Porch Lights [NOOK Book]

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 ...

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Porch Lights

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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 waterssurrounding 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

From Barnes & Noble

For most summer arrivals in the Carolina lowcountry, the stay is a much-yearned vacation or a nostalgic visit home. For the nurse at the center of Dorothea Benton Frank's Porch Lights, the return begins as an overdue escape from the violence and the trauma of Iraq War emergency rooms; but as she becomes enmeshed in the life of this endearing beach community, she rediscovers a tranquility that she imagined she would never recover. Another heartwarming tale from Frank's signature lowcountry terrain. Now in trade paperback and NOOK Book.

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: 9780062194862
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 6/12/2012
  • Sold by: HARPERCOLLINS
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 9,892
  • File size: 2 MB

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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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 204 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(125)

4 Star

(34)

3 Star

(22)

2 Star

(17)

1 Star

(6)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 204 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 18, 2012

    The first few books that I read by Dorothea Benton Frank were de

    The first few books that I read by Dorothea Benton Frank were delightful. I loved The Land of Mango Sunsets, Full of Grace, Pawleys Island, Shem Creek and Isle of Palms. They were dramatic, funny and a little raunchy at times. There came a point in time when I purchased another of her books (don't recall the name of that one) and I knew at once that something was missing. The magic was gone. It almost seemed that someone else wrote the book. I'm sorry to say I feel the same disappointment with Porch Lights. It has its moments, but the Dorothea Benton Frank style that I fell in love with is missing. I'm really having to push myself to finish it.

    11 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2012

    Not her best

    I have loved all of DBF's books except for Full of Grace, Folly Beach, and this one. It was predictable and I did not like her use of strong religious tones in this book. I expect her books to be more exciting and keep me interested as to not want to put the book down. Somehow she has lost her touch with this book and her last. I get excited when I find out she has a new book coming out then read it and am extremely disappointed. Her early books were the best.

    9 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2012

    Not her Best

    This was one of my least favorite books by the writer. It did not hold my attention like her other books.

    8 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 26, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Every time I read one of DBF's books I want to move down south a

    Every time I read one of DBF's books I want to move down south and get adopted by a big 'ole family and live like the characters in her book do.
    This book tells the story of a much fractured family. Annie and Buster is a married couple, both retired, that have been living apart for 11 years since he got fed up with her controlling ways. From Annie's point of view, it was the day after their daughter’s wedding, he had his junk all over the porch, and they had a bunch of relatives coming over so of course she was concerned. Jackie, the aforementioned daughter, is coming back to the low country with her son Charlie, aged 10. Jackie's husband Jimmie, an NYFD member had died on duty several months before and Jackie needs a break from life in Brooklyn. She is also grappling with decisions after being an active duty nurse in Afghanistan and now figuring out where her life will go.
    The visit is fraught with tension between Jackie and Annie and Annie and Buster. Throw in good looking Dr. Steve from next door who Annie has been lusting after in her heart and it just keeps getting deeper. Annie is the true southern woman who just keeps on living life every day no matter how hard it has become and who believes that good food is a cure for a lot of problems. She is a font of information for Charlie, telling him all about the low country ways, the battles in the area during the Revolution, and about local celebrity Edgar Allen Poe.
    One of things I love about DBF's books is that there is such a sense of normalcy in the lives of the characters, even when they are doing the craziest things- like scoping out Dr. Steve's unmentionables. The continuity of years of tradition becomes a balm that soothes the troubled soul whether you believe in the traditions or not. While this story does have a few incidents of emotional lows and one scary moment, generally it is a tale of a family finding its way back to each other by living day after day and opening their hearts to the healing they can give each other.

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 17, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    What a great read! really enjoyed it. It was very easy for me to

    What a great read! really enjoyed it. It was very easy for me to connect to the characters

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2012

    I love her books!!!

    Once again, another home run! If you have not read Dorothea Benton Franks books - you poor deprived person.

    Go get any one of her numerous books and start reading. Her razor sharp wit will have you laughing out loud and wishing the book would not end.

    One thing I absolutely love about her writing is the fact that she takes the time to fully develop her many characters and intertwine them so skillfully. Very easy to read and understand her storylines.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 19, 2012

    I loved it

    For a Southerner born and bred, these stories are like coming home

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2012

    highly recommended

    Truly enjoyed this book, highly recommend it to Dorothea Benton Frank fans and new readers.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2012

    Great relateable reading

    I want to move to south carolina now. This book for me touched on alot of heavy life topics and was able to do it in a page turning fashion without being opressive. I related to every single character in one way or another. Are we the masters of our own destiny or is fate weaving and cutting the strings? Read and find out!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2012

    Azure

    She bit the lions neck and hung there, biting down as hard as she can.

    3 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 29, 2012

    Very Enjoyable

    I liked Ms. Frank's newest novel and cherished the characters. Annie, is such a card and I loved her sense of humor. Jackie and Charlie's station in life will make you cry and you will sympathize with what life has dealt them. You know, life's struggles. This is a precious story of going home to heal and one of new beginnings.

    This is a great beach read and one I would truly recommend to someone that just wants to dip their toes in the surf, sit back, read and enjoy the lights glowing on the porch.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 17, 2012

    Skull

    Good. Im off to bed. Long day.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2012

    awesome book, a must read!!!!!

    I couldn't put it down.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 5, 2012

    A Must Read

    Dorothea Benton Frank does it again. I picked this up for a good summer read and couldn't put it down. As the reader, I became involved with the two main characters, feeling their love and anguish towards each other, only as a mother and daughter naturally would. If you enjoy light romance, family involvement and the role mother nature plays in bringing a family together, this is the book for you.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2012

    a great summer read

    a good story with likeable charaters.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2012

    Great! Great!

    I have read every single book Dottie has written. They are always great. I look forward to June every year for the next edition.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2012

    Ok read..fell short of my expectations for one of my favorite authors.

    Though I can say I mostly enjoyed the book and probably deserves three stars instead of two, I just couldn't go there. I compare all of Frank's books to my favorite, "Land of Mango Sunsets." This book fell short as I never felt any deep love for the characters. Even the little boy was annoyingly perfect. I never felt the urgency for romance to bloom, and though I enjoy history in my stories, the lessons offered up about Sullivan's Island felt like they were just thrown into the story as a filler.

    I did fall in love with the Salty Dog though and I now feel the need to spend weeks on end sitting on the porch of a lowcountry beach house.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 21, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    A winner

    DBF has done it again! Invited us back to the low country then did not disappoint. I fell in love with Sullivan’s island again. I loved this story. The last few books, while good just didn’t grab my heart like the earlier ones had done, but this one grabbed me and pulled me right in and you just didn’t want it to end. Thanks for this perfect beach read!!!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 18, 2012

    Good easy read!

    First time to read this author. Was great for sitting by pool and relaxing with.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 16, 2012

    Good book

    I enjoyed this book much more than her previous book.....Folley Beach......that was a huge disappointment. Dorthea remains one of my favorite authors......I do love the South!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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