Sweetwater Creek

Anne Rivers Siddons, Author . HarperCollins $24.95 (356p) ISBN 978-0-06-621335-4

Veteran novelist Siddons (Islands ; Nora, Nora ) returns to South Carolina's low country for her latest, a capable but uninspired story of a young girl's coming-of-age on the family plantation. Emily Parmenter is a lonely 12-year-old whose life revolves around the Boykin spaniels her family raises as hunting dogs. Her mother ran off; her beloved disabled brother, Buddy, who introduced her to literature, blew his head off with a shotgun (although Emily has conversations with him in her head); and her father, Walter, withholds all praise and attention. Her solace is her dog, Elvis, and Cleta, the wise black housekeeper. When 20-year-old LuLu Foxworth of the blueblood Foxworths arrives to spend time at the Parmenter plantation and work with the dogs, Emily is reluctant to welcome her, while social-climbing Walter is thrilled, hoping LuLu can teach Emily "to be a lady." The two emotionally neglected girls bond, and Lulu confides her dirty little secret: her addiction to alcohol and the smarmy Yancey Byrd, with whom Lulu has a 9½ Weeks –style love affair. The plot follows formula and the ends tie up happily for everyone but poor LuLu, the bad rich girl with the heart of gold. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 08/15/2005
Release date: 09/01/2005
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