Rhonda Johnson
October 25, 1996 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Hand I Fan With

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Tina McElroy Ansa
publisher
Doubleday
genre
Fiction

We gave it a B

Tina McElroy Ansa’s third novel, The Hand I Fan With, returns to the fictional African-American community that was the setting of her critically acclaimed Baby of the Family and Ugly Ways. Her exuberant prose mixes Southern small-town realism with folk magic in the story of Lena McPherson, a successful 45-year-old businesswoman who falls in love with a 100-year-old ghost named Herman. But the engaging tale is hampered by Ansa’s clunky construction. Her bloated narrative spends close to 200 pages just setting up Herman’s appearance, and another 200 describing his and Lena’s supernatural love affair. The spectre of unrealized potential haunts this novel like Herman haunts Lena. B

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