The American south has produced some of the greatest writers in history. Seated at the head of that table is Lee Smith, who writes with ferocity and detail, tenderness and specificity about life in the mountains of southwest Virginia and eastern Tennessee. In Guests on Earth, something altogether new and different, Ms. Smith takes a trip down the road a-piece to Asheville, NC, where she solves the mystery of the death of Zelda Fitzgerald through the prism of a beguiling narrator, Evalina, who bore witness to the tragedy and lived to tell her version of the events. Zelda comes alive in madness and grace as a wife, mother, novelist, and painter in this inventive, wholly original take on history. This is Lee Smith at her powerful best, writing the south she knows through the eyes of a woman who lived it.
—Adriana Trigiani, author of Big Stone Gap and The Shoemaker’s Daughter
Treading the fine line between sanity and insanity, this historical novel imagines the 12 years proceeding the 1948 fire that engulfed a North Carolina mental hospital and killed F. Scott Fitzgerald’s estranged wife, Zelda.
– Ms. Magazine
With this book, Smith will broaden her readership to draw in those fascinated by the Fitzgerald ethos while entertaining her perennial fans with the local lore and down home accents behind the scenes.
Engaging . . . Touching.
Perennially best-selling Smith presents an impeccably researched historical novel that reveals the early twentieth century’s antediluvian attitudes toward mental health and women’s independence.
In Guests on Earth Lee Smith gives evidence again of the grace and insight that distinguish her work. Her characters are realized with singular intensity, the most vivid interior life, and flawless dialogue. Reading Lee Smith ranks among the great pleasures of American fiction.
—Robert Stone, author of Death of the Black-Haired Girl and Dog Soldiers