Dorothea Benton Frank has a new novel just in time for summer reading. PORCH LIGHTS is set on Sullivan’s Island, just off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina.
Jackie McMullen suffers a horrendous loss when her firefighting husband is killed on the job in NYC. She and her ten-year- old son, Charlie, are taking a road trip to spend the summer on Sullivan’s Island, where Jackie’s mother lives smack dab on the ocean.
Jackie McMullen has lost not only her husband but her job. After serving several terms in Afghanistan as a nurse, she has been sent home to raise her son alone.
Spicy characters ooze from the woodwork of this Lowcountry tale like sap from a ripe tree. Jackie’s mom Annie, affectionately renamed Glam, brings plenty of pepper to this story about family and forgiveness. Jackie’s mom and dad have been living apart for over ten years. What would make them reconcile? Of course there is a love interest. Dr. Steve lives in the beach house right next door. And Annie’s best friend Deb becomes an important cohesive element when she endures a hardship of her own.Dorothea Benton Frank
I almost forgot to mention Dr. Steve’s two dogs. These lovable creatures bring so much energy and love to the equation. Steve comes up with a brilliant idea to pay Charlie to walk the dogs during the day while he is at work, giving the dogs a much needed diversion as well as keeping Charlie busy and teaching him responsibility.
Struggles abound in this no-nonsense novel. Frank has managed to bring the things we all love about the beach to the surface with each page: crashing surf, beach play; enough Lowcountry seafood to keep your mouth watering nonstop throughout; and a house right on the ocean with plenty of character itself.
Charlie is a lovable boy who is still reeling from the loss of his dad, who had been a very strong presence in his young life. After all, his mom had been in Afghanistan on and off for years. Having his mom and both grandparents with him in a new location is the best possible solution for his healing. But his mom is a tough cookie and doesn’t always see the forest for the trees.
Buster, who is Charlie’s grandfather, is just what Charlie needs. After all, a guy needs to fish and see baseball games. But Buster and Annie don’t see eye to eye on much. Will that change?
I love how Frank has incorporated Edgar Allen Poe into this story. Poe lived on Sullivan’s Island many years ago. So much of his history is told here by Jackie’s mother Annie. If I hadn’t recently added a photo of Poe’s Tavern to another post I would add it here.
Frank has written PORCH LIGHTS with a sense of humor as well as just the right amount of levity. So many families deal with estrangement and misunderstanding. I totally enjoyed seeing this story unwind.
On a very exciting note Dorothea Benton Frank will be appearing and speaking in Naples in less than two weeks. The best part about that is that I will be attending!
My lovely finished hard copy of PORCH LIGHTS arrived from the wonderful publishing people at Harper Collins. Thank you so much!