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Girl from the South Hardcover – June 3, 2002

3.0 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

An admired English author of wryly intelligent family dramas, Trollope has never enjoyed a particularly wide American readership. This very likable novel, which features a protagonist from South Carolina involved with an English visitor, might change that. It even offers the notion that American family traditions, particularly Southern ones, offer a stability that contemporary English relationships often lack. Gillon Stokes is the odd girl out in her tradition-bound Charleston family, and when she goes to London on a typically whimsical impulse to pursue art research, she catches the eye of nature photographer Henry. When she casually invites him back home for a visit, Henry is charmed by the same folkways that Gillon finds so stifling, and he soon becomes so much part of her family that he begins turning their sense of themselves and each other upside down. Back in London, Henry's girlfriend, Tilly, is having problems keeping his friend William at bay, and discovers that she cares more than she expected she would about Henry's defection. The contrast between the casual, rootless Londoners and the rather rigid, assured Southerners is deliciously pointed, and Trollope (The Best of Friends, etc.) offers two splendid scenes of very different mothers and daughters coming to terms with their dissimilarities. This is subtle, delicate entertainment that skillfully avoids romantic clich‚ while offering a group of believably quirky characters learning to adjust to new maturity. National advertising.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Would that Trollope had stayed on her side of the pond. Instead, the prolific, popular English novelist (Marrying the Mistress) ricochets back and forth from Charleston, SC, to England, chronicling the relationships of several intertwined young people. The "girl from the South" is Gillon Stokes, who is in London working on an art exhibition catalog and trying to escape the constricted life her Southern upbringing imposes. Mind you, her mother, a psychiatrist in Charleston, doesn't quite fit the mold either. While in London, Gillon meets Henry Atkins, a discontented wildlife photographer on the brink of breaking up with his girlfriend. Shortly after Gillon returns to the South, Henry comes, too, is taken up by her family, and finds his true home, and love, there. More Maeve Binchy than Trollope, this rather mundane, predictable novel seems to be saying that "love isn't the answer." For those who expect the counterintuitively sympathetic characters of Trollope's previous novels and the unexpected denouements, this will be a disappointment. Fans will clamor for it, though. Francine Fialkoff, "Library Journal"
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult; 1st American ed edition (June 3, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067003097X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670030972
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,125,674 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Lynn Hamilton on June 25, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Henry loves Tilly. What's not to love? She's beautiful, elegant, does everything to perfection. Henry has lived with her for the past 10 years. But he won't commit. And Tilly is getting desperate.
Into this picture comes Gillon, a geeky American girl interning in London. Tilly meets her at a party, spills a drink on her and takes her out to dinner by way of compensation. Little does Tilly know this friendless, floundering girl from Charleston, South Carolina, will steal her boyfriend. To find out how this contemporary love triangle pans out, you'll have to read Girl from the South, Joanna Trollope's latest novel.
Girl from the South is a departure for Trollope, a quintessentially British tale bearer whose work falls nicely onto the same subtle shelf as Barbara Pym's and Mary Wesley's. In her latest venture, Trollope takes the action over the Atlantic to Charleston. Trollope's Charleston is a world richer in ritual and convention than England ever thought of being. And Gillon comes from one of the city's most elegant families. Yet the Southern girl fails to drop neatly into the puzzle. At 30, she is still unmarried, childless, not even on the fast track to a high-powered career. Determined to search for her own unique destiny, she seems to have fallen far behind her popular, married sister in the game of life.
However, things are never exactly what they seem on the surface in this intriguing Trollope novel. People who follow all the rules often have their own regrets. Like Tilly, Gillon's sister and grandmother are trapped in a regimen that defines who they are and how they will behave.
To her conventional family, Gillon is a disappointment, but to Henry, she is everything Tilly is not. Where Tilly is brittle and demanding, Gillon is tentative, searching and formidably honest.
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Format: Hardcover
Although thoroughly British writer Joanna Trollope has on occasion ventured into other venues (Italy and Spain), she has never set most of a novel in the United States. As one who has read all of her books, I admit I had a bit of apprehension about the change of locale...I expected a false American accent, if you will.
To my surprise and delight, "Girl from the South" proved to be one of Trollope's best works to date. In a story that switches from London to Charleston, South Carolina, and back again, the author introduces us to a number of disaffected people in their 30s--none of whom seem to be able to make a commitment. It is only Tilly, the beautiful but conventional Londoner, who seeks a settled way of life. But her boyfriend, Henry, cannot buy into her view of domesticity, despite years of living together. Tilly and Henry's roommate, attractive and feckless William, is even worse--he has a blonde bombshell girlfriend, Susie, with whom he shares a bed and a quasi relationship, but his true feelings are elsewhere.
Into this interesting mix comes Gillon, the "girl from the South." Stifled by the demands of her very proper southern family, bohemian Gillon, an art historian, flees to London to seek some sense of self. She provides the unwitting catalyst for a whole series of profound life changes among her newfound friends--and yet, seems powerless to make any changes herself.
The story's denoument is at once a disappointment and a revelation, as the main characters find fulfillment in the most unexpected of ways. As always, Trollope remains true to her characters and her story. This is no happily-ever-after romance, as none of her novels are--but it is life-affirming and positive, nevertheless. Highly recommended!
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Format: Hardcover
Joanna Trollope's newest novel, GIRL FROM THE SOUTH, has a few surprises in it for those who are expecting some of the same. I've always enjoyed the way she creates relationships in her books, whether it's platonic, romantic, or even the "old married couple." She does it well and continues to do it well here.
This is not a romance novel. It's not a novel that takes you where you think it will, with two people utterly and totally in love with one another and giving up everything they love to be together. How refreshing! Henry and Gillon have their own interests, their own lives. They have found a passion in their lives and it isn't based on another person. I found this to be inspiring. And a good lesson for those who think you can only find happiness when you find the right person.
This is different because it takes place in South Carolina (one of my favorite states) and England. An interesting change and even though there were times when the southerners spoke like they'd been raised in London, it wasn't something that detracted from the novel's plot or point.
I found GIRL FROM THE SOUTH to have a more modern attitude of relationships. She introduced us to individuals who were still searching but learning their way through life with intelligence and adventure.
I liked it. No disappointments for me at all.
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By A Customer on June 9, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I'm a girl from the South and I miss Ms. Trollope's Merrie Olde. I'm wondering if her editor insisted she set a novel in the states to attract more American readers. This novel isn't as deliciously, cleverly complicated as her previous ones, with much less of the intricacies of plot and character than she usually displays with such talent in her domestic reality genre. I'm a great advertiser of Joanna Trollope, and will return to her, but if you're a first time reader, try Marrying The Mistress or Other People's Children. No one does the small details of children, marriage, and flawed characters better.
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