Published by William Morrow Paperbacks ISBN 9780062132581
Trade paperback, $15.99, 400 pages
One of the great things about summer is that I get to spend some time in South Carolina's Lowcountry when Dorothea Benton Frank's latest novel publishes. Last year's terrific novel All The Single Ladies shows Frank in fine form with wonderful characters in a great story, topped off with Frank's signature one-liners that crack me up and is now available in paperback.
Lisa St. Clair is a divorced nurse, struggling to make do with a part-time job working at an adult home, sad that her 18-year-old daughter has moved to Colorado, where her estranged father has help set her up in her own legal marijuana tourist company.
Lisa has become close to Kathy, fifty-year-old patient who is dying of cancer, as well as the woman's two best friends, Carrie and Suzanne, who hold a constant vigil at her bedside. When Kathy passes away, Lisa, Carrie and Suzanne join forces to clean out Kathy's apartment, and they become closer.
What I liked about this book was that these are women of a certain age, who haven't been lucky in love up to this point, but they don't close themselves off to the possibilities in front of them. They support each other, and when Lisa loses her apartment, Suzanne offers her a room in her grandmother's home near the beach.
Suzanne's grandmother Miss Trudie is an unforgettable character, the kind of grandma we'd all wish to have. She's 99 years-old, sassy, and full of life and advice. I fell in love with Miss Trudie.
Carrie is a thrice-widowed woman, and she is always on the lookout for husband number four. Suzanne owns her floral shop, but she doesn't have time or the inclination to look for a husband. Taking care of Miss Trudie and trying to keep her shop open takes all of her time.
Lisa not only has to deal with her strained relationship with her daughter, but her phone conversations with her parents are hilarious. I can almost see her banging her head against the wall as she tries to get through a call with them.
The friendship these women develop is heartwarming, they support and encourage each other in their individual endeavors. And the men that come into their lives are not stereotypical clueless guys, they feel like real men, trying to do their best for the women they care about.
One of the men even gives a great piece of advice; he tells Lisa that children don't do things to hurt their parents, they don't even consider that their actions have anything to do with their parents. Smart man.
One of the best things about reading Frank's novels is that I can add so many great restaurants to my Charleston Pinterest board. Frank helped me add close to a dozen more, and the Chamber of Commerce of Charleston should send her a big bouquet of flowers because no one encourages more people to visit (and maybe even retire) to that beautiful area.
Grab a beach chair, your best girlfriends, a couple of bottles of Pinot Grigio, and a few copies of All The Single Ladies and make a day of it. Then go to dinner and plan your girls' vacation to Charleston.
Dorothea Benton Frank's website is here.