At 82, [Godwin] is still challenging herself and us. Her latest book is a richly layered novel based on a lifetime of reflection on friendship and storytelling. In a culture obsessed with youth, it’s a welcome reminder that age and wisdom can confer certain advantages, too ... Godwin writes women’s fiction that deconstructs the condescending presumptions of that label. Her new book is a brilliant example of the way she can don even the most ladylike concerns while working through issues of independence, power and artistic integrity ... This campus, with its overlay of Southern evasiveness, is tempting grounds for satire, but Godwin has something more complex in mind. She’s created these genteel administrators in such fullness that they exemplify Lovegood’s noble values even as they take pleasure in their own slightly parodic performance ... the story travels nimbly through an enormous swath of American history, while remaining grounded in the particular experiences of these women who would seem to have nothing in common ... an extraordinary novel about the nature of those rare friendships that fade for long periods of time only to rekindle in an instant when the conditions are right again.
Godwin, a word-perfect novelist of exceptional psychological refinement who has published a memoir about her struggles as a writer, infuses this tale of intrepid women with a profound inquiry into the ethics of storytelling and how literature can chart a way through tragedies ... The women remain connected in delectably plotted ways and maintain a suspenseful, decades-long correspondence. Secret traumas are slowly revealed, adjacent characters are magnetizing, and Godwin, as fluent in humor as in sorrow, sagely illuminates matters of faith, art, ambition, and generosity while celebrating change and steadfastness, friendship and love ... Godwin’s mastery and following grow with each book, and literary fiction lovers will seek out this intricately structured and emotionally rich tale.
Godwin is a splendid storyteller whose tales are richly layered ... This engrossing and accomplished novel about women’s friendship is filled with a score of lively minor characters, from Lovegood’s benevolent matchmaking headmistress to Merry’s stoic (and, as it turns out, painfully secretive) farm foreman and later husband. Old Lovegood Girls is a fine, old-fashioned women’s novel in the tradition Gail Godwin did so much to create.