The female characters of novelist Clyde Edgerton represent a variety of points of view for women in the South today. The characters in these novels are examples of different social and political attitudes, and Edgerton often points up what he sees as the self-centered and foolish nature of these views. Edgerton makes his characters real, in terms of both their dialogue and their behavior. These women are strong and make themselves known in what is more commonly seen as a man's world.
Edgerton's ability to write women characters has been praised by critics and readers, and Edgerton himself has noted his view of why this is so:
I've been very satisfied to know that women who read the book believe that the voice sounds authentic. In our inner lives there are perhaps fewer differences between men and women than we sometimes think. . . growing up with women, listening to stories more or less subconsciously, contributed by my writing from a woman's point of view. I do not find it difficult (Robbins 61).
Edgerton has also cited as his literary inspiration Eudora Welty, another woman whose voice he respected:
The tone of her voice and the gentle, thorough humor in the story ["Why I Love at the P.O." by Eudora Welty] combined in a way that motivated me. People in Eudora Welty and Flannery O'Connor were people I know (Miller 35).
Edgerton's first novel, Raney, featured the sort of woman he would cope with in many of his works, and he had first created the character in two short stories before he decided she would be the ideal subject for a novel:
She was Raney Bell Shepherd: a small-town Free Will Baptist, narrow-minded, unapologetic, fiercely loyal to her family, but somehow lovable because of her bouncy personality and common-sense approach to life. Raney, Edgerton realized, was a strong character--strong enough to be the narrator of her own book--because she was a voice from his childhood, where women were the prin...