Sunday, May 15, 2011

Southern Lit. Pick of the Week: Low Country Summer by Dorothea Benton Frank

A few weeks ago, I received a copy of Low Country Summer (the paperback release - originally released as hardcover last summer) to review. I have enjoyed Dorothea Benton Frank’s work for many years, so this was an extra special arrival. Her books are synonymous with summer and escape. The arrival of Low Country Summer was coincidentally timed to go right along with me on Spring Break (no complaints!)

This long awaited sequel to Frank’s earlier work, Plantation (2001), picks up with Caroline Wimbly Levine on her 47 birthday and a cast of dysfunctional Southern family members. We get to go along for the ride as she takes on the role of family matriarch, one recently vacated by her bigger than life Southern Mama, Miss Lavinia. Although Miss Lavinia has “gone to glory” she is still quite present in spirit and in the minds of her children and the residents in and around Tall Pines Plantation in the South Carolina Low Country. Many times I often expected Caroline Wimbly to proudly don a rubber bracelet imprinted with WWMLD (What Would Miss Lavinia Do?) Caroline deals with her man-child brother, his drunken red-neck wife, 4 near feral nieces, her son’s love affair with an older woman, and her own romantic entanglements sometimes more gracefully than others. Not to mention, she has to step in and keep the family moving after a sudden tragedy takes one of their own.

Low Country Summer is filled with the sounds and smells of the South Carolina marshes complete with little tastes of the Gullah culture for good measure. You will find yourself pulled in to all the drama and will come to see how the Wimbly family put the “fun” in dysfunctional. At the end of this book you won’t want to leave Tall Pines and you will be longing for a low country summer of your own.

The paperback release of Low Country Summer comes just weeks before the release of Franks’ latest book, Folly Beach, which promises to be a great summer read:

Home is the place that knows us best. . . .A woman returns to the past to find her future in this enchanting new tale of loss, acceptance, family, and love.

With its sandy beaches and bohemian charms, surfers and suits alike consider Folly Beach to be one of South Carolina's most historic and romantic spots. It is also the land of Cate Cooper's childhood, the place where all the ghosts of her past roam freely. Cate never thought she'd wind up in this tiny cottage named the Porgy House on this breathtakingly lovely strip of coast. But circumstances have changed, thanks to her newly dead husband whose financial—and emotional—bull and mendacity have left Cate homeless, broke, and unmoored.

Yet Folly Beach holds more than just memories. Once upon a time another woman found unexpected bliss and comfort within its welcoming arms. An artist, writer, and colleague of the revered George Gershwin, Dorothy Heyward enjoyed the greatest moments of her life at Folly with her beloved husband, DuBose. And though the Heywards are long gone, their passion and spirit lingers in every mango sunset and gentle ocean breeze.

And for Cate, Folly, too, holds the promise of unexpected fulfillment when she is forced to look at her life and the zany characters that are her family anew. To her surprise, she will discover that you can go home again. Folly Beach doesn't just hold the girl she once was . . . it also holds the promise of the woman she's always wanted—and is finally ready—to become. “ Harper Collins, 2011.
This post was written as a member of the Southern Mommas Writers

6 comments:

Sundresses and Smiles said...

I read my first Frank book this fall-- Sullivan's Island and really enjoyed it. I will definitely be reading more of her work this summer!

Paula said...

I love Dorothea Benton Frank's style of writing, and look forward to reading the sequel to Plantation. Will also want to read her latest, thanks for the update! (When I finally got to Charleston and environs on my first trip to S.C., I felt there was so much familiar for me to see, having come to know so many landmarks from Frank's books...)

Ruth said...

I love her books.

Paula said...

I can't wait to read both of the DBF books this summer! Thanks for letting us know about them.

Carolan Ivey said...

I love books with recipes! I'll have to check out Dorothea's books. :)

Rebecca said...

Dot Frank is one of my favorite authors. I've read all her books and adore every one. I pre ordered Folly Beach as soon as I could. It will be my beach read next month.