LOW COUNTRY SUMMER

Dorothea Benton Frank

“Happy birthday? My pig-farmer boyfriend was in absentia, the county sheriff was the current cause of some very naughty thoughts, my drunk sister-in-law was passed out at my kitchen table, and my dead mother had sent balloons. What else could a girl want?”

On the occasion of her 46th birthday, Caroline Wimbley Levine is concerned about filling the large shoes of her late, force-of-nature mother, Miss Lavinia, the former Queen of Tall Pines Plantation. Still, Caroline loves a challenge—and she simply will not be fazed by the myriad family catastrophes surrounding her. She’ll deal with brother Trip’s tricky romantic entanglements,

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“Happy birthday? My pig-farmer boyfriend was in absentia, the county sheriff was the current cause of some very naughty thoughts, my drunk sister-in-law was passed out at my kitchen table, and my dead mother had sent balloons. What else could a girl want?”

On the occasion of her 46th birthday, Caroline Wimbley Levine is concerned about filling the large shoes of her late, force-of-nature mother, Miss Lavinia, the former Queen of Tall Pines Plantation. Still, Caroline loves a challenge—and she simply will not be fazed by the myriad family catastrophes surrounding her. She’ll deal with brother Trip’s tricky romantic entanglements, son Eric and his mysterious girlfriend, and go toe-to-toe with alcoholic Frances Mae and her four hellcats without batting an eye, becoming more like Miss Lavinia every day . . . which is not an entirely good thing.

Return with New York Times bestselling author Dorothea Benton Frank to the South Carolina Lowcountry—as a new generation stumbles, survives, and reveals their secrets by the banks of the mighty Edisto River.

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  • William Morrow Paperbacks
  • Paperback
  • April 2011
  • 384 Pages
  • 9780062020734

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$13.99

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About Dorothea Benton Frank

Dorothea Benton Frank is the New York Times best selling author of Low Country Summer, Return to Sullivans Island, Bulls Island, The Land of Mango Sunsets, The Christmas Pearl, Full of Grace, Pawleys Island, Shem Creek, Isle of Palms, Plantation and Sullivans Island. The author, who was born and raised on Sullivan’s Island in South Carolina and has been married forever to Peter Frank, currently divides her time between New Jersey and the Lowcountry of South Carolina. You can find Dororthea on Facebook.

Praise

“Seriously hilarious. Lowcountry Summer is also an incredibly poignant story of the relationship between a brother and sister. As only she can, Dorothea Benton Frank shows how we can survive loss, and explores the strong emotions home and family inspire. Get ready to laugh and cry.”—Kathryn Stockett, author of The Help

“Here’s one for the Southern gals as well as Yankees who appreciate Frank’s signature mix of sass, sex, and gargantuan personalities…. below the always funny theatrics, however, is a compelling saga of loss and acceptance. When Frank nails it, she really nails it, and she does so here.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Lowcountry Summer has it all: a sassy, lovable narrator; great, believable characters; laugh-out-loud lines; page-turning action; and surprising plot twists. in other words, it’s Dorothea Benton Frank at her best!”—Cassandra King

Discussion Questions

Describe Caroline’s relationship with her brother and the rest of her clan. How do the young people in the novel behave towards each other and towards their elders?

What things might Lavinia—coming from a different generation—have taken for granted that Caroline cannot? What accounts for these differences? How do the three generations of Wimbley women compare and contrast with one another?

What is Millie’s role in the story? How would you characterize her relationship with Caroline?

Caroline firmly believes in good manners and propriety. Why? Do you think these attributes are out of date—or are they more necessary than ever in today’s world?

Tradition is also important to Caroline. “Families like ours and Miss Sweetie’s never downsized and moved to condos in Boca. Sell the blood-soaked land our ancestors had died to protect? Never in a million years! We stayed where we were born until we drew our last breath, making sure that our heirs swore the same fealty to the cause.” How does such loyalty shape a person’s life? Can someone be too loyal? When can loyalty to a cause, a place, a person become destructive?

“In our world, women took care of everything, especially each other, and the art of making each other look good was something that gave us great joy and satisfaction,” Caroline explains when pondering her niece, Belle’s graduation. “Lesson one of adulthood was putting the needs or even just the wishes of others before your own and then taking pleasure in making them come to pass.” Do you agree with Caroline’s assessment?

Dorothea Benton Frank uses the Lowcounty as both a setting and a character in the novel. How does this place shape its inhabitants? How would you describe it? Have you ever had a connection with a place like Caroline does with Tall Pines Plantation? Would having such a link be comforting or confining?

Compare Caroline with her sister in law, Frances Mae. Why do they dislike each other? Are they alike in any way? How can the two join together in the name of the family? Could such a bond be strengthened? Can it last?

The bond—or lack of one—between parents and children—is a prevalent theme of Lowcountry Summer. What is Trip’s relationship like with his daughters? Why is he so helpless to contain them? Was he placing too much of a burden on his beloved, Rusty, to care for them? What did the girls think about their mother? What makes a good mother?

Trip asks his sister if she thinks his relationship with Rusty is wrong. How would you answer this? Should Trip have stayed with Frances Mae? Do you agree with his choices at the end? Do you think reconciliation can work? How much does success depend on Caroline?

Did Caroline overreact when she discovered her other niece, Linnie, was smoking pot at Belle’s graduation party? Could she have handled the situation better? Did Linnie deserve the slap she got from her aunt? Millie doesn’t like hitting and slapping, “But maybe sometimes a chile needs something to shake ’em up. Specially that knucklehead [Linnie].” What do you think of this?

What about Caroline’s feelings for Matthew—why was she so reluctant to admit how she really felt about him? What do you think the future holds for them?

The book is filled with several rites of passage: weddings, funerals, a graduation. How is Caroline’s position as matriarch defined by these rites?