Low Country and Up Island

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Overview

The remarkable New York Times bestselling fiction of Anne Rivers Siddons has captured the hearts and imaginations of readers the world over, transporting them to lush and beautifully evoked settings while entwining them in the lives of truly unforgettable characters. Now two of the author's most beloved and critically acclaimed masterworks have been combined in one volume.

In Up Island, Molly Bell Redwine — who has always believed that "family is everything" — is abruptly set ...

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Overview

The remarkable New York Times bestselling fiction of Anne Rivers Siddons has captured the hearts and imaginations of readers the world over, transporting them to lush and beautifully evoked settings while entwining them in the lives of truly unforgettable characters. Now two of the author's most beloved and critically acclaimed masterworks have been combined in one volume.

In Up Island, Molly Bell Redwine — who has always believed that "family is everything" — is abruptly set adrift by the abandonment of a faithless husband, the death of her domineering mother, and the scattering of her Atlanta clan. Taking refuge with a friend on Martha's Vineyard, Molly's search for strength and a new identity must sustain her through the harsh island winter until she finds renewal in the healing spring.

Low Country is the story of Caroline Venable, wealthy, pampered, and dutiful Southern wife, who must make hard decisions and reimagine the life she's never questioned when the beloved wild island that is her heritage and her refuge is suddenly threatened.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780641901553
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/28/2006
  • Edition description: 2 BKS IN 1
  • Pages: 960
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 1.53 (d)

Meet the Author

Anne Rivers Siddons

Anne Rivers Siddons's bestselling novels include Nora, Nora; Sweetwater Creek; Islands; and Fox's Earth. She is also the author of the nonfiction work John Chancellor Makes Me Cry. She and her husband divide their time between Charleston, South Carolina, and Brooklin, Maine.

Biography

Born in 1936 in a small town near Atlanta, Anne Rivers Siddons was raised to be a dutiful daughter of the South -- popular, well-mannered, studious, and observant of all the cultural mores of time and place. She attended Alabama's Auburn University in the mid-1950s, just as the Civil Rights Movement was gathering steam. Siddons worked on the staff of Auburn's student newspaper and wrote an editorial in favor of integration. When the administration asked her to pull the piece, she refused. The column ran with an official disclaimer from the university, attracting national attention and giving young Siddons her first taste of the power of the written word.

After a brief stint in the advertising department of a bank, Siddons took a position with the up and coming regional magazine Atlanta, where she worked her way up to senior editor. Impressed by her writing ability, an editor at Doubleday offered her a two-book contract. She debuted in 1975 with a collection of nonfiction essays; the following year, she published Heartbreak Hotel, a semi-autobiographical novel about a privileged Southern coed who comes of age during the summer of 1956.

With the notable exception of 1978's The House Next Door, a chilling contemporary gothic compared by Stephen King to Shirley Jackson's classic horror novel The Haunting of Hill House, Siddons has produced a string of well-written, imaginative, and emotionally resonant stories of love and loss -- all firmly rooted in the culture of the modern South. Her books are consistent bestsellers, with 1988's Peachtree Road (1988) arguably her biggest commercial success. Described by her friend and peer, Pat Conroy, as "the Southern novel for our generation," the book sheds illuminating light on the changing landscape of mid-20th-century Atlanta society.

Although her status as a "regional" writer accounts partially for Siddons' appeal, ultimately fans love her books because they portray with compassion and truth the real lives of women who transcend the difficulties of love and marriage, family, friendship, and growing up.

Good To Know

Although she is often compared with another Atlanta author, Margaret Mitchel, Siddons insists that the South she writes about is not the romanticized version found in Gone With the Wind. Instead, her relationship with the region is loving, but realistic. "It's like an old marriage or a long marriage. The commitment is absolute, but the romance has long since worn off...I want to write about it as it really is: I don't want to romanticize it."

Siddons' debut novel Heartberak Hotel was turned into the 1989 movie Heart of Dixie, starry Ally Sheedy, Virginia Madsen, and Phoebe Cates.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Sybil Anne Rivers Siddons (full name)
    2. Hometown:
      Charleston, South Carolina and a summer home in Maine overlooking Penobscot Bay
    1. Date of Birth:
      January 9, 1936
    2. Place of Birth:
      Atlanta, Georgia
    1. Education:
      B.A., Auburn University, 1958; Atlanta School of Art, 1958

Read an Excerpt

Up Island and Low Country


By Anne Rivers Siddons

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright ©2006 Anne Rivers Siddons
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060894687

Chapter One

You know how people are always saying "I knew it by the back of my neck" when they mean those occasional scalding slashes of intuition that later prove to be true? My mother is always saying it, though she is not always right. Nevertheless, in my half-Celt family, the back of one's neck is a hallowed harbinger of things to come.

I first knew my husband was being unfaithful to me, not by the back of my neck, but by the skin of my buttocks, which, given the ultimate sorry progress of things, was probably prophetic. I always thought it was grossly unfair that Tee got all the fun and I got dermatitis of the posterior, but there you are. According again to my mother, it was a pattern we had laid down in stone in the early days of our marriage.

I had been having fierce itching and red welts off and on since Christmas, but at first I put it down to the five pound box of candied ginger Tee's boss sent us and a savage new panty girdle that enabled me to get into my white beaded silk pantsuit. Later, when the itching and welting did not go away, I switched bath soap and body lotion, and still later had the furnace and air conditioning unit cleaned and found some plain unbleached cotton sheets for our bed. Still I felt as if I had beensitting in poison ivy, and often caught myself absently scratching in public as well as private. Teddy, my eighteen-year-old son, was mortified, and my best friend, Carrie Davies, asked me more than once, her elegant eyebrow raised, what was wrong. Tee would have teased me unmercifully, but he was not around much that winter and spring. Coca Cola was bringing out two new youth-oriented soft drinks, and Tee and his team were involved in the test marketing, which meant near-constant travel to the designated markets across the country. I could have scratched my behind and picked my nose at the same time on the steps of St. Philips and poor Tee, jet-lagged and teen-surfeited, would not have noticed.

When I woke myself in the middle of a hot May night clawing my skin so that the blood ran, I made an appointment with Charlie Davies, and was distressed enough so that he worked me in at lunchtime the next day.

"Well, Moonbeam, drop your britches and lay down here and let's see what we got," he roared, and I did, not really caring that the paper gown Charlie's nurse had provided me gapped significantly when I tied it around my waist. Charlie and Tee had been roommates at the University of Georgia, and I had known Tee only two weeks longer than I had Charlie. Charlie had married Carrie Carmichael, my Tri Delta sister, a week after Tee and I had married . . . we had all been in each other's weddings . . . and we had kept the friendship going all through med school and internship and then practice for Charlie and the early and middle years at the Coca Cola Company for Tee. Charlie had probably seen my bare bottom more than once, given the houseparties and vacations we four spent together.

He had called me Moonbeam after Al Capp's dark, statuesque and gloriously messy backwoods siren, Moonbeam McSwine, since the first time we met. I allow no one else to do so, not even Tee.

I rolled over onto my stomach and Charlie pulled back the paper gown and gave a long, low whistle. "Shit, Molly, has Big Tee been floggin' you, or what? You look like you been diddlin' in the briar patch."

Despite his redneck patter, Charlie is a very good doctor, or he would not have any patients. Atlanta is full of crisp, no-nonsense out-of-towners who would draw the line, I thought, at being told to get nekkid and lay on down, unless the one saying it was supremely good at what he did. Charlie was. In time, the good-ole-boy gambit became a trademark, a trick, something people laughed indulgently about at parties. If it secretly annoyed me more than it amused, I never thought to verbalize it.

"How bad does it look?" I said.

"Honey, how bad can your sweet ass look? The day Tee married you the entire Chi Phi house went into mournin' for that booty. Though now that you mention it, there seems to be a good bit more of it these days, huh?"

And he slapped me gently on the buttock. I felt it quiver like jellied consomme under his thick fingers. There was indeed more of me now than when I had married. Where once people had looked at me and seen a tall, sinewy sun-bronzed Amazon with a shock of wild blue-black hair and electric blue eyes, now they saw a big woman--a really big woman--with wild, gray-black hair, all teeth and leathery-tanned skin and swimming, myopic eyes behind outsize tortoise shell glasses. Then, they had stared at the slap-dash, coltish grace and vividness that had been mine. Now they simply stared at big.

"Christ, it's a goddamned Valkyrie," I had overheard someone say at last year's performance of The Ring when it came to Atlanta. Tee and I had both laughed. I seldom thought about the added pounds, since they did not for a moment inhibit my life, and Tee never seemed to notice.

"I mean the rash, or whatever it is, you horny hound," I said now to Charlie.

"Well, I've seen worse," he said. "Saw jungle rot once, when I was a resident at Grady."

"Come on, Charlie, what is it? What do I do about it? I never had anything like this before."

"I don't know yet," he said, poking and prodding. "I'd say some kind of contact dermatitis, only you don't have a history of allergies, that I remember. I'm going to give you a little cortisone by injection and some pills and ointment, and if it's not healed by the time you've finished them I'm going to send you to Bud Allison. We need to clear this up. I don't imagine Tee is aesthetically thrilled by the state of your behind, is he?"

"I don't think he's even noticed," I said. "He's been out of town so much with these new Coke things that all we've had time to do is wave in passing. It's supposed to slack off in a couple of weeks though, and I wish we could get rid of this by then. He'll think I have been rolling around in the alien corn patch."

"Gon' sting a little bit," Charlie said, and I felt the cool prick of a needle. Then Charlie said, "I thought he was back by now. I saw him the other day over at that new condominium thing in midtown, the one that looks like a cow's tit caught in a wringer, you know. I guess he was helping Caroline move in there; he was toting a palm tree so big only his beady eyes were peekin' out of it, and she was bent double laughing. She's a honey, isn't she? The image of you at that age, thank God. Y'all must be real proud of her. She working around midtown?"

He pricked me again.

"That must have been somebody else's beady eyes peeking out of that palm tree, Charlie," I said. "Ow. That does sting. Caroline is married and living in Memphis, with a brand new baby. Honestly. You knew that; y'all sent the baby a silver cup from Tiffany. Must have killed you to pay for it."

Charlie took his hand off my buttocks. He was silent for a space of time, then he said, "You get dressed and come on in the office, and I'll write you out those prescriptions."

I heard his heavy steps leaving the examining room. I heaved myself up off the table. It hit me as I swung my bare legs over the side. The skin of my face felt as if a silent explosion had gone off in the little room. I actually felt the wind and the percussion of it. The room brightened as if flood lamps had been switched on, and when I took a breath there was only stale hollowness in my lungs. A new hot, red welt sizzled across my left buttock.

"Tee has somebody else," I thought. "He has had, since Christmas, at least. That was Tee Charlie saw. He knows it was. And that was her Tee was moving into that condo."

I sat for a moment with my hands in my paper lap, one cupped on top of the other, a gesture like you make in communion, waiting to receive the Host. I could not seem to focus my eyes. My ears rang. Through it all the skin of my behind raged and shrieked.

I stood up and dropped my paper gown and put on my clothes and went out of the little room and down the hall and out through the reception area to the elevator. I never got the prescriptions Charlie wrote for me.

When the elevator came, I got on with a handful of lunch-bound people, some in white coats, and stared vacantly at the quilted bronze doors, and thought, "the family. What is this going to mean for the family?"

By the time I stepped out onto the hot sidewalk running along Peachtree Street, I felt as if I were on fire from the back of my waist to my knees. I had the absurd and terrible notion that the weeping redness was sliding down to my ankles and puddling in my shoes, the visible stigmata of betrayal and foolishness.

Continues...


Excerpted from Up Island and Low Country by Anne Rivers Siddons Copyright ©2006 by Anne Rivers Siddons. 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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