Sweetwater Creek

Sweetwater Creek

3.7 28
by Anne Rivers Siddons

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From bestselling author Anne Rivers Siddons comes a bittersweet and finely wrought story of friendship, family, and Charleston society.

At twelve, Emily Parmenter knows alone all too well. Left mostly to herself after her beautiful young mother disappeared and her beloved older brother died, Emily is keenly aware of yearning and loss. Rather than be

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From bestselling author Anne Rivers Siddons comes a bittersweet and finely wrought story of friendship, family, and Charleston society.

At twelve, Emily Parmenter knows alone all too well. Left mostly to herself after her beautiful young mother disappeared and her beloved older brother died, Emily is keenly aware of yearning and loss. Rather than be consumed by sadness, she has built a life around the faded plantation where her remote father and hunting-obsessed brothers raise the legendary Lowcountry Boykin hunting spaniels. It is a meager, narrow, masculine world, but to Emily it has magic: the storied deep-sea dolphins who come regularly to play in Sweetwater Creek; her extraordinary bond with the beautiful dogs she trains; her almost mystic communion with her own spaniel, Elvis; the dreaming old Lowcountry itself. Emily hides from the dreaded world here. It is enough.

And then comes Lulu Foxworth, troubled daughter of a truly grand plantation, who has run away from her hectic Charleston debutante season to spend a healing summer with the quiet marshes and river, and the life-giving dogs. Where Emily's father sees their guest as an entrée to a society he thought forever out of reach, Emily is at once threatened and mystified. Lulu has a powerful enchantment of her own, and this, along with the dark, crippling secret she brings with her, will inevitably blow Emily's magical water world apart and let the real one in—but at a terrible price.

Poignant and emotionally compelling, Anne Rivers Siddons's Sweetwater Creek draws you into the luminous landscape of the Lowcountry. With characters that linger long after you've turned thelast page, this engaging tale is destined to become an instant classic.

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Editorial Reviews

Protected by the sultry, natural rhythms of Sweetwater Creek, 12-year-old Emily Parmenter lives in quiet denial in the aftermath of her mother's disappearance and the death of her beloved older brother. Her tranquil incubation is snapped, however, by the arrival of Lulu Foxworth, a plantation heiress who has troubles and secrets of her own. An evocative, multi-layer Lowcountry tale.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
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Sweetwater Creek LP

By Anne Rivers Siddons

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2005 Anne Rivers Siddons
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060751517

Chapter One

On a Thanksgiving eve, just before sunset, Emily and Elvis sat on the bank of a hummock where it slid down into Sweetwater Creek. Autumn in the Lowcountry of South Carolina is usually as slow and sweet as thick tawny port, and just as sleepily intoxicating. But this one had been born cold, with frosts searing late annuals in early October and chill nights so clear and still that the stars over the marshes and creeks bloomed like white chrysanthemums. Sweaters came out a full two months early, and furnaces rumbled dustily on in late September. Already Emily was shivering hard in her thin denim jacket, and had pulled Elvis closer for his body heat. In the morning, the spartina grass would be tinkling with a skin of ice and rime and the tidal creek would run as dark and clear as iced tea, the opaque, teeming strata of creek life having died out early or gone south with migratory birds. Emily missed the ribbons of birdsong you could usually hear well after Thanksgiving, but the whistle of quail and the blatting chorus of ducks and other waterfowl rang clearer, and the chuff and cough of deer come close. Emily loved the sounds of the winter animals; they said that life on the marsh would go on.

They sat on the bank overlooking the little sand beach where the river dolphins came to hurl themselves out of the water after the fish they had herded there. The dolphins were long gone to warmer seas, but at low tide the slide marks they wore into the sand were still distinct. They would not fade away until many more tides had washed them.

"There won't be any of them this late," Emily told Elvis. Elvis grinned up at her; he knew this. The dolphins were for heat and low tide. Girl and spaniel came almost every day in the summer and fall to watch them. Elvis's internal clock was better by far than the motley collection of timepieces back in the farmhouse.

They sat a while longer, as the gold and vermillion sunset dulled to gray-lavender. They would go back to the house soon, or be forced to stumble their way home in the swift, dense dark. Emily hadn't brought her flashlight. She had not thought they would be gone this long. But the prospect of the dim kitchen light and the thick smell of supper, and the even thicker silence, kept her on the marsh. This night would not be a happy one, even by Parmenter standards. Already words had been flung that could not be taken back, and furious tears shed, and the torturous wheel of Thanksgiving day loomed as large as a millstone. No, there would be silence now, each of them drowned in their own pools of it. The speaking was done. It was not the Parmenter way to go back and try to mitigate hurt and anger. By suppertime it would simply not exist anymore, except in Emily's roiling mind. Her father and brothers would be deep in their eating and drinking, and her Aunt Jenny would have gone quietly home to her own silent hearth. Tomorrow she and Emily and old Cleta would prepare the ritual dinner for the returning hunters. Weather or catastrophe, sickness or grinding grief, the Thanksgiving hunt was sacrosanct. Walter Parmenter had instituted it long before Emily's birth.

"All the big plantations have them. It's an old sporting tradition," he said often, to anyone who might be listening. "We, of all the plantation families, should have one. We have the best hunting dogs in the Lowcountry, and some of the best bird land. The other planters talk about our dogs and our land. People tell me they hear about them all the time."

That there were now very few planters left on the huge river and tidal creek plantations around Charleston was, to Walter Parmenter, beside the point. He lived far back in his head, in the glory days of the family-oriented plantations. But most of the properties now were owned by northern sportsmen or hunting clubs, with managers to oversee day-to-day life. In this new millennium, they were largely weekend plantations. It was a point of immense pride to Walter that he had lived and worked Sweetwater Plantation almost his entire life. He scorned the holiday planters.

"Not one of them knows the woods and fields and marshes and the game and birds like I do. I could show them things about these parts that would pin their ears back. I could outhunt the lot of them, too. Me and the boys and the dogs, we'll show them a thing or two about that one of these days."

Emily thought that unlikely; Walter had never been invited on the great Thanksgiving and Christmas hunts that were traditional with some of their landed neighbors. They visited only to look at and buy Sweetwater's famous Boykin spaniels. They would smile and speak admiringly of the Boykins, and usually go home with a pup or leave an order for the next litter, and then retreat to their fine old houses at the end of their long live oak allées. Her father was right about one thing, though. Sweetwater's Boykin spaniels were among the best in the Lowcountry, bred from strict breed standards and long lines of legendary hunters, and trained meticulously. If you took home a Sweetwater Boykin, whether started or broke, you had yourself a hunting dog that would be greatly admired in the field and house by every visitor who came. Elvis was one of them. Emily had trained him herself ...


Excerpted from Sweetwater Creek LP by Anne Rivers Siddons Copyright © 2005 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.
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Meet the Author

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.

Brief Biography

Charleston, South Carolina and a summer home in Maine overlooking Penobscot Bay
Date of Birth:
January 9, 1936
Place of Birth:
Atlanta, Georgia
B.A., Auburn University, 1958; Atlanta School of Art, 1958

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Sweetwater Creek 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When Ms. Siddons writes about her beloved low country, I expect to be transported, and I was. By the time I emerged, I was swaddled in Spanish moss, spitting pluff mud and speaking with a southern accent. I think Anne reached a new high in her poetic descriptions - her ability to makes us feel, smell, taste and see Emily's world. I'm usually a James Patterson, full of action, move it along, kind of reader - but when I pick up Sweetwater Ranch - or any of the 'low country' books, I have to agree with the Chicago Tribune. I don't just read her books. I dwell in them. In this day and age, to be able to dwell somewhere else for a while, is a gift. A true gift!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Could not wait to read this every night and hated finishing it. As a Boykin owner, I loved reading the connections between girl, dog, and family. Hope there is a follow-up to continue the story!
mrknx More than 1 year ago
Vintage Siddens with the lush landscapes so real you can feel the winds and feel prickles on your spine as she takes us thru a rollercoaster of obssession and love. Juxtaposes mystical with harsh reality...big bad corporation polluting the pristine up creek. Loved it! Each of her books takes you somewhere enchanting..usually in the South. Highly recommend taking this journey!!
Skybird1941 More than 1 year ago
I've always loved Anne Rivers Siddon's books and thought that I had read them all. What a wonderful gift to find one that I had not yet read! I just finished this book and the story is one that is both haunting and beautiful. ARS develops her characters so well that you feel as if you know them. She is descriptive without being overly-wordy so that you get a real sense and feel of the place where the story takes place. If you like Anne Rivers Siddons, please read this book. You won't be sorry.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Siddons describes the SC setting so descripitively you feel like you have been there in Sweetwater. The characters are so loveable and very memorable that you miss them when you put the book down. For any one who loves fiction sorrounded by the Carolinas, you will love this book. Along the same lines as The Secret Life of Bees.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
The author can tell a compelling story, despite overwrought language that has me rolling my eyes and saying, 'Oh, please,' about every three pages. But somehow, I keep going to find out what happens to these people. I did notice a few commonsensical lapses in this one--for one, we're supposed to believe that the father of a 13-year-old knows nothing of the high schools in his hometown, even their locations, even though he also has 16-year-old twins? Mrs. Siddons is a gifted storyteller, but she really needs a better editor--one, to catch commonsensical slips like the above example, and two, to pull her back from the breathless descriptions of Southern life that make even this lifelong Southerner--familiar, and even sympathetic to, our tendency to cheerlead for our eccentricities--wince.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have never read a book by this author but picked it up on a whim. It was well written and had me completely absorbed immediately. I will definitely look for others by this author. Enjoy!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was my first Anne Rivers Siddons book and while the descriptions of the south get to be a little much I still found this story to be a great read. If you¿re looking for a book that stays with you long after you read it then this is a book for you. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Emily¿s story and while I do have to agree with other people¿s reviews about the other characters not being as developed as Emily. However, I think that it is for a reason. Since the main character of the book is Emily maybe we are supposed to see the characters through her eyes and as you read you will find out that she really doesn¿t truly know her family. They live in the same house but interactions are kept to a minimum that is until Lulu comes along¿
Guest More than 1 year ago
Because I generally enjoy Ms. Siddons writing, I purchased this book as soon as it was hot off the press. I had not had time to read it when I discovered it on CD at our local library. I enjoyed listening to it, but think that it would have been a dry read. Siddons is usually such an excellent writer, however, that I was disappointed with the lack of character development and depth in this book. The best thing about this book, is that I now have a beautiful Boykin spaniel that someone had dropped in a well. The dog swam to save her own life until she could be rescued. Siddons did show an uncanny understanding of the temperment of this breed - they are fabulous dogs. However, the fact that Elvis knew when to get help, etc. was a little far-fetched. Siddons does keep you wondering what Lulu's secret is and wondering when the shoe is going to drop. Perhaps this book is best enjoyed in the car on a long drive.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I got as far as 85 pages in this most recent novel from one of my favorite writers and just didn't feel compelled to go on. The characters were poorly developed, the story sluggish and somewhat boring and the dialogue trite and predictable. Ms. Siddons' previous novels have had rich characters, interesting stories and great endings -- this had none of that and I wouldn't recommend it to her fans.
Guest More than 1 year ago
While I never miss reading an Anne Rivers Siddon book, this one as well as her previous book have left me a little cold. Her descriptions of the south always make you feel as if you are right there, breathing and seeing the low country. But only Emily is a developed character in this book. I never got a true feel for any of the other people that were in and out of her life (with the exception of Elvis, the dog, who I wanted to take home). The essence of Lulu is never truly explained. Like her last novel, I felt as though Ms. Siddons didn't know how to end the book. My recommendation is to read Peachtree Road, Siddons at her best.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Anne Rivers Siddons is a master at describing the lush landscape of the south and in Sweetwater Creek we are swept away in the strong undercurrents of the story. This powerful, beautifully written coming-of-age novel is sure to touch your heart--and you'll want a Boykin spaniel after meeting dear Elvis!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was the first book I have read by Siddons..I have to say it will NOT be my last. She tells a great story. I loved all the characters in the book and she made you feel like you were part of them. It was a wonderful read and cant wait to buy more book by Anne River Siddons.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am always lured into reading modern southern novels and especially enjoy reading their unique storylines. It must be the words about old southern cooking, silver, architecture, and manners that I am so completely drawn to read. I especially appreciated that the storyline maintained itself through the end of this book. I have to say that I had earlier read Siddons' The House Next Door, and it was a tad spooky to me. I found myself with the same spooky raised hair on the back of my neck feeling in this current novel. It's a non-stop read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book in 2 days and all the time I was hoping to get answers for unanswered questions.In the end the book leaves me hanging.I was dissapointed.
Guest More than 1 year ago
While I enjoyed this book and finished it in just one day, it is definitely not one of Anne Rivers Siddons' best books. Emily is the only character who is fully fleshed out in this book as compared to Rivers Siddons' usually finely done cast of characters. I also found the descriptive parts of the story (about the low country of South Carolina) to be repetitive although lovely. I wish I'd waited and bought this book in paperback instead of paying full price for the hardback.