Friday, January 16, 2009

Lowcountry by Anne Rivers Siddons

From the publisher's website: Caroline Venable has everything her Southern heritage promised: money, prestige, a powerful husband—and a predictable routine of country-club luncheons, cocktail parties, and dinners hosting her husband's wealthy friends, clients, and associates in his successful land-developing conglomerate.

To escape her stifling routine, Caro drinks a little too much. But her true solace is the Lowcountry island her beloved Granddaddy left her—an oasis of breathtaking beauty that is home to a band of wild ponies. When Caro learns that her husband must develop the island or lose the business, she is devastated. The Lowcountry is her heritage—and what will happen to the ponies whose spirit and freedom have captivated her since childhood?

Saving the island could cost Caroline more than she ever imagined. To succeed, she must confront the part of herself numbed by alcohol and careful avoidance—and shatter long-held ideals about her role in society, her marriage, and ultimately, herself.

Anne Rivers Siddons signature is her ability to capture a setting. I can say with authority that she captured the Lowcountry because this is my home and I felt right at home in her descriptions. She must do great research or, perhaps, she travels and immerses herself in the location she wants to feature next - the answer to that is probably out there on the Net but I am too lazy to go Google it right now! Laying around reading a book about the marshes and islands of South Carolina will do that to you - you just want to give everything up and go lay in a hammock!

I liked the story line of the book even though I could see most of the plot twists coming far in advance. There was just enough question left for me to make it satisfying to get to the end and have it all sorted out. The tale reflects some of the story of a real island here, Dafuskie Island, which some folks may remember Pat Conroy made famous in his tale The Water is Wide which was later made into a movie called Conrack. There are still Gullah people on the sea island and now, there is increasing interest in and plans to collect their history and preserve their culture. It is not the "Gullah Disney Land" that Caro feared in this story but is instead respected ventures like the Penn Center on St. Helena Island.

Back to the book...what I didn't like. I didn't like the character of Luis Mansells. He was the Hispanic gardener/hero and was straight out of a Harlequin romance. He comes on all chauvinistic and gruff but the women fall for him anyway and he ends up being Prince Charming. Yuck.

The conflict between development and preservation is played out here daily. The book is over ten years old but the tug of war is still going strong and the book still feels timely.

This book is my "L" for the A-Z Reading Challenge!Click on the logo to see my progress.


Judy Drozda said...

I loved this book, the first of the authors that I have read, and I just came back from the library with four more of her books!. I read a lot and find her narrative and descriptive language intelligent and as real as if she had painted them in a picture. I go back into the shelves to find books because so many of the new writers have little skill and no vocabulary. thank you Anne.

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