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Showing 1-10 of 139 reviews(5 star). Show all reviews
on July 21, 2007
This is the best book by Dorothea Benton Frank since she penned the original SULLIVAN'S ISLAND and the follow-up PLANTATION. Why? Because with her deft skill and tremendous talent for creating local color, she has given us not only the charm and peacefulness of the Carolina Low Country but the frenetic, struggling- for- survival pace of New York City which adds even more humor and pathos than ever before.

Miriam Elizabeth Swanson is a whimpering divorcee still ruffled by the fact her no-good husband dumped her for his younger, thinner girlfriend, a lingerie model to boot. Forced to rent the upper floors of her townhouse in order to make ends meet and still desperate to be a part of the society that rejects her at the same time her husband does, Miriam is none too likeable. In fact, I'm thinking why should I care about this woman? She has broken ties with her sons, rejected one's wife and children and has nothing good to say about the other's live-in lover. She is so wrapped up in herself and her desire to be a society queen bee that I was almost pulling against her. But then a coffee urn and a totally despicable director of volunteers changed my mind and Miriam's life forever. Sullivan's Island, as only Dot Frank can describe it, morphed uptight Miriam into the laid-back and totally sympathetic Mellie.

Miriam/Mellie makes coming home a journey to remember and comes to understand "...all that predictability in coming home, that there was a time when you could depend on the fact that you were wanted, missed, welcomed, and really loved by someone who knew you and loved you despite your flaws."

Loved she is by her quirky mother, Miss Josie, and the stunning man Mellie assumes is her mother's beau, the too-good-to-be-true-so-grab-him-fast Harrison Ford (not the actor.) Mellie splits her time between Sullivan's Island and New York and we are charmed by her friends in both places. In New York there is the irrepressible Harry, a parrot with a vocabulary to die for, and Kevin, a successful window dresser and the dearest friend a woman could ever have, plus Liz, the tenant that Miriam/Mellie unwittingly sets up for a traumatic experience. In the Low Country, the aforementioned Miss Josie and Harrison as well as Manny Sinkler help Miriam/Mellie realize the life she deserves and wants can be hers. She only has to get her priorities straight, and when she does, her cup runneth over with love given and love returned.

Frank has woven a great story of mending fences and reconnecting with the important parts of your past while letting go of the hurtful parts. She has given us the unbeatable combination of great characters, charming settings, and an uplifting story. That's why her work is always a favorite of mine.
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on April 27, 2007
How did we live without Dorothea Benton Frank? Each book she writes is better than the last. Every time I think I've died and gone to heaven, as in Sullivan's Island, Shem Creek, and all the rest, she comes up with a new, unique set of characters that win my heart forever.

Meet Miriam, an uptight (to the point of being ridiculous) divorced New Yorker whose entire life is wound around her status in various society committees. My first reaction was, "ewwwww, who wants to read about this shallow person?" Of course I was dead wrong...as I learned in short order, when I met Harry the Bird, a character in his own right, and Kevin, the gender-bending, absolutey fabulous window designer who is not only Miriam's tenant, but her best friend.

And THEN, we find out that our uptight Miriam is really a bona fide geechee girl, from Sullivan's Island, and once we fly down south with her to visit her wonderful mother Miss Josie, and to share in all the traditions and the lifestyle with which Miriam grew up, we entirely forgive her. Especially when she becomes "Miss Mellie," which is a story in itself.

The book goes faster and faster, and gets better and better, and then all of a sudden it is finished, and readers like me are left to beg: "Please, Dottie, may I have another?"
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on August 10, 2007
A story about a woman of a certain age that finds herself challenging some long-held assumptions and habits. The story is filled with quirky, fun characters and will have you both laughing and crying. A very touching story with enough twists and turns to keep your interest.
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on May 29, 2007
Miriam Swanson never planned to find herself in a Manhattan townhouse, renting out parts of it to make ends meet. But after her husband Charles betrayed her, that's exactly where she was. Kevin, her tenant and best friend, asks, "What's going through your head, Miriam? You've got that look again." And she responds, "Everything. I'm middle aged, Kevin. The game's half over and somehow I never got what I wanted."

THE LAND OF MANGO SUNSETS tells the story of how Miriam is forced to reassess what she "wanted" and how she learns to appreciate the abundance that life has given her instead. Throughout the book this life-changing theme is repeated: When one door closes, another one opens. Every cloud has a silver lining. When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.

As a cynical New Yorker, this Pollyanna approach to life never occurred to Miriam. For example, despite her divorce, she continued trying to hold open the door of Manhattan society by extensive volunteering and hobnobbing with the matrons who dictate its rules. She saw no silver lining in having to rent her upstairs bedroom to a young woman whose company was a gentleman caller. And she certainly had no hope of making anything good out of the flawed relationships she had with her sons.

Yet, as she recognizes that change is necessary and with the help of her friends, she begins to let go of the beliefs that have not served her very well. The transformation that takes place will have readers cheering for this courageous woman and envying the goodies that life gives her once she becomes willing to admit that she has made mistakes and resolves to change.

Part of the change involves returning to visit her mother and rediscovering the charm of Sullivan's Island, which is the land of mango sunsets that she remembered from her childhood. Her relationship with her mother is one that every woman can relate to, either because she has one like it or wishes she did. Miss Josie appears to have taken up the green lifestyle, growing her own vegetables, raising chickens and getting her dairy products from Cecelia, her miniature goat. Her friend, Harrison Ford, is always around to help out and even begins Miriam's transformation by renaming her "Mellie." She thinks he's better looking than the movie star with the same name and starts wondering if there will be a Ford in her future!

The thing about memoirs, whether fictional or not, is that they are usually about rather unremarkable people who do some remarkable things. What makes them so enjoyable is when they are written by remarkable writers. Writers who pay attention to the smallest details of life, like a pet bird who repeats sentences with a sense of timing that Johnny Carson would appreciate. Like the nuances of love between friends. Like snappy New York dialogue from a middle-aged matron. Like a city girl trying to get a goat to cooperate with the milking process.

Dorothea Benton Frank is a remarkable writer, and THE LAND OF MANGO SUNSETS is a book that I'll always remember with a smile.

--- Reviewed by Maggie Harding
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VINE VOICEon June 15, 2007
This was my first Dorothea Benton Frank book and it certainly won't be my last. The title caught my interest only by chance and I decided to read it even if though I'd never heard of the author (where have I BEEN?). What a breath of fresh air - I can't remember when I've enjoyed a book as much. The characters were vivid - well defined and colorful. Perhaps it's just that this is my first book by this author, but I wasn't absolutely sure where the story was going or how it was going to end.

I found myself looking forward to having the time to read the book, which is always the sign of a good read. I loved the combination and contrast of locations between SC and NYC. I guess there isn't anything I didn't like about this book except that it had to end. I'm thrilled the author has written several other books so I can get and enjoy them.
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on October 13, 2015
Loved it. I started this book in a rental that I stayed at in Florida. I knew I wouldn't steal the book, Burt also knew I had to finish it. So, as soon as I came home from vacation, I bought it for my Kindle, started it again, and haven't put it down until now. I just finished it, and loved it. So well told..
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on February 11, 2015
Awesome book that really hit close to home with me as I recently divorced and planned my daughter's wedding. Dealing with a tightwad ex and wedding planning is no fun but I enjoyed Dorthea Benton Franks insight in Mango Sunsets. Also the beautiful relationships formed after all the pain was washed away.
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on January 28, 2014
Love all of Benton Frank's books . They are far more than chick lit or beach reads but because they are not moribund tomes filled with angst, they will probably never get the credit they deserve. But I'll bet they sell well since her characters are well developed and her stories uplifting. Everybody learns something in Frank's books. In the genre of Southern female writers nobody does it better than Dorthea Benton Frank and Cathy Holton.
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on April 17, 2012
I discovered Dorothea Benton Frank just a month ago...where has she been hiding? Since I read her for the first time in mid-March I have ordered and read her first 7 books and am slack-jawed about this woman's talent. I have really wept and laughed out loud and gobbled up each and every book that I have gotten (I can't wait to re-read them to see what I missed the first time when I finish reading all she has in print). The Land of Mangoe Sunsets was one of the best (and that is a hard determination to make since they are all beyond best..I think this is just the last one that I read which makes it the best...for now). I cannot gush enough. I am an avid reader and emotional writing is tantamount for me to enjoy a book (you know like I said before laugh and cry all within the same covers) and this woman personifies excellent, skillful, heartfelt, verbiage beyond compare. Oh my how I do go on....but I mean it, all of it. If you are thinking of reading her and you are reading this to help you decide go immediately to the top of the page and hit "go to cart" button and then expect to be enchanted.
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on August 7, 2015
To change your life. This story tells us that. Miriam has suffered many things, leading her to a life and relationships that are not what she wants them to be. When a series of events cause her to reevaluate, she decides to make her life her own. As we all should.
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