Ever since my trip to South Carolina, I have been into reading books about the Lowcountry. Dorothea Benton Frank has written a few books based around the Lowcountry, and I have read 3 of them so far and have loved them all!
The first book I read was Sullivan's Island. This book follows the story of Susan, who has just caught her husband cheating on her, and follows her story of dealing with her ex-husband and going through a divorce, her daughter who is not only dealing with typical teenage things but also the breakup of her family, having to date for the first time in way too many years, and to top it all off, a mediocre job with a creepy co-worker. She begins her process of healing by making many visits to see her sister who lives in their childhood home on Sullivan’s Island. They have such a great bond together that they are almost like best friends, but they still have that bond of being sisters.
What I liked most about this book was that it not only focused on Susan’s present story, it also discussed her past growing up on Sullivan’s Island. Some of my favorite parts were the chapters that talked about her past growing up with a housekeeper who taught the kids all about the Gullah culture (which for those of you who don’t know is an African American culture from the Lowcountry region of South Carolina and Georgia). I had never even heard about the Gullah culture until this book, but thought it was kind of fascinating.
Return to Sullivan’s Island
The second book I read was of course the Return to Sullivan’s Island. This book was actually about Susan’s daughter, Beth, who after graduating college is asked by her family to spend a year living at the family’s house on Sullivan’s Island while the family takes off in different directions. At first Beth is not interested in spending a year alone on the island, and feels like she is putting her life on hold. She soon begins to love being back at home on the island, and being still young and carefree, gets into a little trouble during this time.
This book had a little more younger-feel since it was focused on a college graduate-aged main character. It was still a good read, but had a little more of a 20-something chick-lit type feel than the first book. It was also a little predictable, which I won’t really go into because I don’t want to ruin the story.
I just finished this book last week, and I think it was my favorite of the 3. This book’s main character is Caroline, who is living on the plantation that she grew up on, with her brother living next door. She is divorced, with a son in college, and is currently enjoying her flings with several men from around the town.
The only problem in her life at the moment is worrying about her son who she finds out later is dating an older woman while away at college. That is until her brother’s estranged wife almost kills her youngest daughter (Caroline’s niece) in a car accident in which she was driving drunk. Caroline, with the help of a few friends, has a “come to Jesus” moment with her brother and forces him to take charge of his 4 girls, and send his estranged wife to rehab to get better. The story then focuses on dealing with these 4 girls, 2 of them who are out of control themselves, and all of the changes that this now does to the family.
Caroline is just a fun character to follow. She can be really sweet, but she can also hold her ground, all while wearing pearls and being Martha Stewart picture-perfect. I also like her brother’s live-in girlfriend, Rusty who is super sweet and takes a lot from the 4 girls who obviously hate her because she kind of in a way broke up their family.
This was by far my favorite of the 3 books, although I highly recommend all of them. I will probably continue to read more of Frank’s books as I believe most, if not all, are based around the same type of story in the Lowcountry.