Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Review: Shem Creek


Shem Creek by Dorothea Benton Frank
4 stars


Reasons for reading: I enjoy her books; I love South Carolina; Body of Water title for What's in a Name? Challenge


First line: "Can I just tell you why I am so deliriously happy to drive all through the night from New Jersey to South Carolina?"

My thoughts: I sometimes feel like I'm going to end up in Charleston, South Carolina. I've only been there once, but I loved it so much. And I still love reading about it and Dorothea Benton Frank makes it a pleasure. She clearly loves it, too. You can feel the heat, see the creek, and she puts in all kinds of Charleston-specific details. For example, they pick up food from Bessinger's Barbeque, which we wanted to try but their parking lot was blocked by a classic car show, so we had to go to Fiery Ron's Home Team BBQ, in a converted gas station. I love how reading Frank's Lowcountry books remind me of little details like that.

I liked that this book was told largely from Linda's point of view, but then had interjections from other characters like Gracie and Brad. It didn't have the "who is this?"-ness of alternating chapter books, but it gave an extra twist to the story.

Now, the book was fairly predictable - you knew there would be a love connection between Linda and Brad from the moment she applied to work at the restaurant. And you know that everything will work out okay, even when there are a few near (and more than near) disasters. But outspoken, fiercely maternal Linda is a great character, as is Brad, who was burned by an awful marriage and wants to slow down and enjoy life. The teenage kids each have their own personalities, led by bratty-but-improving firecracker Gracie. It was great to see Linda build a new life for herself and her girls after freeing herself from a dreary job and a jerky ex-husband is freezing New Jersey. The scenes in the restaurant are well-done, I'd like to visit it, especially for the sunset deck! And sassy sous chef Louise's constant bickering with chef Duane and his new-fangled ideas is amusing. Overall it's an entertaining read with very likeable characters and a very nice (if slightly unconventional) romance.

I definitely can't wait to read more Lowcountry Tales!