Tuesday, August 25, 2015
Few writers capture the complexities, pain, and joy of relationships—between friends, family members, husbands and wives, or lovers—as beloved New York Times bestselling author Dorothea Benton Frank. In this charming, evocative, soul-touching novel, she once again takes us deep into the heart of the magical Lowcountry where three amazing middle-aged women are bonded by another amazing woman’s death.
Through their shared loss they forge a deep friendship, asking critical questions. Who was their friend and what did her life mean? Are they living the lives they imagined for themselves? Will they ever be able to afford to retire? How will they maximize their happiness? Security? Health? And ultimately, their own legacies?
A plan is conceived and unfurls with each turn of the tide during one sweltering summer on the Isle of Palms. Without ever fully realizing how close they were to the edge, they finally triumph amid laughter and maybe even newfound love. -- William Morrow
Every summer, I look forward to reading a Dorothea Benton Frank novel. I have always enjoyed her characters and her settings; and I love that personality shines through in her books. (I know that because I've had the chance to meet her... she's a larger-than-life personality!) Her latest novel is ALL THE SINGLE LADIES and it's a fun summer read.
At its heart, ALL THE SINGLE LADIES is a book about women and the friendships they share. It's both touching and funny and the characters are guaranteed to stick with you. The setting, the Carolina Lowcountry, is once again a major element of the story. I think fans of Dot Frank are going to really enjoy this one.
ALL THE SINGLE LADIES tells the story of three single women, Lisa, Suzanne, and Carrie, who meet when their friend Kathy dies. Linda was one of Kathy's caretakers while Suzanne and Carrie worked with her at a florist shop. When the three women agree to clean out Kathy's belongings, they encounter a mean (and unethical) landlady who is claiming some of Kathy's treasures as her own. The women are suspicious and begin their own investigation!
As the women try to recover her belongings, a strong friendship forms between the three. Through good times and bad, these women mourn their friend; and, at the same time, they forge ahead with their lives and their relationships.
I enjoyed ALL THE SINGLE LADIES but I'm not sure it was my favorite novel by Ms. Frank. The first few chapters were definitely promising and I found myself loving the humor, the tone, and the descriptions; however, I didn't feel as if the entire book had quite the same charm. The ending was a little too pat for my taste, but I guess in a book like this, any other ending might not have been satisfying. I don't want to make it sound like I didn't like the book because I did. I just didn't love it like some of her other ones.
One thing I did appreciate about this novel was Ms. Frank's writing. I absolutely adore her descriptions of the Lowcountry, and I could almost feel the humidity and heat of the summer. It's apparent that she loves this part of our country and her passion just shines through on every page. And then there's the food! Mmmmmm.... Naturally, when there's a story about three middle-aged women, food should play a part in the story; and Ms. Frank manages to capture this perfectly. I loved her descriptions of everything from donuts to chicken, and I was a bit resentful that I was hungry almost the entire time I read this book!
Once again, Ms. Frank created some fantastic characters. The three women are all interesting in their own ways, and I really appreciated how their friendship was formed out of something so tragic. I found myself rooting for each woman against the landlady but also in their budding relationships with the men in their lives. And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention a very special character -- Pickles, the dog. Talk about precious!
And finally, I loved the humor in the novel. This book was funny -- often times, laugh out loud funny. Many of the scenes were hilarious (especially a few with the landlady), but Linda's thoughts were quite entertaining too. Her insights into life and her relationships were definitely worthy a smile or two.
ALL THE SINGLE LADIES would make a fun book club selection. There is a reading guide available with twelve questions. I suspect that middle aged women will find many things that resonate with them in this novel, so discussion should be lively. Some of the themes you might want to explore include friendship, love, loss, grief, second chances, divorce, parent/child relationships, and even the legalization of marijuana.
ALL THE SINGLE LADIES is a fun book with characters that will capture your heart. Recommended to fans of Ms. Frank and women's fiction.
Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.