Thursday, July 22, 2010

Lowcountry Summer by Dorothea Benton Frank

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.

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.

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

Other Reviews & Information
Sharon's Garden of Book Reviews
Publisher's Page

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