- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (April 7, 2015)
Hurricane season begins early and rumbles all summer long, well into September. Often people’s lives reflect the weather and The Hurricane Sisters is just such a story.
Once again Dorothea Benton Frank takes us deep into the heart of her magical South Carolina Lowcountry on a tumultuous journey filled with longings, disappointments, and, finally, a road toward happiness that is hard earned. There we meet three generations of women buried in secrets. The determined matriarch, Maisie Pringle, at eighty, is a force to be reckoned with because she will have the final word on everything, especially when she’s dead wrong. Her daughter, Liz, is caught up in the classic maelstrom of being middle-age and in an emotionally demanding career that will eventually open all their eyes to a terrible truth. And Liz’s beautiful twenty-something daughter, Ashley, whose dreamy ambitions of her unlikely future keeps them all at odds.
Luckily for Ashley, her wonderful older brother, Ivy, is her fierce champion but he can only do so much from San Francisco where he resides with his partner. And Mary Beth, her dearest friend, tries to have her back but even she can’t talk headstrong Ashley out of a relationship with an ambitious politician who seems slightly too old for her.
Actually, Ashley and Mary Beth have yet to launch themselves into solvency. Their prospects seem bleak. So while they wait for the world to discover them and deliver them from a ramen-based existence, they placate themselves with a hare-brained scheme to make money but one that threatens to land them in huge trouble with the authorities.
So where is Clayton, Liz’s husband? He seems more distracted than usual. Ashley desperately needs her father’s love and attention but what kind of a parent can he be to Ashley with one foot in Manhattan and the other one planted in indiscretion? And Liz, who’s an expert in the field of troubled domestic life, refuses to acknowledge Ashley’s precarious situation. Who’s in charge of this family? The wake-up call is about to arrive.
The Lowcountry has endured its share of war and bloodshed like the rest of the South, but this storm season we watch Maisie, Liz, Ashley, and Mary Beth deal with challenges that demand they face the truth about themselves. After a terrible confrontation they are forced to rise to forgiveness, but can they establish a new order for the future of them all?
Frank, with her hallmark scintillating wit and crisp insight, captures how a complex family of disparate characters and their close friends can overcome anything through the power of love and reconciliation. This is the often hilarious, sometimes sobering, but always entertaining story of how these unforgettable women became The Hurricane Sisters.
Buy, read, and discuss The Hurricane Sisters
New York Times bestselling author Dorothea Benton Frank was born and raised on Sullivans Island, South Carolina. She is the author of many New York Times bestselling novels, including Lowcountry Summer and Return to Sullivans Island. She resides in the New York area with her husband.
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There are certain authors I gravitate to whenever I want a compelling drama with strong women, complex relationships, and fabulous coastal settings. Dorothea Benton Frank is one of them, and I know that when her name is on a book cover, it’s highly unlikely that I’ll be disappointed in the story, even if I don’t always connect with the characters. (I suspect this is because of my bleeding-heart liberal, Yankee upbringing.)
When I was offered the opportunity to review The Hurricane Sisters in tandem with it’s release in paperback (it was originally published last summer), I leaped at the chance, and the book caught me in it’s pages and gave me a long, stormy afternoon’s entertainment. (There’s something eerie about reading a novel set against an impending hurricane, while tornado warnings are going on around you.)
What I love about all of Frank’s work is true of this novel: Interesting female characters, male characters who aren’t just cookie-cutter creations in pastel shirts – and a truly intergenerational story that is intertwined with Charleston and Sullivan’s Island. I felt for poor Ashley, being so betwixt and between, identified more than I care to admit with Liz, and wanted to adopt Maisie as my own grandmother (I would totally have offered her a third martini. I like mine dirty. I’m sure she wouldn’t care.) I enjoyed the juxtaposition of Clayton, slightly bewildered father, and Ivy, the gay brother who is the most functional and stable of the family.
I also liked that this book wasn’t just a coming-of-age novel for Ashley, or a coming-out novel for Ivy, and it wasn’t just a bonding story, or a family drama – it was all of these things and more, woven together the way real family issues intersect with each other, running parallel at times, and perpendicular at others.
The thread of domestic violence that runs through the tapestry of this story only made it more relevant for me. Not that I dislike Frank’s less message-laden work, but I could tell that something in her research really affected the author, and, indeed, she mentions this in the afterword.
As with any author’s work, every reader will respond to different stories in their own way. In the past, I haven’t always felt like I was ready for some of Frank’s work, enjoying it, but missing the point. Reading The Hurricane Sisters as someone fast approaching her 45th birthday, I feel like I’m finally part of her target demographic, but no matter your age, I still say, it’s highly unlikely that YOU will be disappointed by any book with Dorothea Benton Frank’s name listed as the author, and especially not this one.
Goes well with gin martini’s, dirty, followed by a steak and shrimp and a simple salad.
Tuesday, April 7th: The Discerning Reader
Wednesday, April 8th: The man thoughts of a reader
Thursday, April 9th: Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Friday, April 10th: Books and Bindings
Monday, April 13th: Lavish Bookshelf
Tuesday, April 14th: Peeking Between the Pages
Wednesday, April 15th: Bookshelf Fantasies
Monday, April 20th: Books in the Burbs
Tuesday, April 21st: Bibliotica – That’s ME!
Wednesday, April 22nd: Jorie Loves a Story
Thursday, April 23rd: A Novel Review
TBD: A Chick Who Reads