sweating fly-swatting air. And the air did its best to beat the lyrics back down with its heavy sweet breath until they hung in limbo, trapped between the weary cracked roof tiles and the gum-clogged drains. And there they hung, swinging back and forth, seesawing to the left and veering to the right. Throbbing, thumping, Ain’t It a Crying Shame Blues. Groaning low, spiraling high, Miss Woman sang the blues.
    Miss Woman suddenly appeared—full blown and grown—sitting sassy and big as life at an upright piano on the top floor and right above the Victoria Thrift Store. Right in our midst she materialized, a strange and alien presence, a lush and fanciful image. Plucked out of the heavy honeysuckle air, she was there. One day, we were a normal small town. We made axe handles, we worked in the sewing factory, we bought pork chops, we brushed our teeth and ran our stores. We conducted our lives with normal, everyday, small town decency. We were doing fine, thank you. Not great, but fine, just fine. The next day, she was there, sitting in front of the open window of the top floor and right above the Victoria Thrift Store, playing her heart out and singing the blues in a rich chocolate voice. And then, we were not so fine. Because on the first day of June, it was hot and she was there.