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Dorothea Frank's Sullivan's Island marked the debut of an exquisitely talented writer--and told the unforgettable story of one woman's courageous journey toward truth.

Now, in this poignant mother-daughter story, Frank evokes a lush plantation in the heart of modern-day South Carolina—where family ties and hidden truths run as deep and dark as the mighty Edisto River...

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Dorothea Frank's Sullivan's Island marked the debut of an exquisitely talented writer--and told the unforgettable story of one woman's courageous journey toward truth.

Now, in this poignant mother-daughter story, Frank evokes a lush plantation in the heart of modern-day South Carolina—where family ties and hidden truths run as deep and dark as the mighty Edisto River...

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Editorial Reviews

Pat Conroy
Dorothea Frank and I share the exact same literary territory--Sullivan's Island is hilarious and wise....
From the Publisher
"Filled with entertaining characters and lots of humor." —The State - Columbia, SC

"Think Terry McMillan meets Rebecca Wells by way of the Deep South and you'll be barking up the right bayou." —The Mirror (UK)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780425194188
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/2/2004
  • Series: Lowcountry Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 544
  • Sales rank: 768,812
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Dorothea Benton Frank is from Sullivan's Island, South Carolina. The New York Times bestselling author of Sullivan’s Island, Plantation, Isle of Palms, and Shem Creek divides her time between the New York area and the Lowcountry of South Carolina.


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

Chapter One



When I was twenty-three, I thought I was pretty hot stuff. I enrolled at Columbia University in New York, much to the chagrin of Mother and everybody else I knew. Why the hell do you want to live in that horrible place? Why can't you get your master's at Carolina? If you want an MBA, go to Harvard! New York City is no place for a girl like you! What do you want a master's for anyway? You're just gonna get married and the whole thing will be a waste of your money!

    I was highly tempted to reply that the reason I was moving to New York was to get away from people like them! But the nice southern girl in me couldn't bring myself to do it. We tried to keep our sass to a minimum. A hopeless endeavor.

    Actually, I think the reason I did choose Columbia was simply for the experience of living in a major city and I knew the great financial minds were in New York. I had toyed with the idea of becoming an investment banker and a tree power broker. But that wasn't what Life's Great Plan had in store for me.

    I had signed up for a psychology course as an elective, joking to myself that maybe I'd finally figure out my family if I could understand the machinations of the human psyche. In particular, I wanted to understand why I was so driven to leave South Carolina and why my family was so compelled to stay.

    One hundred and seventy-five students were gathered in a small auditorium for class. The first day, lost and frazzled, I arrived a few minutes late. The professor,Richard Levine, was already lecturing. The hall was dead silent when I pushed the door open. He stopped talking and looked at me. So did everyone else. I was mortified.

    "Nice of you to join us, Miss ...?"

    "Wimbley," I said in a low voice, hoping he'd forget my name as soon as he heard it. He had an English accent and he was gorgeous. He looked a bit like Steve Martin and sounded like a diplomat. I wondered if he was married. From where I sat in the top row, I couldn't see a ring.

    "Class begins at eight, Miss Wimbley, not"—he stopped and looked at his watch—"not at eight-fifteen."

    He was smirking at me! It was obvious he knew I thought he was attractive. I could tell by the smirk.

    "Yes, thank you. Sorry, sir." I tried to hide my fascination with his face.

    "Whittaker? Kindly pass this to Miss Wimbley." He handed a sheet of paper to a fellow down front and it was passed back to me. I must've looked confused because he spoke to me again. "It's a syllabus, Miss Wimbley, not a summons for jury duty."

    The class laughed My neck got hot. Great, I thought, this guy is gonna think I'm a dope. I cleared my throat to mark my annoyance. Jokes at the expense of others were not funny to me. I suppose I was overly sensitive. How about I was just embarrassed?

    "As the great Freud said, `What does a woman want?'" he said.

    Every male in the class guffawed and elbowed each other, agreeing with the professor. He was clearly pleased with himself. I knew that unless I wanted to be taken lightly, I'd better come up with a retort. I raised my hand.

    "Yes, Miss Wimbley?"

    "And the great Proust said, `All the great things we know have come to us from neurotics!'"

    This took the class to the heights of hysteria while my professor, with the widest smile and cutest dimples, raised his arms over his head as if he were begging for mercy. The women in the class whooped and hollered.

    "Dear God! She claims that Freud was neurotic!"

    "Proust said it, sir, not me."

    He pretended to pull a knife from his heart. The class was now nearly out of control.

    "I'll see you after class, Miss Wimbley."

    I couldn't wait for the hour to end.

    We went out for coffee, and my days as Miss Bon Vivant, cyclone of the dance clubs, screeched to a fast finish. From the minute I saw him and heard him speak, I was so stupid over him, I couldn't sleep. He even made me feel like cooking! The next Monday, I invited him to my tiny studio apartment for dinner and when he accepted, I began to perspire. I couldn't boil water!

    I went to Zabar's and straight to the fattest man I could find at the butcher's counter. I figured a fat butcher would know the difference between shoe leather and a steak I waited patiently for a man who had the name Abe embroidered on his apron.

    "How much do you love this man?" he said to me.

    "Enough to cook," I said, "and Lord knows, honey, I ain't no Betty Crocker."

    "Youse southern and youse can't cook? Don't make no sense."

    "Yeah, well, I can learn?"

    "Humph." He looked me over like I should've been in the display case on crushed ice with parsley in my hair. "Too skinny," he said to no one in particular, which irked me.

    "Well, then, sell me some food, Abe! He's coming at seven!"

    "Take the veal chops. Rub 'em down with lemon juice, a little olive oil, fresh rosemary, salt and pepper. Cook 'em three minutes on each side under the broiler. Wrap 'em up in tinfoil for five minutes to rest. Give it to him with a baked potato and a salad with Roquefort dressing. Don't forget bread. You'll have dis bum eating outta da palm of ya hand."

    "Thanks, Abe," I said, "I'll let you know how it goes."

    "With my veal chops? Dar poor sucker don't stand a chance!"

    I walked home to my studio on Ninety-fourth and Columbus, whistling a little tune. Then I realized I didn't have anything to drink for dinner and what the hell went with veal anyway? I stopped at a liquor store and poked around until the salesman was finished with another customer. He sold me two bottles of a pinot noir and I was on my way again, buoyed by false confidence.

    When I got home, it hit me. I didn't have a table and chairs! God, was I stupid or what? My first-floor, L-shaped studio was so sparse the occasional visitor couldn't tell if I was moving in or out. I had a sofa and one huge armchair with a hassock, a stereo, no rug, tons of books on board-and-brick bookshelves, and a bed in the alcove. I had two hours to turn the miserable hole into something alluring. I'd ask the doorman what to do. They always knew everything.

    Lucky for me, Darios was on duty. He was from Puerto Rico and, in the true spirit of Latin men, he flirted with me every time I saw him. He held the door for me and took the shopping bag from my hands. I was gonna give him a chance to prove his nerve.

    "Good afternoon, Miss Wimbley!"

    "Darios? I'm in big trouble and I need your help!"

    In the dim light of the basement, Darios and I rummaged through the storage bins of possessions left by other tenants for safekeeping. It could've been the home furnishing department at Bloomingdale's, I had so many choices. It didn't bother me one ounce that these things belonged to other people. Tomorrow they'd go back to where they had been.

    "Come over here! This is the Goldbergs' stuff. They're in Hawaii!"


    He hauled the rug out first. "You wanna see it?"

    "Nope. It's a rug and that's all that matters."

    We chose a small round walnut table and two ladder-back chairs that were stacked on the side of the chicken-wire pen and within ten minutes my apartment looked one hundred percent better. Darios and I stepped back to observe.

    "Needs plants," he said.

    "Jesus, Darios, I can hardly afford this meal!" I was living on a tight budget imposed by Mother, probably to make me transfer to Carolina.

    "Be right back."

    The doorbell rang again and it was Darios with two enormous palms from the lobby. He put them in place on either end of the sofa and I gave him twenty dollars. At the door he said, "I'd rather have just one kiss."

    "Go on now, you bad boy, or I'll tell your wife!"

    I only felt like a criminal again for a few seconds. My mind returned to the mission, which was, even though I would have loudly and energetically denied it, to seduce Richard.

    Naturally, I had no tablecloth. I took an old quilt from the closet and it covered the table to the floor. Flowers? Of course not. But I had books and that would work. I took three small volumes from the shelves, one of Proust, one of Flannery O'Connor, and the last, a book of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's poetry. I used bronze bookends of hunting dogs to hold them upright. I wondered if he would notice the Proust.

    Fortunately I had two votive candles, two unchipped plates, and enough matching flatware. Linen napkins? Not a chance. I used clean red dishtowels, which matched the quilt, sort of, and spray-starched them to death on a towel on the floor. In the end, the living area looked pretty darn cozy.

    Then there was the matter of the bed. You can't hide a bed in a studio and mine was piled with stuffed animals from my youth. No man in his right mind could feel sexy surrounded by Snoopy dogs and Paddington Bears. I stuck them all under the bed and stood back. An improvement, to be sure, but no den of iniquity either. It was a box spring and mattress on a Harvard frame on wheels. Not even a headboard. Big deal.

    Suddenly I wished I had the time and available cash to run to Laura Ashley and cover my bed in beautiful white linens and lacy pillows. I dug through my linen closet with a fury, pulling out everything and anything that would even mildly suggest virginity. This search bore little fruit, but I did manage to find a set of sheets with scalloped edges I had forgotten about, and a deep rose, soft wool blanket. I plumped the bejesus out of my four sorry-ass beat-up pillows, sprayed them with cologne, and decided it would just have to do. In a moment of sheer brazenness, I turned the bed down. Nap, anyone? I laughed out loud and looked at my watch. Six-fifteen. Forty-five minutes until kick-off. Okay, shower, shave, and moisturize.

    Fifteen minutes later I heard the doorman buzzer. My hair was wet, I was wrapped in a towel, and Richard was early. Shit! What could I do? Nothing. I opened the door and there he stood.

    "Am I early?" he said, handing me a bouquet of the deepest red roses.

    "Oh! Thank you! Heavens to Betsy, no! Come on in! I was just, I was just, oh hell, did we say six-thirty? I'm sorry." My temperature rose to about one hundred and seven from embarrassment as I shut the door.

    "I don't remember," he said, "forgive me. Caroline?"

    "Yes?" We were staring into each other's eyes, my knees were inexplicably rubbery, and I felt like I was free-falling into space.

     "I never dreamed someone could be quite so fetching in a towel," he said in a low quiet voice.

    God damn. He sounded like James Bond again. Then I looked down at my bare feet and recovered immediately. "Doctor? Please allow this Magnolia a few moments to find her hoopskirts! Better yet, why don't you put on some music and open the wine?"

    "Ah! God knows I love a woman with wit! Where's the corkscrew?"

    "Second drawer on the left of the stove."

    I put his flowers in the sink and hopped by him to escape. He couldn't resist tugging on my towel and I yelped and laughed. I did, however, lock the door to my bathroom while I did the fastest makeup and hair job of my life. I threw the proverbial sleeveless little black dress over my head, creamed the hell out of my legs and arms, and slipped on a pair of low-heeled black suede sandals. One gold bracelet, fake diamond studs. No doubt about it, I was going to have my way with him. He probably wouldn't even put up a fight.

    When I showed up in the kitchen doorway, he handed me a goblet of red wine and exhaled. We clinked glasses, took a sip, and our eyes never left each other's face.

    "I need to cook dinner," I said. My voice was husky and uneven.

    "Would you mind terribly if I kissed you first? I've had the shape of your mouth on my mind all day."

    I gasped. I couldn't help it, but I gasped in surprise. Some seductress I was. "You have?" Oh, yeah, Miss Groovy strikes again.

    He moved in closer until I could smell his breath, which bore the unmistakable traces of toothpaste.

    "Yes, I have," he said and put his hand in the crook of my back, pulling me closer to him.

    "I smell mint," I said and then chastised myself for saying something so stupid.

    He held me back for a moment and smiled. "Are you allergic to mint?"

    "Hell, no," I said, opening my eyes wide, knowing that each syllable I uttered made me sound more and more like a perfect moron.

    "Do you like mint?" he said. I guess he thought torturing me was fun.


    "Because I have cinnamon gum in my jacket and I could chew ..."

    "Richard?" I pretended to faint, falling backward in his arm. "I'm dying here!"

    "Come here, pussycat, Uncle Richard wants to tickle your whiskers."

    That was the end of that nonsense. By the time his mouth covered mine we had tasted each other's breath, teased each other's mind, and kicked the ball to the thirty-yard line. To my complete amazement, his lips fit mine so perfectly, it was like kissing my twin. My arms were around his neck and even though I was considered tall, I had to stand on my tiptoes to reach his face with mine. It was the kiss of a lifetime, the kind you read about, not the kind you got. The longer he held me, the more emboldened I became.

    When he ran his hands down my hips and cupped my backside he said, "You're not wearing panties."

     I said, "Oops. Got dressed too fast."

    His tongue traveled my neck, stopping here and there for a nip. "I'll overlook it this time," he said. "Don't let it happen again."

    That seemed like a good breaking point to me. If we didn't stop then, we wouldn't stop all night, so I said, "Listen, bubba, we'd better give it a rest. Nice southern girls don't just peel down on the first date, you know."


    I slipped away from him and led him to the living room. "You stay here while I cook, okay?" I pushed him into the overstuffed chair and put his feet up on the hassock.

    "Caroline? What is bubba? And where is my wine?"

    I picked up his glass, refilled it, and brought it to him. "In this case, it's a term of endearment."

    Dinner was delicious and I thought briefly about Abe the butcher and how I had created this set for The Love Boat from the Goldbergs' stash and the lobby plants. Wynton Marsalis played low and moanful in the background. While we drank both bottles of wine, he told me about his childhood. He could've read me the want ads and I would've thought it was poetry.

    His story was a tearjerker. He was born in London, the only son of a successful jeweler. He lost his mother to ovarian cancer when he was only twelve years old. His father had remarried shortly after that to a divorcée with three young children of her own. He was sent to boarding school, as he and his stepmother had major differences. He distinguished himself academically and went on to medical school, where he decided he wanted to be a psychologist. Richard was doing his dissertation when he met his first wife, Lois.

    Evidently, nothing good came from that marriage except an infant son, whom he adored. As he told me all of this I was lost in his hazel eyes. They had little flecks of green and gold in them.

    Between dinner and dessert, Richard's hand found its way to under my dress. We were definitely on the road to Sodom.

    "There's something on my leg," I said, feigning fright.

    "Don't worry, I can cure your delusion," he said.

    "I'm holding out for my wedding night."

    "Marry me."


    The strange part was that I meant it. I knew, that very first night we were together, that I would marry Richard. All the southern guys I ever went out with were polite and predictable. Not that they weren't just as good-looking as Richard or appealing in other ways They were truly lovely men. Maybe it was me, that I wasn't ready to settle down. Probably.

    But there was something else about Richard. He was a little bit dangerous—like there was something in him you couldn't tame. He was so smart and so sexy, I didn't want to spend one day alive without him. I had never felt that way before and I knew I never would again. I had this instantaneous belief that here was a man who could take care of me—if he would. It was absolutely astounding.

    That night, he fell asleep on the sofa from grape overdose while I did the dishes. Propriety dictated that I should wake him up to go home. But, not me. I was so smitten and crazy about him, I covered him with a comforter, took off my dress and shoes, and went to bed nude. I rationalized the nude part by telling myself that Fate would rule the night.

    If he woke up and went home, he was a gentleman and therefore worthy husband material. If he woke up and got in bed with me, I'd know more about what kind of husband he'd be. If he slept on the sofa all night, he was a horse's ass.

    Somewhere around four in the morning, I felt him next to me. No, I smelled him first. Eau Sauvage. Jesus! How perfect was that? I pretended to be sleeping while his fingers traced my side. He snuggled up closer and we were like two spoons. I started to drift back to sleep, thinking in my haze how nice it felt to be curled up this way, how safe I felt. He started to shift his position and it didn't take long to figure out why.

    "Caroline?" he said in a whisper.


    "Sorry to wake you, dear, but I ..."

    "Come here, Richard. I want you too."

    That old bed of mine started to rock and squeak, and if our mouths seemed tailor-made for each other, the rest of our bodies were like Legos. He made me feel so exhilarated, I wanted to scream, but I couldn't have caught my breath long enough for anything more than gasping for air. Making love with Richard was like body-surfing a tidal wave—I had never been so high, so terrified, and so thrilled at the same time. Yes, indeedy, this man was a keeper. When the sun came up and woke us, the bed was five feet away from the wall and the sheets were off the mattress. If not for the Goldbergs' carpet, we would've rolled right into the living room. We laughed our heads off. I had met my match.

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Table of Contents

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Interviews & Essays

A Letter from Dorothea Benton Frank
There are four questions everybody always asks me. They are: what drives me to write about a certain topic, are my stories autobiographical, how do I go about the business of writing day-to-day, and could I please give them money. The answers are: for better understanding of the subject; yes, of course, and no, of course not; it's so hard you wouldn't believe it; and not unless you're selling time off in Purgatory.

I wrote Sullivan's Island for every reason other than the expectation of public approval or any meaningful financial reward. That yarn was crawling up my throat. If I hadn't written it, I might have choked to death on it. Someone once told me that I would write when I couldn't not write. I never should have spoken to that person again; he made me think. It was the truest and most terrifying comment anyone ever made to me. Frankly -- no pun intended -- writing hurts.

My first book, Sullivan' Island, grew from a painful attempt to deal with the loss of my mother and the subsequent loss of what I felt was "my place on the planet." This girl's place was by her Momma's side on Sullivan's Island, South Carolina -- and I've only been living in New York temporarily for the past 20-odd years. Once a Geechee Girl, always a Geechee Girl. That's just how my brain was wired, so I started writing to figure out how to reconcile my life. Seeing Sullivan's Island plop its pretty title on the New York Times list helped enormously. It did, and not merely for vanity's sake, but because what it meant was that many people understood how I felt. That kind of realization was priceless consolation to my aching heart. And, most importantly, that connection with readers through email, book signings, and book clubs, gave me the courage and desire to continue to write.

My Lowcountry Tales are not romances, but they are stories about what I love and value: family, friends, truth, kindness, forgiveness and compassion. Plantation, my new book, digs deep.

The folks populating Plantation believe themselves to be worldly and savvy. Caroline, the daughter, thinks she's happy. Ha! She thinks she has nothing in common with her mother, Miss Lavinia, and that she has no place in the Lowcountry because she's become a slick New Yorker. Ha! And the lengths to which Miss Lavinia will travel for attention were shocking even to me -- and I wrote the darn book! Needless to say, I hope readers will find the push and pull of the mother/daughter dynamic and the endless shenanigans of all the characters to be interesting, entertaining, and true.

Plantation is a good snapshot, I think, of what modern day plantation living is like. But it is also about geographically separated families, coming to terms with who you really are and what you hope to become, taking care of aging and eccentric parents, what to do about unlovable in-laws -- and, as always, about the real and true mysteries of the magical Lowcountry of South Carolina.

I suspect that I will always place my stories in the Lowcountry, because its tidal magnet pumps my heart's blood like a powerful drug. I prefer to write about issues that concern me, human qualities which go unrewarded and undervalued in today's society -- such as personal integrity, morality, the courage to name something what it is against popular opinion.

The characters I write about may have certain traits borrowed from people I have known, but the characters themselves are all fictional, just as the plots are not from events in my life, but about what I might do if they were. I figure if the story I'm working on can play itself out to a satisfactory conclusion in the Lowcountry of South Carolina then, in my mind (what's left of it), it could be happening anywhere.

At present, I'm working on a third novel, tentatively entitled Isle of Palms. It's named after another actual barrier island of the Lowcountry coast, once home to beautiful Indians and evil pirates. This time I'm tackling the lives of contemporary people dealt an unfair hand of cards. It shows their attempt to overcome their lot by having a plan, which sometimes works pretty well and at other times causes emotional upheaval and explosions. It's about change, something held in low esteem by some, not all, island residents. The story tells of the influx of lovable and not so lovable Yankees critical to the local economy, played against the congenial or cantankerous old islanders, versus the historic relevance of Charleston's illustrious past. It all makes for great fun in the telling and eventually, I hope, in the reading. If my muse will cut me a little slack, Isle of Palms should be out next summer -- 2002.

I love, love, love to hear from readers: Email is the fuel that keeps me alive and struggling to hone the old craft of creating better novels. It's also the most efficient way to directly contact me. I answer emails sent to myself -- nope, no glamorous staff or auto-responses. So, if I'm traveling, it could take some time to reply, as I am not a techno-whiz -- but I will respond!

I want to say one more thing, and that is that I am deeply and sincerely grateful for everyone's support and generous words. Have a great summer on the Plantation! And, y'all come back, yanh?

Best wishes,
Dorothea Benton Frank

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Reading Group Guide


Caroline Wimbley Levine always swore she’d never go home again. But now, at her brother’s behest, she has returned to South Carolina to see about Mother—only to find that the years have not changed the Queen of Tall Pines Plantation. Miss Lavinia is as maddeningly eccentric as ever—and absolutely will not suffer the questionable advice of her children. This does not surprise Caroline. Nor does the fact that Tall Pines is still brimming with scandals and secrets, betrayals and lies. But she soon discovers that something is different this time around. It lies somewhere in the distance between her and her mother-and in her understanding of what it means to come home…


The sands of Sullivan's Island follow me everywhere. No matter where I have traveled, worked or lived, I am only and always a woman whose home place is the beach. Growing up there gave me lots of time to dream - to dream of what my life would become. And writing this book gave me lots of time to remember. One of my happiest summer memories - besides digging holes to China and sliding down the hill fort - is of the Bookmobile. This old clanker of a bus/van would stop in front of my momma's house and I would run for my fortnightly dose of juvenile literature. Three books under my arm, I'd dive into our hammock and finish them all in one day without moving. Then I'd have to wait thirteen days until the Bookmobile returned. Waiting became a theme in my life - waiting for more books, waiting to be old enough to do this or that, for life to give me permission to pursue my dreams, for a million things. I'll probably never develop the virtue of patience, so waiting is my cross. It should be the worst thing I have ever had to bear.

Unlike my sister Lynn, I was a terrible student. Around my twelfth year, I stopped studying in school. I was the classic case of wanting to be cool, the Saving Ophelia Syndrome, rebelling against everything and a whole long list of pathetic excuses. I only reveal this now to let you know that where you start seldom has anything to do with where you land. Life is not like the trajectory of a bullet. I never stopped reading and I never stopped working. Both of these I do with frightening vigor. I managed to graduate from a fashion school on sheer luck and worked on Seventh Avenue for years. I took what skills I had used there into the world of volunteerism for a few more years, raising money for the arts and education.

That vigor is the thirst I could never quench, and the harsh realities of the business world and volunteer fundraising made me understand just how critical a complete education is. But love of words (and my compulsion to be understood) is what made this miracle of becoming a published author come true. So now I'd like to do something for other women who for whatever reason didn't get the educational experience they longed for and who can't find the courage to change their lives. And, needless to say, I'd like to do something for women and children without hope, who don't dream. Please take a moment to visit the Foundation link and share your thoughts.

So what else? I am ecstatically happy with my delicious husband Peter, and adore my two children, Victoria and William down to their last freckles. I have two Cavalier King Charles spaniels, Henry and Buster who are as cute as cookies. I play awful tennis, cheat at cards to make my children laugh, speak emergency French and Italian - lots of gesturing, love to cook and entertain. I also garden like mad, still love to visit Sullivan's Island as often as possible, and am always looking for an adventure. I still read like a lunatic - favorite authors are the ones I shamelessly tortured to give me endorsements for my book - John Berendt, Pat Conroy, Bret Lott, Fern Michaels, and Ann Rivers Siddons. I'm always on a diet and admit to being slightly neurotic. If I could have anything in the world, it would be to pick up my entire life and drop it on the beach at Sullivan's Island. Writing is the next best thing.


  • Caroline and Richard never really had much in common. What was the attraction? Was Richard a father figure? Would she have been better off marrying a Lowcountry boy? Were Richard and a life in New York an act of defiance?
  • Caroline suspected very early on that Richard was still involved with Lois, yet denial kicked in. Why? Was that part of the “Wimbley Family Law”? When it’s too tough to deal with, just pretend it’s not there?
  • Caroline’s memories of her Father are vivid. How does his death affect her feelings about him? How does it influence her relationships with other men? With which parent does she identify and why? And, do we become our parents?
  • Why is Caroline’s relationship with Lavinia so complicated? Isn’t she more like Lavinia than she chooses to admit? How does Caroline benefit from acknowledging their similarities?
  • Their father’s tragic death played a huge role in shaping Tripp and Caroline. Discuss the impact that Lavinia’s reaction had on both children. How did Nevil’s death change Lavinia’s life? Do you think she ever really recovered?
  • As Lavinia’s closest friend and an alternate mother to Caroline and Tripp, Millie is a key character in all their lives. Discuss how she influenced each of their lives.
  • Healing is at the heart of this book. Though Millie has an encyclopedic knowledge of herbal remedies, her most important healing was done simply by listening and advising. Do you think she passed on that wisdom more so than her herbal skills?
  • The ACE Basin is a full-blown character in Plantation. How does the familiar beauty of the Edisto help the Wimbley family heal? Discuss its importance as a refuge and a “home” to each member of the family.
  • Like Caroline, Tripp chose his spouse as a reaction to the void he felt in his family life. How is the healing of the family responsible, in part, for the dissolution of his miserable marriage?
  • How does Eric’s move to Tall Pines change his life? Do you think Lavinia’s ability to openly adore Eric reveals something important to her own children? What draws Eric and Tripp together? And why does Lavinia reject Tripp’s children.
  • If Lavinia, Caroline and Tripp are so civilized, why can’t they overcome their feelings about Frances Mae? Do being so very wealthy and also the family matriarch give Lavinia the right to be so judgmental? Do you think Frances Mae hates them all?
  • Caroline rediscovers Lavinia and has a new level of respect for much of Lavinia’s behavior that she did not understand in the past. Now, Caroline will assume Lavinia’s role as head of the family. How will this change Caroline and Tall Pines?
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Customer Reviews

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 115 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2008

    A reviewer

    I first read Dorothea Benton Frank 3years ago on a trip to america and I have read every book she has writtten to date so far ,but this is my favourite . She is the only author I buy the hard book edition as I can't wait for the next book.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 26, 2007


    This book was FABULOUS!!! I picked it up our Library's annual book sale on the table with books about the South!!! Who would want to live anywhere else but the South? This book is soooo rich in character descriptions and if you are from the South , you surely know a family like Miss Lavania's or you are part of one!!!! I had a Millie in my family growing up and I loved this character!

    4 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 15, 2013

    Highly Recommended

    Dorothea Benton Frank is one of my favorite authors. This is one of her most touching works. The characters are well developed and animated. The story line is moving, funny, and colorful. If you have not read Dorothea Benton Frank, this is a wonderful example of her style and wit. I look forward to each new work, just wish she could write faster.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 28, 2010

    A great story!

    I liked this one. It was a touching, emotional story that you will enjoy! It is the story of Caroline who never wanted to live on the plantation at home again with her family. She fights it the whole way but ends up coming back. Her mother is funny, eccentric and after many events, Caroline moves back to the plantation. It is a great story that is totally relate able. I want to visit Tall Pines badly after reading about this place! I actually laughed out loud and cried. It is a great story with great characters.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 22, 2013

    A delightful read!

    Do yourself a favor and read this book. PLANTATION was my introduction to Dorothea Benton Frank's prodigious talent. I paced my reading toward the end of the book because it was about to end. But help was to be found at Barnes & Noble as I found the companion books listed (and quickly added them to my Wish List).

    I was completely invested with each character's life as I read PLANTATION. Ms. Frank drew me in and her writing held me to the end.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 27, 2009

    I have read Dorothea Benton Frank's books since about 2001 or and enjoy the Low Country emphasis.

    Due to the holiday's I haven't had many chances to casually read so I am still working on this one. The main character is based in New York and I don't care about that setting, but the connection to the low Country and her family bring it back to the type story that I like. I hope to finish this in the next day or so. There is a lot of suspense involved in whether Caroline returns to New York and how she handles her family's issues.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 14, 2008

    I Haven't Laughed This Hard

    Fiddle dee dee! I haven't laughed this hard in a long time!! I really think you have to be a Southerner to truly appreciate all this book has to offer 'phrases, etc.'. I have been gone from the South for over 35 years, but I truly did laugh until I cried. I saw lots of my dysfunctional family in this novel. This is the first book I've read by this author, but I'll definitely be reading more.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2008


    I read at least 250 pages. It almost put me to sleep.

    2 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2013

    Another great book!

    Dorothea Benton Frank is one of my favorite authors. I want to read all of her books, and I'm nearly there! Will be sorry to not have any more to read. Hopefully she will continue to write these great low country books.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2013

    Great story!

    I loved this book-it was very realistic and so humorous! There were things in this book that everyone can relate to when it comes to thier family. I will definately read more of this writers books.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2013

    Great story, many funny points

    I loved this book. The characters really come to life!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 8, 2013

    After reading Folly Beach, I couldn't wait to get my hands on an

    After reading Folly Beach, I couldn't wait to get my hands on another one of Dorothea Benton Franks' books. I then read Sullivan's Island. Now I am hooked on her writings. Once I start one, I just don't want to put it down until I am finished. Reading her books fills many lonely hours for me. They are like going back home. I am not from the low country, but Greenville, SC. I am about to get Plantation and can't wait!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 1, 2012

    highly recommended

    these books would mkkae great christmas presents. Love the author

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 19, 2012

    I'm having a hard time getting through this. I have enjoyed many

    I'm having a hard time getting through this. I have enjoyed many of Ms. Frank's books but this one just doesn't have enough of a story and the characters are too shallow for me. I'm about 300 pages in and looking forward to being done with it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2012

    Great Story

    Beautifully written story of support and love not only of family members but of those around them.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2012


    A wonderful immersion into a facet of Lowcountry culture, lifestyle and personalities. Certain passages were so poignant they made my heart pang.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2012

    A must read!

    Her books always make me want to go to the "low country". Dorothea Benton Franks books are very captivating. I always enjoy reading them and have a hard time putting them down.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2012

    Hightly Recommended

    This is my all time favorita Dorothea Benton Frank book.
    So much so I have it in paperback and now on my Nook Color.
    It's all about a quirky southern family in SC, but a very
    real and believable family.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 4, 2011

    Don't Judge a Book by its Cover-Really!

    I was given this book by my grandma (oddly enough). After reading the description, I was skeptical. It didn't seem overly interesting, but I was bored and needed something to read. So, I dove right in. I was pleasantly surprised! This book was hilarious! The character development was very good and the plot was great. I have since read several of Ms. Frank's other novels and she is a fantastic writer. Her books are witty, funny, emotional, and relevant. I highly recommend this author to everyone.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 28, 2011

    Must Read

    If you enjoy books set in the south this is a must read. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and will be purchasing more by this author.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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