In Lowcountry Summer by Dorothea Benton Frank we return to Tall Pines Plantation and revisit the Wimbleys and other characters introduced in the 2001 novel Plantation.
From Publishers Weekly (via amazon) Here's one for the Southern gals as well as Yankees who appreciate Frank's signature mix of sass, sex, and gargantuan personalities. In this long-time-coming sequel to Plantation, opinionated and family-centric Caroline Wimbly Levine has just turned 47, but she's less concerned with advancing middle age than she is with son Eric shacking up with an older single mom. She's also dealing with a drunk and disorderly sister-in-law, Frances Mae; four nieces from hell; grieving brother Trip; a pig-farmer boyfriend with a weak heart; and a serious crush on the local sheriff. Then there's Caroline's dead-but-not-forgotten mother, Miss Lavinia, whose presence both guides and troubles Caroline as she tries to keep her unruly family intact and out of jail. With a sizable cast of minor characters with major attitude, Frank lovingly mixes a brew of personalities who deliver nonstop clashes, mysteries, meltdowns, and commentaries; below the always funny theatrics, however, is a compelling saga of loss and acceptance.
Passages On a hurricane meal Orders were taken and eventually we sat down to what could be characterized as a hurricane meal, which would be one prepared with whatever could be found but with no electricity or water, having boiled the pasta in Evian on a charcoal grill or whatever we had on hand, although Trip would have been apoplectic if we had used bottled water to cook. The cost, you know.
On a new-to-me word (scrying) "Don't make me go scrying in my bowl this morning, you 'eah me? What's going on 'round 'eah?" (Millie) "Scrying?" Rusty said. "The art of predicting the future by staring into water. Nostradamus did it all the time. Very handy for predicting the end of time and all that I [Caroline] said.
On mother's sending children off to wherever ...I turned around one day and saw that he had grown peach fuzz above his lip and on the sides of his face. On and on it went until he towered over me and melted my heart every time I heard his man voice say, "I love you, Mom." "I just hate for you to leave, Eric." I couldn't help pouting. "Yeah, me, too. But you know I'll be back as soon as I run out of clean socks." "All over the world, mothers depend on that."
On another foodie description For dinner today, Millie had baked a fruited ham and made red rice, deviled eggs, green-bean salad, a zillion biscuits, and brownies that were so rich and chocolaty they made you literally drool for another cold glass of milk.
Revisiting and catching up with the Wimbley family and the goings-on at Tall Pines definitely fell into the category of a good summer read. Most everyone was still doing what they do best, whether that be Millie's holding everything together or Frances Mae's wreaking havoc. Add to that the less than genteel or appreciative daughters of said Frances Mae, and you have the makings of a good family-in-turmoil story.
My only real problem with Lowcountry Summer? Where was Dr. Jack Taylor? When last we left Caroline Wimbley Levine in Plantation, she seemed to be in a committed relationship with Jack. Fast forward to Lowcountry Summer, page 3, and we are introduced to her current beau, "a wonderful guy named Bobby Mack" without so much as a fleeting reference to the fate of Jack.
Rating: 3.5/5 (Fiction scale) Dedication: In loving memory of my sweet brother, Billy First sentence: It is a generally accepted fact that at some point during your birthday, you will reassess your life.
Extras Click here to visit the author's website. For more information on the Ashepoo, Combahee and South Edisto (ACE) Basin--the setting for Lowcountry Summer and Plantation--click here.
Are you keeping track of this series? We're now at Sizzling Sixteen by Janet Evanovich...wherein we learn why Ranger keeps giving cars to Stephanie. From Booklist (via amazon) Stephanie Plum, half-Italian, half-Hungarian, a shrewd mixture of smarts and dumb luck, works for her cousin Vinny as a bail bondswoman in Trenton, New Jersey. Vinnie, however, is in deep fecal matter, owing too much money to the very scary guys who have kidnapped him. Stephanie, office manager Connie, and Lula, plus-sized and focused (if not on the job at hand), manage to spring Vinnie (more than once) and find a lot of money to pay what he owes. Along the way, they facilitate a cow stampede and an alligator escape; are assisted by a bunch of Hobbit con-goers; and find their office going up quite thoroughly in flames. Stephanie wrecks the usual car and ping-pongs between the hot and dangerous Ranger and the hot and domestic Morelli. In the first few pages, Evanovich both catches readers up on the hilarious and cockeyed history of the preceding 15 books and gives fans a little more of everything they want, including the return of beloved stoner Mooner. Funny, scary, silly, and sweet.
Passages On Ranger Ranger was my mentor when I first went to work for my cousin Vinnie. I suppose he's still my mentor, but now he's also my friend, my propector, from time to time he's been my employer, and on one spectacularly memorable occasion, he was my lover.
On home (Stephanie reflects on her parent's house) The house hasn't changed much over the years. A new appliance when needed. New curtains. Mostly, it's overcrowded with comfortable nondescript furniture, cooking smells, and good memories.
On Lula's "one of" diet Minutes after Ranger left, Lula hauled herself up into the Jeep. "The best I could do was blueberry," Lula said. "They didn't have no vegetable doughnuts. And I got a strawberry jelly-filled, and a pumpkin spice, and a banana scone. Wait a minute. Is pumpkin a vegetable? Does that count?" "You must have eight hundred calories in that bag." (Stephanie) "Yeah, but the diet says I can have one of anything." "One doughnut! Not one of each kind." (Stephanie) "You don't know that for sure," Lula said.
On the kind of Italian restaurant we all know (even if we don't live in the Burg) Pino's serves Italian food Burg-style. Greasy pizza you have to fold to eat, meatball subs, sausage sandwiches, spaghetti with red sauce, worthless uninteresting salad with iceberg lettuce and pale tomatoes, Bud on tap, and red table wine. It has a dark, carved, mahogany bar and a side room with tables for families and couples who don't want to watch hockey on the television hanging over the liquor collection.
On relationships ...I was in a state because I had two men in my life, and I had no clue what to do with them. I loved them each in different ways, and I was too traditional and Catholic to just enjoy them. How sick is that? I wasn't a practicing Catholic, but I had guilt. And I was stuck with all these rules about relationships. And then there was my mother, who I suspect was mortally afraid I'd end up with Ranger. And my grandmother, who probably thought I was an idiot to to be sleeping with both of them. And my father, who didn't think there was a man alive who was worthy of me.
Team Joe vs. Team Ranger heats up. Lula's wardrobe gets more outrageous. Vinnie's in BIG trouble. Rex just keeps that wheel movin'. And then there's that lucky bottle inherited from Uncle Pip....
Rating: 3.5/5 (Mystery Scale) Dedication: Thanks to Laura A. Koppe for suggesting the title for this book. First Line: My Uncle Pip died and left me his lucky bottle.
Amazing thing, that inter-library loan. Just go on line, login to your library account, enter a book title, click once, and it's added to your reserve list. Then you sit and wait, and wait, and wait some more. And then the email alerts hit your Inbox. First just one. So you go to pick up that book, and there are two other books waiting for you. (Plus I just couldn't pass up the Judi Dench biography.) Then two more email alerts. Again, you go to the library to pick these up only to find that, yes, the books ready for pickup have multiplied in the time between logging off your computer and driving the 2.3 miles to the library.
Here's Wednesday's books
Backseat Saints by Joshilyn Jackson
Darling Judi by John Miller
A Little Bit Wicked by Kristen Chenoweth
Lowcountry Summer by Dorothea Benton Frank
The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley
Dead Head by Rosemary Harris
The Search by Nora Roberts
The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin
Hannah's List by Debbie Macomber
Fortunately, the forecast for the weekend is hazy, hot, and humid--perfect for planting myself in my favorite chair with an ice cold beverage at hand, putting the AC on medium high, and enjoying the riches given to me from the library.
July 31 Update: Finished Lowcountry Summer and The Search. Bookmarks still working their way through Darling Judi and A Little Bit Wicked (both were renewed). Did the 100-page test on BackseatSaints and couldn't really get into it. Weed That Strings... got almost halfway through; put on my list to check out again when it goes of the 14-day list; same for Dead Head. Wasn't in the mood for either The Mountain Between Us or Hannah's List, although The Mountain Between Us does deserve a second try. And when I went to return these yesterday, The Darling Dahlias and the Cucumber Tree by Susan Wittig Albert and This Must Be the Place by Kate Racculia (a local author) were waiting for me.