Lowcountry Summer by Dorothea Benton Frank
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition
Publish Date: March 29, 2011
Paperback, 384 pages
When I accepted a copy to review of Lowcountry Summer, I had never read anything by Dorothea Benton Frank and did not realize that the book was seventh in a series of Lowcountry Tales. It truly didn't matter because the storyline doesn't require that you have a long history of Ms. Frank's characters.
Since Scarlett O'Hara, I have been a fan of saucy southern belles who have more brains than all the men around them put together. Frank's heroine, Caroline Wimbly Levine, has all that and more. While Scarlett's libido was carefully hidden behind hoop skirts and bonnets, Caroline's sexual appetite is full face, front and center. Very much aware of her waning youth, here on page one is Caroline's lament:
But, darlin', when your years creep north of thirty, your assessing eye blinks, drifts to the past to scan your scorecard because your future is pretty much a foregone conclusion. Or is it? Surely by forty, you should know who you are and how well you are doing with your life. At least you hope you'll have life under control by then.
Frank obviously knows her south - specifically South Carolina. Her characters are a loving creation by someone quite steeped in the southern genteel old manners and traditions, but with a wicked twist of the present day liberated woman.
The first chapter opens with a small family gathering at the Tall Pines Plantation. Caroline's only child, Eric, is very reserved about his new girlfriend, who also already has a young child. Not her personal choice of mates for adored Eric. Her brother,Trip, and his wife, Fannie Mae, are separated, which tends to secretly please Caroline - her sister-in-law is not her favorite relative. Fannie Mae is an embarrassing drunk and not a fit mother to raise daughters. These nieces are out of control and Caroline is still dealing with the death of her mother, the queen matriarch, Miss Lavinia. Family drama ensues. Trying to fill her mother's famous shoes is something Caroline has to get a grip on and she starts trying to set her family on a more proper path. Needless to say, there are all sorts of obstacles, some humorous, some sad, that Caroline has to overcome.
Here's a quick video of the author in her own words about Lowcountry:
While Lowcountry Summer will never sit on the same shelf as Gone With the Wind, it is a quick and fun read, perfect for lazy days on the back patio or the beach. Fix yourself a nice cold Mimosa and visit a spell with the dysfunctional Tall Pines folks. No heavy lifting required.
*Harper Collins also has a widget that allows you to track your favorite author. The link above is for Dorothea Benton Frank, but you can search their site for your own choice and complete the box to be notified when something new is available from your favorite authors. (Scroll down the page and look to the right side bars.)