Monday, September 12, 2011
Folly Beach by Dorothea Benton Frank.....
I was drawn to this book because of its title, because I've been to Folly Beach twice. In December. On a bicycle. One time it was cold and rainy and miserable, and the other time the temperatures were in the 80's. Welcome to winter in the South.
I love books about the Lowcountry. I guess I like the Lowcountry in general, since I came thiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiis close to buying a house on the marsh there just last month.
Cate Cooper is what I would call a socialite, the wife of a wealthy man, living a comfortable if somewhat ostentatious life in New Jersey. The book opens with her standing at her husband's graveside following his suicide. Shock follows shock, as a woman claiming to have had a child fathered by her husband shows up at the funeral, and then she discovers that she is broke. Forced to leave her house and give up all her possessions, Cate returns to her roots in the Lowcountry, where she and her sister were raised by their Aunt Daisy. Cate moves into Porgy House, the cottage where Dubose Heyward supposedly wrote Porgy and Bess with George Gershwin, and she becomes increasingly curious about Dubose and his wife Dorothy.
The book alternates between Cate's new love interest (whom she meets when he rams his car into hers at the supermarket - too stereotypical?) and the play she begins to write about Dorothy and Dubose. I don't usually like books that switch back and forth between narrators or between past and present (although I am writing my own book just that way - so sue me), but this unique approach worked well for this book.
I enjoyed reading this book, and I was pleased with the way it ended. What I could have appreciated more of, however, would have been details of the setting. Frank mentions the waves and the whitecaps occasionally, but I would like for the Lowcountry setting to become more important to the events of the book than just being where the Heywards lived while collaborating with Gershwin.
Overall a very good read, with some genuine human drama and interesting relationships.