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The Hurricane Sisters: A Novel Hardcover – June 3, 2014
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In Frank’s fourteenth South Carolina novel (Porch Lights, 2012), prominent, conservative Charlestonians Liz and Clayton Waters are none too happy with their family. Never mind the constant antics of Liz’s octogenarian mother, Maisie, and her boy-toy, live-in companion, Skipper. Their exuberant daughter, Ashley, refuses to pursue either a meaningful career or a potential husband, harboring instead dreams of being a celebrated artist. Meanwhile, their son, Ivy (for Clayton Waters IV), is a hip, San Francisco men’s clothier, along with James, his Asian business- and life-partner. ’Nuff said. Each hypercritical parent manages to cope in his or her own way: Liz, by running a battered-women’s shelter; Clayton, by running off to Manhattan and having an illicit affair. But when Skipper suffers a stroke and Ashley is brutally attacked by a seemingly merely smarmy state senator, Liz and Clayton rally to their sides and rediscover the strength and solace only a strong family can provide. Hidden beneath Frank’s trademark buoyant and breezy Low Country patois is a passionate exposé of South Carolina’s alarming problem with domestic abuse. --Carol Haggas
From the Back Cover
Hurricane season begins early and rumbles all summer long, well into September. Often people's lives reflect the weather and The Hurricane Sisters is just such a story.
Once again Dorothea Benton Frank takes us deep into the heart of her magical South Carolina Lowcountry on a tumultuous journey filled with longings, disappointments, and, finally, a road toward happiness that is hard earned. There we meet three generations of women buried in secrets. The determined matriarch, Maisie Pringle, at eighty, is a force to be reckoned with because she will have the final word on everything, especially when she's dead wrong. Her daughter, Liz, is caught up in the classic maelstrom of being middle-age and in an emotionally demanding career that will eventually open all their eyes to a terrible truth. And Liz's beautiful twenty-something daughter, Ashley, whose dreamy ambitions of her unlikely future keeps them all at odds.
Luckily for Ashley, her wonderful older brother, Ivy, is her fierce champion but he can only do so much from San Francisco where he resides with his partner. And Mary Beth, her dearest friend, tries to have her back but even she can't talk headstrong Ashley out of a relationship with an ambitious politician who seems slightly too old for her.
Actually, Ashley and Mary Beth have yet to launch themselves into solvency. Their prospects seem bleak. So while they wait for the world to discover them and deliver them from a ramen-based existence, they placate themselves with a hare-brained scheme to make money but one that threatens to land them in huge trouble with the authorities.
So where is Clayton, Liz's husband? He seems more distracted than usual. Ashley desperately needs her father's love and attention but what kind of a parent can he be to Ashley with one foot in Manhattan and the other one planted in indiscretion? And Liz, who's an expert in the field of troubled domestic life, refuses to acknowledge Ashley's precarious situation. Who's in charge of this family? The wake-up call is about to arrive.
The Lowcountry has endured its share of war and bloodshed like the rest of the South, but this storm season we watch Maisie, Liz, Ashley, and Mary Beth deal with challenges that demand they face the truth about themselves. After a terrible confrontation they are forced to rise to forgiveness, but can they establish a new order for the future of them all?
Frank, with her hallmark scintillating wit and crisp insight, captures how a complex family of disparate characters and their close friends can overcome anything through the power of love and reconciliation. This is the often hilarious, sometimes sobering, but always entertaining story of how these unforgettable women became The Hurricane Sisters.
Top customer reviews
It makes me sad to review Ms. Frank this way, but it is honest I find this to be a a slick, commercial book designed to appeal to all that is hip and modern (requisite gay character check, denigration of religion check, references to every "designer brand" and tv "celebrity" known to God and man check).
Sad day for me, I won't be buying anymore DBF books (at least not new lol) I'd been hoping Bull Island and the stuff that came after it, up to and including this book, were just a temporary. meet the deadline books and Ms. Frank would eventually go back to the original,witty,loving and lovable books from before, it's pretty clear that won't be happening, so I won't be buying.
What makes it an important book is that the plot is used, gracefully, to highlight some of the important social issues that we ignore: the first is that we romanticize the family unit, and Dorothea Frank takes that self-righteous attitude to task by exposing fissures of long standing, and the ways in which lies, most often meant to protect the family from embarrassment end up being the very sources of the fissures themselves.
The most important issue, nicely underplayed, is domestic violence in its many forms. There is no excessive description of every moment, or of every motive. Rather, there is sufficient narrative distance that the reader, many of us who have lived with domestic violence, need not turn away. The pain is muted, but the topic is not. Brava to Frank for bringing the other social issue "out of the closet," and that is both homosexual love and racism. These issues are handled both with tenderness and with the recognition that family pride is not the sine qua non of happiness. Hiding, and asking someone else to hide for your sake is also a form of abuse.
Finally, monogamy and male aging are examined in a way that is interesting, dramatic and ultimately opens up the closet of long term monogamy and the notion of privilege we can afford ourselves when we think we are the center of the universe.
All in all, and despite the seriousness of the topics, the characters, their eccentricities, rationalizations and repression combine to make a story that is an enjoyable read, compelling and ultimately meaningful. i recommend this book.