SHEM CREEK: A Lowcountry Tale

Dorothea Benton Frank, Author . Berkley $22.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-425-19608-3

Frank (Isle of Palms ) delivers another novel rich in the charms of smalltown South Carolina, the fourth in her bestselling Lowcountry series. Linda Breland, a single mother tired of living hand-to-mouth in New Jersey, decides to move herself and her two teenage daughters to her distant hometown of Mount Pleasant, S.C., where her sister, Mimi, still lives. Linda's straight-shooting style impresses local restaurateur Brad Jackson, who hires her to manage his restaurant; hints of a future romance are about as subtle as a kitchen fire. Frank easily, breezily shifts among her multiple first-person narrators. In Linda and Mimi, she explores two very different lives: Mimi is divorced, childless and neat as a pin; Linda is outspoken, maternal and frank about her teenage pregnancy and youthful marriage, which fell apart when her husband's mid-life crisis sent him into the arms of a younger woman. Similarly, Linda's daughters—dependable Lindsay, who is starting college in the fall, and smart-mouthed Gracie, whose penchant for hanging out with the wrong crowd helped fuel her mother's desire to move—offer a marvelous sibling contrast. The strong pull of friendship, the leisurely pace of a tiny, waterfront Southern town, and the steady buildup of romance help buoy Frank's well-drawn, memorable characters in the face of life's challenges. Agent, Amy Berkower. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 08/02/2004
Release date: 08/01/2004
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