Saturday, August 4, 2012

Porch Lights - Review

Title: Porch Lights
Author: Dorothea Benton Frank
Source: Library

Goodreads Summary:

When Jimmy McMullen, a fireman with the NYFD, is killed in the line of duty, his wife, Jackie, and ten-year-old son, Charlie, are devastated. Charlie idolized his dad, and now the outgoing, curious boy has become quiet and reserved. Trusting in the healing power of family, Jackie decides to return to her childhood home on Sullivans Island.

Crossing the bridge from the mainland, Jackie and Charlie enter a world full of wonder and magic—lush green and chocolate grasslands and dazzling red, orange, and magenta evening skies; the heady pungency of Lowcountry Pluff mud and fresh seafood on the grill; bare toes snuggled in warm sand and palmetto fronds swaying in gentle ocean winds.

Awaiting them is Annie Britt, the family matriarch who has kept the porch lights on to welcome them home. Thrilled to have her family back again, Annie promises to make their visit perfect—even though relations between mother and daughter have never been what you'd call smooth. Over the years, Jackie and Annie, like all mothers and daughters, have been known to have frequent and notorious differences of opinion. But her estranged and wise husband, Buster, and her flamboyant and funny best friend Deb are sure to keep Annie in line. She's also got Steven Plofker, the flirtatious and devilishly tasty widowed physician next door, to keep her distracted as well.

My thoughts:

One of the oldest traditions of finding your way home involves leaving a light in the window - a candle, a hurricane lamp, an electric lamp, and porch lights.  In Frank's novel, Porch Lights, she uses this tradition to symbolize Jackie's return from the darkness, to her home.  

Jackie and her son Charlie have suffered the devastating loss of Jimmy, Jackie's husband and Charlie's father. They are living in the home they made as a family in New York, trying to put their lives back together.  Jackie and Charlie are understandably having a rough time, and Jackie realizes they need to get away from it all for a bit, to return to her family home of Sullivan's Island, to help her child heal.

She doesn't have the best relationship with her mother, thinking her too flighty and dramatic, but has a pretty solid relationship with her father. At least at first. Jackie begins to appreciate her mother and see her in a new light, during their weeks together.  And she also starts to heal herself.  Her son is flourishing on the island, and does not want to return home. And I don't blame him, it sounded like paradise on the island. Sitting on the porch, drinking coffee in the morning, cocktails at night, with an ocean breeze blowing over you, all relaxed and lazy. Morning walks on the beach, all the Poe trivia - I wanted to move in with Annie too!!  

I had no idea that Edgar Allen Poe ever lived on Sullivan's Island.  I found the bits of information about Poe and his life on the island very interesting, and definitely inspired me to read The Gold-Bug. I haven't started it yet, but I will soon.  I have always been a fan of Poe's poetry, and some of his stories, like the Tell-Tale Heart.  I have always wanted to go to the Outer Banks, but now I really want to go, now that I know of Poe's Tavern.  (yes, I am a nerd)

Is this book one of the most well written I have ever read? No, and sometimes the dialogue drives me nuts. But the characters are fun, the setting amazing, and it is entertaining and beachy and perfect for a light read.  

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