In The Barrenness, Lewis tells the story of Lil, a successful Porsche-driving executive, in fictional Riverview, Georgia. When the childless aunt who raised her dies, Lil returns to the tiny rural town where she grew up, to take care of her aunt’s final wishes. There she becomes embroiled in a bitter battle with her late aunt’s stepson, over who should rightfully inherit the house where Lil grew up, but in which the stepson now lives.
As this story unfolds, Lil is faced with her own ticking clock as she acknowledges her aunt’s sadness at never having children of her own. Lil has always expected to have children, but as she nears 40, she realizes it’s now or never. The problem is that the one man who holds any possibility – the delicious Danny Hatcher – has a teenage stepdaughter and no desire for more children. Now Lil must decide where her priorities lie, and if motherhood is something she is willing to fight for.
The Barrenness mixes family drama with romping romance, all with the undercurrent of Lil’s desire for motherhood and the decision she must soon make. Lewis’s talent lies in her vivid portrayal of life in The South and the rich characters she brings to life, from Aunt Mamie with her no nonsense lilting drawl to the villain, Will, and his nasty street talk. Lewis turns the spotlight on the pressure many women feel to squeeze through the window of fertility before it closes for good.