Sunday, July 12, 2009

Return to Sullivans Island by Dorothea Benton Frank

Thanks to MotherTalk we were sent a copy of Return to Sullivans Island to review. This is a book about life, love, and self discovery by Dorothea (Dottie) Benton Frank.
Her first novel, the New York Times bestseller Sullivans Island, tells a story of love, loss, family, and history as it follows the life of Susan Hamilton Hayes, both in the present time (1999) and during her childhood (1963). The location, Sullivans Island, the real-life setting of the book and the author's hometown, becomes a character in the story itself. Located seven miles off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina, it comes alive through the pages of the novel.

Now, the author returns to the magical landscape of South Carolina to tell the next generation's story: "Newly graduated from college and an aspiring writer, Beth Hayes, the protagonist's daughter from the first novel, craves independence and wants to conquer the world. But her notions of travel, graduate study, and writing the great American novel will have to be postponed. With her family leaving town, Beth is elected to housesit. Buoyed by sentimental memories of growing up on this tiny sandbar that seems to be untouched by time, Beth decides to give herself over to the island's force and discover the wisdom it holds. She will rest, rejuvenate, and then reenter the outside world. Yet she comes to realize there is so much about life and her family's past that she does not know. Her ignorance and naiveté nearly cost her both her inheritance and her family's respect, but Beth finds unexpected friends to help her through the disaster she faces. If everything happens for a reason, then Beth's return to Sullivan's Island teaches her that betrayal and tragedy are most easily handled when you surround yourself with loyal people in a magical place that loves you so much that it wants to claim you as its own."

While this book is a sequel, and I haven't read the first one, this story really does stand alone. I was able to really enjoy this book and can't wait to go back and read the first book in this series, Sullivan's Island. I loved how Frank was able to bring the magical place of Sullivan Islands to life for me. Her ability to create colorful characters and her vivid descriptions of island life really keep me interested in this amazing novel. I really enjoyed how Frank was able to bring out surprise after surprise which kept me totally guessing about the resolution up until the very end. This book made me laugh and cry and I certainly didn't want to put the book down until I was finished. We highly recommend this great read!!


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