Ivy Rowe is raised in an isolated mountain home, with stories and fantasies of love, which lead her to believe that life outside of Sugar Fork is a fairyland, like in the books she has read. Despite her hardships, Ivy always chooses to view the starkness of reality romantically which exemplifies her lovelorn tendencies. In the novel, Ivy finds different kinds of love, each reflecting her life at the time. Throughout Lee Smith's Fair and Tender Ladies romance plays a very important part in Ivy's life.
Ivy's first experience with love occurs when she is living in Majestic, and becomes infatuated with Lonnie Rash, and he with her. This relationship exists mostly on a hormonal level, as she repeats that she does not really love him (106 - 108). The immaturity of their relationship is underscored by how she "write[s] his name over and over on everything," with flowers around it, like a school-girl, and her not wanting to make any major commitments with him even when he proposes marriage.
Despite the fact that Ivy's relationship with Lonnie never reached an emotional level, it was still Ivy's first experience with the joys and pains of love. Lonnie remained important to her till the day she died, remembering "Lonnie Rash, the day her left for war (316)."
After Ivy was impregnated by Lonnie, she learned of a new love: that of the maternal sense. Throughout her pregnancy with Joli, Ivy writes excited letters about "when Joli comes I will talk to her (137)," and that she, "will raise her so good up on Diamond Mountain (125)." Later, she declares Joli to be "the most beautiful baby in the world (138)." Throughout the rest of her live, Ivy writes to all of her children regularly,
especially Joli. All of this blatantly...