Carolina Dreams: It’s All Anne Rivers Siddons’ Fault

Anne Rivers Siddons is responsible for one of my ultimate fantasies: a Carolina beach vacation.

I’ve been a fan of the author Anne Rivers Siddons ever since my mother and I started scouring the new fiction shelf at the San Jose Public Library for her work. Sure, she writes male characters that are only slightly more real than the men in Elin Hilderbrand’s Nantucket novels, but her women are strong, and three-dimensional. More importantly, the HOUSES they live in are amazing. When I think of Anne Rivers Siddons, I think first of the beach, then of women characters, and then of architecture.

Outer Banks

One of the first Siddon’s novels I remember reading was Outer Banks. It was about true love and lost love, coming of age, finding one’s path, and of the changing relationships between friends, lovers, and families, and of course it had a wonderful house where much of the drama took place.

Granted, Siddon’s houses are nothing like the Carolina Designs homes that people can rent for their very own Carolina vacations. Hers tend to be draughty old summer cottages with sand stuck between the floor boards, and weathered paint. Charming to read about, but not where I’d want to stay.

So, where do I see myself on my fantasy visit to Carolina? Well this house is my ideal. It sleeps ten, so Fuzzy and I could invite the entire family, but everyone would still have their own space. It has cable, wifi and a wet bar (because we all know vacations are all about booze and the internet), and xbox, so my vampire-skin husband would have something to do while I’m basking on the sand or splashing in the surf. It has a lot of bathrooms – really important – and it also has a full kitchen. And did I mention the pool and tennis courts.

I have an aunt whose husband’s family owns a “cottage” in the Hamptons. Like the old homes in Siddon’s novels it’s huge and cold, with beds that include one referred to as the double taco, because it folds you into itself so completely – and not in a good way.

My vacation fantasy does not involve being suffocated by an ancient bed.

My vacation fantasy draws elements from another of Siddons’ novels, Low Country, which was all about the relationship between Anglo and Gullah communities in South Carolina. As much as I’d love an ‘in’ into the Gullah world, what really drew me about that novel was the food. The characters in that story were tied to their food, to their Sunday dinners, to sharing meals together, and as someone who grew up in a family of amateur and professional chefs, food is a language I speak well.

I long to have my family assembled for a barbecue within sight – or at least scent – of the ocean, with those coastal breezes making everything taste better. I want to sit on a deck at dusk nursing a beer and nibbling on the perfect burger, and not caring that there’s sand in my hair and that my nose is a little sunburnt.

I want to have wonderful days by the sea with people I love, and then, like Ms. Siddons, I want to curl up and write about it, turning it into a novel, a series of short stories, a memoir.

I want to be in Carolina..and it’s all Anne Rivers Siddons’ fault!

Low Country