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Flights of Angels

Ellen Gilchrist’s domain in Flights of Angels is the American South: the heady, scented Mississippi Gulf coast; the sleepy, remote Ozarks; and New Orleans, in all its tawdry splendor. Within these settings, people act on love, compassion, rage, and frustration, with nary a cloying whit of sentimentality. Gilchrist’s characters, many of them recurring frequently throughout her novels and short stories, are blessed with very human faults and an irrepressible exuberance for life. The men tend to be supporting players — sometimes gentle, sometimes absent. It’s the women who shine here, as they cope with dying patriarchs, aging playboys, children and drugs, racial violence, afternoon affairs, and holiday flings in France. A

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