Porch Lights

Porch Lights

4.2 176
by Dorothea Benton Frank
     
 

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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

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Overview

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.

Captivated by the island's alluring natural charms and inspired by colorful Lowcountry lore—lively stories of Blackbeard and his pirates who once sailed the waters surrounding the Carolinas and of former resident Edgar Allan Poe—mother, daughter, and grandson will share a memorable, illuminating summer. Told in Annie's and Jackie's alternating voices, and filled with Dorothea Benton Frank's charming wit, indelible poignancy, and hallmark themes—the bonds of family, the heart's resilience, and the strength of love—Porch Lights is a triumph from "the queen of Southern fiction" (Charlotte Observer).

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Frank's latest is her usual warmhearted look at grief, healing and South Carolina coastal life. Jackie McMullen, an Army nurse, is relieved from her deployment in Afghanistan when she becomes the sole support of her 10-year-old son, Charlie. Her husband, Jimmy, a New York City firefighter, was killed in the line of duty. Her mother, Annie Britt, insists Jackie bring Charlie, who is deeply depressed after the loss of his father, to summer at the "Salty Dog," the Britts' Sullivan's Island home. Although Charlie takes immediately to Lowcountry beachcombing, Jackie is unsettled by her mother's obvious crush on Steve, the widowed dermatologist next door, who, Jackie notes ruefully, would rather flirt with daughter than mother. Annie is still married to Jackie's father, Buster, although they have lived apart for 11 years (ever since Buster embarked on an extended fishing trip). But the presence of his only grandson lures Buster back to the Salty Dog, as does, although he won't admit it, rekindled passion for Annie since her recent overhaul by a Charleston makeover maven. When Charlie himself (channeling Annie's fondest wish) starts angling to stay on Sullivan's Island instead of returning to Brooklyn, Jackie is torn. Jimmy's grave is in New York, and her mother can still push every one of her buttons, for example when she insists on telling Charlie morbid Edgar Allen Poe tales right before bedtime. The sudden death of a neighbor, the husband of Annie's best friend Deb, triggers a vicarious crisis that soon has the Britt family rethinking its priorities. Jackie and Doctor Steve, of course, both glimpse the possibility of moving on from loss together. Although leavened with wry humor, particularly in the sections narrated by Annie, the story stumbles under the weight of too many clichés. Moreover, Frank's target demographic may be put off by the portrayal of Annie and other aging Boomers as positively geriatric. Happy families are all alike, which is why, even on the beach, they can be a bore.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061961298
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
06/12/2012
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
304,867
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

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Meet the Author

Bestselling author DOROTHEA BENTON FRANK was born and raised on Sullivans Island, South Carolina. She and her husband divide their time between South Carolina and New Jersey. Please visit her website at www.dotfrank.com and join her on Facebook.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
New Jersey and Sullivan's Island, South Carolina
Place of Birth:
Sullivan's Island, South Carolina
Website:
http://www.dotfrank.com

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