The Hurricane Sisters - Dorothea Benton Frank
Best friends since the first day of classes at The College of Charleston, Ashley Anne Waters and Mary Beth Smythe, now 23 years old, live in Ashley's parents' beach house rent-free. Ashley is a gallery assistant who aspires to become an artist. Mary Beth, a gifted cook from Tennessee, works for a caterer while searching for a good teaching job. Though they both know what they want out of life, their parents barely support their dreams and worry for their precarious finances.
While they don't make much money, the girls do have a million-dollar view that comes with living in that fabulous house on Sullivans Island. Sipping wine on the porch and watching a blood-red sunset, Ashley and Mary Beth hit on a brilliant and lucrative idea. With a new coat of paint, the first floor would be a perfect place for soirees for paying guests. Knowing her parents would be horrified at the idea of common strangers trampling through their home, Ashley won't tell them. Besides, Clayton and Liz Waters have enough problems of their own.
A successful investment banker, Clayton is too often found in his pied-a-terre in Manhattan--which Liz is sure he uses to have an affair. And when will Ashley and her brother, Ivy, a gay man with a very wealthy and very Asian life partner--ever grow up? Then there is Maisie, Liz's mother, the family matriarch who has just turned eighty, who never lets Liz forget that she's not her perfect dead sister, Juliet.
For these Lowcountry women, an emotional hurricane is about to blow through their lives, wreaking havoc that will test them in unexpected ways, ultimately transforming the bonds they share.
First of all, every time I read one of Dorothea's books, I want to book a flight to Charleston. I swear to you- one of these days I'm going to spend a solid week on the beach and just soak it all in. Second of all, I love the cover of this book and I need that umbrella in my life.
I'll start by telling you how much I absolutely adored this book. I love how it switches character point of view seamlessly. All of the characters are flawed, but you love them anyways. You don't get irritated with them. Even when Liz is critical of Maisie of something, yet Liz is guilty of it with her own daughter. It's just... family nailed down perfectly. The story is really about a family trying to figure out how to be happy together. They all have issues with each other and with themselves, but at the end of the day they are still a family- you have to work it out.
In this story you'll deal with Ashley, who is an under employed college graduate kind of floundering through life. Ivy, who is the gay son living with his tech savvy partner in San Francisco and his parents are a bit unsure what to think about that. Maisie, 80 something and spry as ever living in sin with her "driver", Skipper and has a llama named after her. Then we have Liz and Clayton, both waffling through life as well and as their marriage hits the skids because Clayton is a bit of a dog, they have to figure out where they go from there. But let's not forget Mary Beth, Ashley's friend. She has issues of her own and while I thought her story line was just going to drop off into nothing, the author rallied and gave her a great ending that totally works.
I will say that I was pleasantly surprised to see the author take on an issue such as domestic violence, especially with a younger demographic. I think it's really important for young women to take violence and abuse against them seriously. A really great point is brought up in the book: we always look to the women and say, "why don't they just leave" when really the question of "why do we let men behave this way" is what really should be asked. I just think that's so great and if nothing else, it raises awareness to the important issue of domestic violence. It's happening all around us in places we least expect it. But don't be fooled, it may have a serious story line running through it, but this is still going to be a really fun summer read. You will laugh, you will have your heart strings tugged a bit, and you're going to just love this book. You will, I promise.
Dorothea has a Facebook you can keep up on and a website. Please check those out and see what other books you're missing out on. I've read quite a few and they are all really wonderfully written.