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The Last Original Wife: A Novel Hardcover – June 11, 2013
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Author One-on-One: Dorothea Benton Frank and Adriana Trigiani
Adriana Trigiani: Dorothea Benton Frank is a great storyteller, a ray of sunshine, and a fabulous party guest. If she were a cocktail, she'd be fizzy, and there would be a paper umbrella and a row of those cute plastic monkeys hanging around the rim. She's hilarious and so full of pep, you might want to bottle her. For now, we have a little interview about her latest book to share with her readers.
Dorothea Benton Frank: Thank you, Adriana. Yes, in fact, I am a great party guest. But darlin’? Lock up the medicine cabinet.
AT:Your books and your writing are so inspired by the South Carolina Lowcountry. What is it about the place that makes it such a muse to you? And please, tell us what is so low about "lowcountry".
DBF: The Lowcountry of South Carolina has been home to my family for over three hundred years. My ancestors, who were mostly respectable school teachers and merchants, fought in every single war of America’s history. It’s a blood soaked land steeped in all the important things that make us American but uniquely southern – stories of sacrifice, courage, determination, fortitude. It just seems more alive to me than any place I’ve ever been. Honestly? I feel that it’s a great privilege to be a Lowcountry Daughter.
What’s so low? Well, the Lowcountry is at sea level and it begins in north Florida with the banks of the Ogeechee River and travels north to Georgetown, South Carolina. It’s where rice was grown, using the fresh water tides with a series of gates and trunks to irrigate the rice fields.
AT: What gave you the idea for The Last Original Wife? That manhole episode that starts the novel is outrageous!
DBF: This is terrible but nearly that same thing actually happened to a great friend of mine in Rome – not all of it but she had a similar accident. And what about all the nuts who nearly get killed, texting while they’re crossing the street? Outrageous incidents are easily found. One personal weakness of mine is that I watch all the You Tube videos people send. My crazy brain invented the rest.
AT: In your novels there is always a close family relationship that you explore. For example, in The Last Original Wife the narrator Leslie is very close to her brother. What is it about family relationships that intrigue you?
DBF: So many things. I am the youngest of five almost by a decade. So I watched my siblings interact from the sidelines for many years. And I lost my father at a very young age, which has had an enormous impact on me all my life, informing many decisions, good and bad. I learned early on that life could change in a mere moment. And I learned about the price of staggering loss. Now I cherish my brothers and my sister and wish we all lived nearer to each other. It’s interesting that no matter how old I get, when we are all in the same room together, birth order takes over. Your friends can ditch you if you don’t act right. It’s more complicated to sever ties with blood relatives. At the end of the day, family is the most important thing we have.
AT:Your novels are set in today’s world and in The Last Original Wife it’s a virtual tour of Charleston, a must see destination. How did you know Charleston would become a mecca?
DBF:I didn’t. But it stands to figure that it would because who doesn’t want to visit the center of the universe?
About the Author
New York Times bestselling author Dorothea Benton Frank was born and raised on Sullivans Island, South Carolina. She resides in the New York area with her husband.
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Top Customer Reviews
Back home, Les realizes that her life has not turned out to be what she expected it to be. Yes, she is still married but it's a marriage by rote not of passion or caring. Her two adult children are irresponsible and users. Wes is a controlling guy and has no appreciation for what Les has done for him over the years. She discovers that financially they are in a much better situation than she was aware of and this is the impetus for her to take a trip to Charleston to visit her brother. Les has time to think and really assess what her life means and what she really wants to do with her future.
So many books lately feature the discarded wife being screwed by her cheating ex and having to rebuild her life on nothing but pluck. Then she gets financial revenge and a new man and everything is great. I love a good revenge plot as well as the next person, (Note: Pawley's Island by this author is one of the absolute best of that genre) but this book is different.Read more ›
Les is the title character, a middle-aged wife and mother of two adult children, doting grandmother to sweet little Holly. Married to Wes, a driven businessman, they dine at the exclusive country club each Saturday with their group of friends.
But that group is changing. Les' best friend died tragically, and the widower (too) quickly remarried a young, sexy woman who is not popular with the children. When Les' other best friend gives her husband an ultimatum- stop texting his hot young personal trainer at the dinner table or she is leaving, it leaves Les as The Last Original Wife.
Forced to spend time with her husband's friends and their new vapid, young wives, Les starts to wonder if this is what she has to look forward to in the coming years. After a trip to Scotland with her husband and his friend and new wife, Les falls into an open manhole and her husband gets all the way back to the hotel (a 40 minute walk) before he realizes that Les is no longer there.
Call that the straw that broke the camel's back. Les decides she is not happy with her life. Her daughter uses her as a babysitter whenever she feels like it, her son lives overseas and only calls for money, and her husband refuses to allow Les' gay brother Harlan to come visit so Les hasn't seen her him in forever.
She goes to Charleston to stay with her brother. There she runs into an old high school boyfriend and begins to see that she can have a different life, one where she can be in charge of her own happiness.Read more ›
I highly recommend this book for those who want a good read from a good author.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is an entertaining yet sometimes sobering look at the marital difficulties of Les and Wes, two southern sixty somethings. Read morePublished 8 hours ago by Hfineisen
Good story, hits some truths of life. Some of it was too predictable, but it was intriguing enough.Published 14 hours ago by MIR
Being a Lowcountry girl, having lived in Atlanta for a bit, and now living in Charleston, I absolutely loved the location references in this book. Read morePublished 1 day ago by Jenna Johnson
I had read one of Frank's books before, and found it to be sort of OK, but nothing I'd read again. I bought this one without realizing it was the same author, and I was glad for my... Read morePublished 1 day ago by Laura
This was a great woman's story of starting life anew after a long dull marriage. It's lighthearted tone made it an enjoyable read. Relatable and refreshing.Published 3 days ago by Debra Vogel