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45 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dot Frank Is Better Than Ever With Characters, Setting, and Plot to Warm Your Heart
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...
Published on July 21, 2007 by Antoinette Klein

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Quiet, Companionable
Dorothea Benton Frank's books are not fast-paced or dramatic--except for brief episodes each in the two I have read, ISLE OF PALMS and THE LAND OF MANGO SUNSETS. Nor are they actually funny. She doesn't seem to have that knack, despite the somewhat misleading blurb on the covers. The closest she comes is the main character's sense of desperation in stressful situations...
Published on June 14, 2010 by CA Book Lover


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45 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dot Frank Is Better Than Ever With Characters, Setting, and Plot to Warm Your Heart, July 21, 2007
By 
Antoinette Klein (Hoover, Alabama USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Land of Mango Sunsets: A Novel (Hardcover)
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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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brava, Dottie!, April 27, 2007
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This review is from: The Land of Mango Sunsets: A Novel (Hardcover)
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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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Touching and funny with great characters, August 10, 2007
This review is from: The Land of Mango Sunsets: A Novel (Hardcover)
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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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars THERE'S ALWAYS TOMORROW !, May 28, 2007
This review is from: The Land of Mango Sunsets: A Novel (Hardcover)
Meet Miriam Elizabeth Swanson who describes herself thusly in New York Times bestselling author Dorothea Benton Frank's tale "The Land of Mango Sunsets": "I am older now and it doesn't matter anymore if someone thinks I am a fool. It makes me laugh because I have been a fool so often that if you could stack the occasions one upon another, they would reach the top of the sky and then spiral away into their own orbit.."

That's a pretty accurate self-evaluation as Miriam has made mistakes, some inconsequential, others harmful and, sadly, a few damaging. She's describing herself as she sits on the porch of her family home on Sullivan's Island in the Low country of South Carolina. Miriam has retreated here in the hope of finding perspective and healing.

Her husband of two decades has dropped her for a much younger and prettier woman, her two sons offer no consolation - one avoids her and the other has all he can do to care for himself. Once part of a social set she has been dropped by all of her friends as soundly as her husband dropped her.

Enough woe? Not at all. Miriam's museum boss is a former friend who treats her with barely concealed disdain, and she has had to turn her Manhattan townhouse into apartments because she needs the money (what happened to a good lawyer?) And, she finds that one of her tenants has become a victim.

However, when Miriam returns to Sullivan's Island she finds new opportunities in the very attractive form of retired banker, Harrison Ford (no relation to the actor).

Now, if you're wondering about the title, it refers to the big red orange ball the sun became at sunset on Sullivan's Island, as well as the sliced mangoes Miriam's parents enjoyed at breakfast.

- Gail Cooke
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Miriam is forced to reassess what she "wanted" and how she learns to appreciate the abundance that life has given her instead., May 29, 2007
By 
Bookreporter (New York, New York) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Land of Mango Sunsets: A Novel (Hardcover)
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly Enjoyable, June 15, 2007
This review is from: The Land of Mango Sunsets: A Novel (Hardcover)
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A delightful and refreshing story, August 29, 2007
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This review is from: The Land of Mango Sunsets: A Novel (Hardcover)
Dorothea Frank has created another wonderful story and I just thought Land of Mango Sunsets was just a great read. The characters are clever and appealing especially Miriam Swanson. Actually, I felt that she gave all the variety of splendid characters real feelings that I could relate too. This is a great book to take to the beach and read. It's an easy read and with the wonderful descriptive scenes of South Carolina, that Ms. Frank portrays you feel like you are roaming around in the beautiful state. I hope I haven't given away too much of the story for those who haven't read it. In summary, it's a delightful and refreshing story with humor, romance, a bit of mystery, and some valid issues concerning our environment. Highly recommend.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Good Read, May 5, 2007
This review is from: The Land of Mango Sunsets: A Novel (Hardcover)
I am a big fan of Dot Frank and have read all but one of her books..which I will remedy soon. I really enjoyed this book and found it to be interesting and a quick page turner. Typically like most Dot Frank books her writing is quick witted, funny and serious at various times and often all at once. Also typical is the lack of depth in characterizations although I found this book actually had more depth than some of her previous works. Still...there is alot of empty spaces in the characters and we only know many of them in bits and pieces through the eyes of the protagonist, Miriam. She is a divorced woman living in NY and travelling on occasion to Sullivan's Island, South Carolina. Her story and the story of her tenant, Liz unfolds and we grow to care for them. This is a great read for the summer but not a great work of literature. I think people either are or are not fans of Dot Frank. For me...I love all her works and thoroughly enjoyed this book. I think some may find the plot and characterizations somewhat lacking. I especially love Frank's loving and often mystical descriptions of the SC lowcountry and things and feelings that happen there. I can't wait to visit the area in a couple of years on a planned trip we have. I already also cannot wait for Frank's next book!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I loved it!, May 15, 2008
By 
Ratmammy "The Ratmammy" (Ratmammy's Town, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
THE LAND OF MANGO SUNSETS by Dorothea Benton Frank
May 15, 2008

Amazon rating 4 ˝ stars

THE LAND OF MANGO SUNSETS is a story that in part revolves around a woman and her relationship with her elderly mother, but it's mostly about a middle-aged woman who comes to terms with her life, and the relationships that are most important to her.

Miriam Elizabeth Swanson lives in New York. She's divorced, and rents out her apartment to help make ends meet. Her good for nothing husband had run off with a much younger woman and good riddance to him! Miriam's best friend is her gay renter Kevin, who is the only man in her life that she can trust and depend on. At the start of the story, she is trying to find another renter, to replace the one that had recently passed away. After much interviewing, Kevin and Miriam eventually agree on a young woman from Alabama, whom they feel will fit right in.

Miriam's personality is that of a very stuffy southern belle. The reader may assume at first that Miriam is an elderly woman by the way she behaves. Part of the story line has Miriam writing thank you notes obsessively and diligently, and I kept imagining an elderly spinster sitting at her desk. She writes these thank you notes for almost everything, and most of them have to do with the social groups she participates in, groups that at one time held her in high regard. But since the divorce, her standing has fallen. Miriam's husband had the money and evidently once the money left she was now considered a nobody.

Miriam's heart belongs in the south, in the Low Country. After discovering her new boarder is not as pristine and high class as she had hoped, Miriam goes home to escape and visit her mother, and soon her troubles melt away. However, when the new renter Liz encounters troubles of her own, Miriam brings Liz home with her to recuperate and to get some mothering as well.

While visiting home, Miriam meets her mother's boyfriend, a much younger man named Harrison Ford, of all names! Miriam notices her mother's changed lifestyle, too. She's eating organic, raising her own chicken for eggs, and basically she's a transformed woman. This southern-bred woman is now a hippie, thinks Miriam. Her mother must be crazy or it could be just old age.

With encouragement from her mother and Harrison, Miriam goes out with a man that Harrison was acquainted with, Manny, who brings out the wild side in Miriam, and she even accepts a new nickname, Mellie. Mellie loosens up her hair so to speak, and to the surprise of everyone she becomes a much less stodgy person and a more relaxed woman. However, she actually has her eyes on Harrison, but she knows Harrison is off limits.

Closer to home, Miriam regrets not having a strong relationship with her two sons. She had a falling out with one son due to the awful names he had given to his two children, and the other son Miriam wrote off because he moved in with a woman of color who also happened to be boring, and she wasn't even from this country! But something happens to alter Miriam's view on life. She vows to change. To prove that she's transformed into a new woman, when Miriam's son Charlie announces that he and Priscilla are finally getting married, she gives him the shock of his life by congratulating him and his fiancée, and opens up her arms and heart to both of them. Thus starts their adventure as they plan the wedding, and Miriam hopes that this wedding will be celebrated by the entire family, including her estranged son.

Ultimately, however, THE LAND OF MANGO SUNSETS is about Miriam (Mellie), who starts off as a person that many people find harsh and stuck up and not very fun, and turns into a changed person. Her struggles to unite her family will strike a chord with many people, just as her relationship with her mother will bring out the tissues. I am going to say, without having read all of her books that THE LAND OF MANGO SUNSETS is probably one of her best books yet. As a story told with humor (Miriam's bird is a riot!), a review of this book cannot fully describe the wonderful journey the reader will take as they start from the first page and end on that last happy, albeit sentimental, paragraph. THE LAND OF MANGO SUNSETS is highly recommended. - courtesy of Love Romances and More - M. Lofton
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant character study, May 3, 2007
This review is from: The Land of Mango Sunsets: A Novel (Hardcover)
Living in New York, Miriam Swanson finds her life nuked since her husband ran off with "his whore". Her friends have abandoned the middle aged woman as if she was the one cheating on her spouse; making it more difficult to adjust is her boss Agnes Willis who is one of those bosom buddies who give Miriam the cold shoulder. Worse she caught Agnes' husband Truman in a seemingly compromising position with her tenant Liz. Her two adult sons are polite, but avoid her like she has the plague. It seems the only folks who talk to her are her parrot and her tenants with each squawking at her.

Miriam decides to escape the city by visiting her socialite mother Miss Josie on the South Carolina barrier island Sullivan. She is stunned when mom no longer cares about fashion as the older female has gone bohemian. Miss Josie introduces Miriam to Harrison Ford (the banker that is), but though attracted to him, she fears he is Miss Josie's fling. So she returns to New York where she reveals Truman's indiscretion leading to his girlfriend's beating. Feeling guilty, Miriam takes Liz to Sullivan's Island to recover but the trip is more healing to Miriam who begins to reach out to those who care about her.

THE LAND OF MANGO SUNSETS is a brilliantcharacter study starring a lonely woman who finally understands she must reach out if she wants people to reach back. The story line is driven solely by Miriam with the secondary ensemble mostly relating to her even when for instance Truman is married to Agnes and having an affair with Liz. Though the ending seems very abrupt and improbable as time may heal all wounds, but the key is it takes time. Still fans of Dorothea Benton Frank's South Carolina tales will enjoy the return to SULLIVAN'S ISLAND.

Harriet Klausner
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The Land of Mango Sunsets: A Novel
The Land of Mango Sunsets: A Novel by Dorothea Benton Frank (Hardcover - April 10, 2007)
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