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Dot Frank Is Better Than Ever With Characters, Setting, and Plot to Warm Your Heart
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.