Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Folly Beach: A Lowcountry Tale by Dorothea Benton Frank
Amazon.com Book Description:
Experience the wild beauty and sultry magic of New York Times bestselling author Dorothea Benton Frank's Carolina Lowcountry - where the pull of family is as powerful as the ocean tides and love can strike faster than lightning in summer ...
Folly Beach ...
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 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 Beach 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 Beach, 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.
My Book Review:
As a loyal fan of Dorothea Benton Frank's Lowcountry novels, I was excited when Folly Beach: A Lowcountry Tale was released in June and couldn't wait to read the book, and once again she didn't disappoint me. In Folly Beach, the author provides the reader with not one, but two storylines that intertwine, which is a departure from her usual writing style.
The storyline begins in NJ, where Cate Cooper's comfortable world has been turned completely upside down with the suicide of her husband due to his financial problems. Kept in the dark, the tragedy just gets worse when Cate discovers all of her husband's ugly dark secrets, and she finds herself financially destitute and homeless. With nothing but a used car and a few boxes of what is left of her worldly belongings, Cate heads back to her childhood home in Folly Beach, SC to regroup.
This is where the second storyline comes into play, Cate's aunt owns Porgy House, once the home of the famous Porgy and Bess playwrights Dorothy and DuBose Heyward. It is at Porgy House in the summer of 1934, where the Heywards and the famous composer George Gershwin create the songs for Porgy and Bess. When Cate moves into Porgy House, she meets college professor John Risley, who encourages her to research the history of the Heywards, and write a play based on their lives. During her research, Cate finds fascinating similarities between Dorothy and herself, which adds to the mystique of residing at Porgy House.
What I loved most about Cate's story is that her coming home to Folly Beach was a blessing in disguise. She discovered what it meant to be surrounded by a loving family; she learned to stand up on her own two feet and rebuild her life; she took the chance to find love again; and most of all she finds out that dreams can still come true, no matter how old a person may be.
The author weaves and intertwines the two storylines in a unique way: she alternates chapters with Cate's story and the other is acts of a one-woman play based on Dorothy Heyward's life. While I did find the intertwining storylines to be intriguing, I must admit that I would have preferred to have just read Cate's story, and have the story of Dorothy Heyward added as part of Cate's research. I found the alternating chapters (storylines) to be a bit annoying, because just when I was really getting into Cate's story, I had to turn around and shift gears and get back into the acts of the play. That being said, I loved Cate's story and the wonderful interactions between her family members. I also did enjoy reading about the Heywards' lives and the creation of Porgy and Bess, but just not in the context in which it was written about in the book. Finally, as a fan of southern fiction, especially of Lowcountry tales, the little annoyances I had with this book were greatly overshadowed by the author's wonderful description of the beautiful Lowcountry areas of SC, reading about them always makes me yearn to visit or live there.
Dorothea Benton Frank fans, this book is worth the reading!
RATING: 4 STARS ****