Full of Grace

( 45 )

Overview

The rich atmosphere of South Carolina, both Hilton Head and Charleston, is brought vividly to life by Dorothea Benton Frank, a South Carolina native who, with her exquisitely evocative prose, makes you smell the sea air, see the palmettos, and savor the sweet tea, but this time it comes with a side of antipasti.

Hilton Head, South Carolina. Retirement heaven — at least it's supposed to be, but for Big Al and Connie, the move from New Jersey to this southern paradise has been ...

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2008 Audiobook CD Abridged. Very good in fine dust jacket. 5 CDs. Audience: General/trade. The Box or Case is (not damaged). This Audio Book on CDs Contains (no Scratches). The ... Booklet is (not including). Return this item Read more Show Less

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Overview

The rich atmosphere of South Carolina, both Hilton Head and Charleston, is brought vividly to life by Dorothea Benton Frank, a South Carolina native who, with her exquisitely evocative prose, makes you smell the sea air, see the palmettos, and savor the sweet tea, but this time it comes with a side of antipasti.

Hilton Head, South Carolina. Retirement heaven — at least it's supposed to be, but for Big Al and Connie, the move from New Jersey to this southern paradise has been fraught with just a few complications. Especially for their daughter, Grace.

Well, that's what she likes to be called. Her family insists on Maria Graziella. Seriously, enough with the Neopolitan. That might have been okay in New Jersey but now it's just plain silly and Grace at thirty-one is, horror of horrors, still unmarried. No wonder her family drives her crazy. Well, that and the fact that she's living with the man she would marry if they both weren't so commitment phobic. Michael is a doctor and a scientist and Grace has a good idea that he's also an atheist. Over the years, Grace has become a bit ambivalent about her faith but her family is as old-fashioned Italian as they get. The stage is set for a major showdown that might just change Grace's outlook on life, family, and the new South.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Though Grace has managed to shed the name Maria Graziella, she's still a good Catholic girl puzzling over whether she can marry live-in boyfriend Michael, a scientist/doctor who just might be an atheist. The author tour will hit close to 20 cities. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061571206
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 6/24/2008
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Abridged
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 5.70 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Dorothea Benton Frank

New York Times bestselling author Dorothea Benton Frank was born and raised on Sullivans Island, South Carolina. She divides her time between the New York area and the Lowcountry.

Biography

An author who has helped to put the South Carolina Lowcountry on the literary map, Dorothea Benton Frank hasn't always lived near the ocean, but the Sullivan's Island native has a powerful sense of connection to her birthplace. Even after marrying a New Yorker and settling in New Jersey, she returned to South Carolina regularly for visits, until her mother died and she and her siblings had to sell their family home. "It was very upsetting," she told the Raleigh News & Observer. "Suddenly, I couldn't come back and walk into my mother's house. I was grieving."

After her mother's death, writing down her memories of home was a private, therapeutic act for Frank. But as her stack of computer printouts grew, she began to try to shape them into a novel. Eventually a friend introduced her to the novelist Fern Michaels, who helped her polish her manuscript and find an agent for it.

Published in 2000, Frank's first "Lowcountry tale," Sullivan's Island made it to the New York Times bestseller list. Its quirky characters and tangled family relationships drew comparisons to the works of fellow southerners Anne Rivers Siddons and Pat Conroy (both of whom have provided blurbs for Frank's books). But while Conroy's novels are heavily angst-ridden, Frank sweetens her dysfunctional family tea with humor and a gabby, just-between-us-girls tone. To her way of thinking, there's a gap between serious literary fiction and standard beach-blanket fare that needs to be filled.

"I don't always want to read serious fiction," Frank explained to The Sun News of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. "But when I read fiction that's not serious, I don't want to read brain candy. Entertain me, for God's sake." Since her debut, she has faithfully followed her own advice, entertaining thousands of readers with books Pat Conroy calls "hilarious and wise" and characters Booklist describes as "sassy and smart,."

These days, Frank has a house of her own on Sullivan's Island, where she spends part of each year. "The first thing I do when I get there is take a walk on the beach," she admits. Evidently, this transplanted Lowcountry gal is staying in touch with her soul.

Good To Know

Before she started writing, Frank worked as a fashion buyer in New York City. She is also a nationally recognized volunteer fundraiser for the arts and education, and an advocate of literacy programs and women's issues.

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Read an Excerpt

Full of Grace

A Novel
By Dorothea Frank

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Dorothea Frank
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060892358

Chapter One

Firecrackers

Everything Michael just told you is true, but you have to understand our lives in its whole context for this story to make any sense. What happened to us was so unexpected that I think it's worth understanding how we came together and why everything could only have happened as it did.

So let me take you back to the beginning and, for the moment, offer this singular thought. There are still a few pockets of the earth that transcend the realities of the modern world. To my complete astonishment, the Lowcountry of South Carolina is one of them. No one who knows the area would argue. Not every square inch of it is spiritually uplifting because it's got its commercial sprawl like all cities. But just minutes south of historic Charleston's ageless glories and the plastic outskirts of suburbia, the neon world of consumerism begins to melt away.

Soon, moving along on Savannah Highway, there is a small rise in the road. Rantowles Creek. The deep blue water is vast, shimmering like fields of sequins, their tiny edges catching flashes of the afternoon light. Every single time I passed over the tiny bridge I would literally gasp with surprise. It was so vibrant with life and naturally beautiful.

For the trillionth or so time, I wondered why I didn't sublet my carriage house in downtown Charleston, move out here and sink roots in this blue and green paradise. But as soon as I asked myself the question, the answer was on the tip of my tongue. The answer was simple. I was still in the game, running with the ball like my hair was on fire. Besides, I was still too urban. I mean, moving to Charleston had been a concession to my family after decades of living in and around New York, working for a luxury travel service that paid very little but took me everywhere I ever wanted to go: Cambodia, Chile, the Galapagos, Patagonia, Istanbul -- dream it up, I can arrange it and you will travel like royalty. It was a niche business, but a very nice niche.

Eventually, I moved to the Lowcountry. I had been terrified to leave New York and in other ways just as terrified to stay. My family knew it, too. Truly there wasn't much happening in my personal life except the packing and unpacking of luggage. So as usual, my father decided to take the matter of my future into his own lovable hands. He begged me to just try Charleston for a while, and after the big showdown, I finally caved. Here's how that happened.

He called me one morning and said, "You gonna be home tonight?"

I said, "Yeah? Who wants to know?"

"The FBI. Be home at seven and that's it. Don't ask no more questions."

So without any further hullabaloo, Big Al flew to New York and showed up that night with a sack of Chinese takeout. I opened the door to my apartment on lower Fifth Avenue and there he stood. Delighted to see the man who loved me more than anyone ever had, I threw my arms around his neck and hugged him with all my might. I was a mainlining daddy's girl and not apologetic in the least.

After a feast of hot-and-sour soup, steamed dumplings, Peking duck, pork lo mein, and a lot of chitchat, he stood up and read his fortune cookie aloud.

" 'The Buddha sees Big Al's only daughter in Charleston living happily in a carriage house on Wentworth Street that her wonderful father already bought for an investment and will allow her to live in rent-free but she has to pay the utilities.' Humph! Well, what do you say about that, princess?"

What could I say? Even though I was an adult, I still loved the fact that my dad wanted to spoil me rotten. And that he missed me. The next day I called Eric Bomze, who owned the company I worked for, and who by coincidence had relocated to Charleston after opening another office in Atlanta. He said, Come to Charleston immediately. That was the end of the New York chapter of my life. I called a mover and began to pack.

To my surprise and delight, it turned out that Charleston had everything I thought I needed and more. Like New York, it had neighborhoods and corner stores. It was old but not decrepit. What it didn't have was snow, ice or, to date, terrorists.

It was little things that made me happy -- frothy cappuccinos and the New York Times at my fingertips. I loved chamber music and theater. Salsa dancing, tennis and biking. Restaurants and shopping. Charleston had that and lots more, and best of all, I could walk to work. And once Michael became my "other," he could be at the Medical University in five minutes. We didn't pay a fortune to park or live on gridlock alert during the holiday season. So living downtown was the perfect decision for us.

We couldn't be bothered with a house and a yard. And I hated to admit it, but a suburban house would have destroyed our relationship in about two days. It wasn't about who was going to cut the grass or clean out the garage. No, it was fastidiously manicured neighborhoods with married couples having block parties, backyard barbecues with coordinated paper products, children, dogs and bicycles strewn helter-skelter like randomly placed garden sculpture. That whole scene had the malodorous quality of long-term commitment. The M word. Like cheap chocolate -- it looked good, but ultimately it made your teeth hurt. Marriage was not for me. Or Michael.

We didn't want to live among a sliding-scale population of predictable failures. Like stick-figure couples in a PowerPoint presentation, diminishing with each screen until over half of them disappeared by the end. We were together because we wanted to be together, not because we were stuck under the heel of a legal . . .

Continues...


Excerpted from Full of Grace by Dorothea Frank Copyright © 2006 by Dorothea Frank. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 45 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(13)

4 Star

(14)

3 Star

(8)

2 Star

(5)

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(5)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 45 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 27, 2013

    Anonymous

    Absolutely LOVED this book! Now I want to go to Mexico to visit the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe! Enjoyed all of the books I've read so far -- can't wait to read the new one that just came out!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 25, 2012

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading "Full of Grace". The Rus

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading "Full of Grace". The Russo family are a very interesting and believe was an example an Italian-American family. It was never dull to read about.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2012

    highly recommended

    Another great book. I love the author.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2012

    One of Benton Frank's better books

    I enjoyed the charachters and the story.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 15, 2011

    It makes you think.

    I really liked this book. All of her books are about some kind of growth, and this was no exception. This book helps you to see miracles can happen to anyone.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2011

    My least favorite Dorothea Benton Frank book

    I have read almost all of Dorothea Benton Frank's books and this is by far my least favorite. The storyline drags from the beginning. I kept reading in hopes the characters would become more interesting - but I was disappointed. Oh well, "can't win them all".

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2007

    Enjoyable!!

    Unlike some others, I enjoyed this book very much. It was wonderful descriptive writing. It was the first book I had read by this author. The content was very interesting and good reading about a family that I could relate to , being of Italian descent. I liked it a lot!!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2007

    True to this Italian American from New Jersey!

    I am a huge fan of Frank. When I saw the review in regards to Franks knowledge of Italians and northerners I was worried but as I read this, I knew she did not let me down. Her descriptions of the Italian family life were spot on. As were her descriptions of northern points of view. (I'm originally from Morristown NJ). The only thing I thought was a stretch was her mothers secret but that is just my view. Other than that I thought the book was great and hoping there might be a sequel in the future!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2006

    Oh yeah!

    I loved this book -- I am surprised to see such low ratings here. I found the book so easy to read -- lots of emotions -- happy and sad. I sure do recommend this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2013

    Full of Grace was not her best.

    I have read all of Dorothea's books. This one I was most disappointed in. Very dull. Seems like she was trying to fill space with this book while working on a another project. I would not recommend it. This is the first TIME I have been disappointed in all these years. Dorothy you can do better, I know because I have followed you all these years.
    Mary in Charleston, SC

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 19, 2012

    Recomment, light reading

    I enjoyed this book!

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  • Posted March 2, 2009

    full of grace

    Interesting, enjoyable.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2007

    Predictable and dull

    I am uncertain whether this was a poorly written novel or a poorly written brochure for Catholicism. Everything about this book was terrible. The storyline was predictable, the characters were flat and uninteresting and the not so hidden agenda keeps hitting you over the head in a not so subtle way. I regret ever reading this dull book and hope other don¿t make the same mistake.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2007

    Thought-provoking

    I enjoyed the Russo family and Grace's struggle with Catholicism, agnosticism and atheism. However, the last chapter was a big bomb that left me dissatisfied on several levels.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2007

    Easy to Read

    Dorothea Benton Frank is an excellent writer. I love all her books. This one was somewhat different but still a good book. She writes so well and her books are easy to read and become involved in. I am impatiently waiting for the next one.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2006

    Really Liked it Until the Rushed Ending

    I read the book in about 2.5 days, but I felt the end was rushed. I was hoping for an engagement ring, hopes of them having children...just felt like some things went unanswered. I did learn a lot about the South and the history. I also enjoyed Grace's transformation into spirituality, I just felt it was rushed. I look foward to reading other books by this author.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2006

    Average

    Definitely not one of Dot Frank's best books. This book totally lacked the southern roots that the rest of her books have. Other than making the occasional reference to Charleston and Hilton Head, there was no real information that made you fall in love with the area. The rest of her books are so well done and she is such a great storyteller -this simply was not her best work.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2006

    insightful character study

    In South Carolina, New Jersey expatriates Big Al and Connie Russo worry about their daughter Maria Graziella living in sin with scientist Dr. Michael. They want their daughter to marry and no matter how many Hail Mary¿s and rosary beads used, so far Grace as she prefers to be called now that they no longer live among the Neapolitan-Americans refuses to honor her mother and father by saying I do. --- Thirty-two years old Grace loves her parents but also enjoys her commitment free relationship with Michael. He reciprocates though he muses she has saved him a fortune on little things like unnecessary dry cleaning and when no one is around, he admits that he loves his Grace. Adding to her parents concern over her lifestyle is that Grace has also stopped going to church they blame the ¿atheist¿ she shacks up with. A family crisis forces a generational confrontation between the Catholic old country Italian-American parents and their assimilated Americanized offspring. --- Though South Carolina is the location for this fine generational relationship war, unlike Dorothea Benton Frank¿s ¿Lowcountry tales, the geography is irrelevant for the most part except to take the family out of Jersey, but not the Jersey out of the family. The story line focuses on commitments as Grace avoids them to her family, her lover, and even the church as if the word means disease. The story line focuses on Grace¿s relationships with those she loves from the perspective of her lack of enthusiasm towards strengthening any of them. Though the tale lacks action, fans who appreciate an insightful look at the importance of committing one¿s heart and soul to those they love will want to read Dorothea Benton Frank¿s pleasant story. --- Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2006

    I Liked the Book

    In comparison to Frank's other books, this book has sort of an unusual flavor, but I liked it and enjoyed the read. There is a definite message in the book that is seemingly religous on the surface, but I read a broader texture in Frank's writing. I think that this is a book about committment pure and simple--no matter the issue in a person's life.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2006

    Disappointed

    Loved her previous books, but this one was a big dissappointment. Dorothea Benton Frank doesn't know northerners and most assuredly does not know Italians! Stick to what you do best-writing about the wonderful coastal South.

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