The Last Original Wife

( 179 )

Overview

Leslie Anne Greene Carter is The Last Original Wife among her husband Wesley's successful Atlanta social set. His cronies have all traded in the mothers of their children—who they promised to love and cherish 'til death did them part—for tanned and toned young Barbie brides.

If losing the social life and close friends she adored wasn't painful enough, a series of setbacks has shaken Les up and she's had enough of playing the good wife. Now, she's going to take some time for ...

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Overview

Leslie Anne Greene Carter is The Last Original Wife among her husband Wesley's successful Atlanta social set. His cronies have all traded in the mothers of their children—who they promised to love and cherish 'til death did them part—for tanned and toned young Barbie brides.

If losing the social life and close friends she adored wasn't painful enough, a series of setbacks has shaken Les up and she's had enough of playing the good wife. Now, she's going to take some time for herself—in the familiar comforts and stunning beauty of Charleston, her beloved hometown. In her brother's historic home, she will reclaim the carefree girl who spent lazy summers sharing steamy kisses with her first love on Sullivans Island. Along Charleston's cobblestone streets, under the Lowcountry's dazzling blue sky, Les will indulge herself with icy cocktails, warm laughter and bittersweet memories. Daring to listen to her inner voice, she will realize what she wants . . . and find the life of which she's always dreamed.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

The last original wife of the title is Leslie Anne Greene, the lone remaining first spouse in her husband's circle of friends. It only takes a relatively minor accident to snap her to the realization that what had seemed like a singular mark of distinction had become over the span of years a hollow symbol. To retrieve and replenish her life, she retreats to the pristine sands of South Caroline's shores. There she finds more than she ever imagined. A classic summer vacation read from the inimitable Dorothea Benton Frank.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062132468
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 6/11/2013
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 90,398
  • Product dimensions: 6.42 (w) x 9.16 (h) x 1.23 (d)

Meet the Author

Dorothea Benton Frank

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.

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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Read an Excerpt

The Last Original Wife


By Dorothea Frank

HarperCollins Publishers

Copyright © 2013 Dorothea Frank
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-06-213246-8



CHAPTER 1
Leslie and Wesley's Present Situation
ATLANTA, SEPTEMBER 2012
Welcome to Saint Magnolia's Wounded Theater. At least that's what
I called it. Within these slick walls reside Atlanta's pish- posh team
of premier psychiatrists, psychoanalysts, and relationship counsel-
ors who specialize in the broken hearts/crushed egos of the privi-
leged and renowned. Their lavish confessionals, perched high above
the city, are, well, breathtaking. I was here because my husband,
Wesley, insisted this was the only place he'd even consider receiving,
as he was loath to say, therapy. And as it was on my first visit, the vast
waiting area was packed.
Just for the record? Wesley needed therapy. I. Absolutely. Did. Not.
The circular reception area held a large round workstation of
bird's- eye maple. The countertops of deep brown granite were chis-
eled and polished. Behind them stood two young women who ap-
peared to have fallen from the pages of Vogue magazine. Above them
hung a chandelier worthy of an opera house that I imagined sailed

4 / dorothea benton frank
right to America directly from the lips of the finest glassblowers of
Murano. Every square foot of their offices was as beautiful as a ses-
sion was insanely expensive, leaving me to wonder where exactly
was this much heralded recession?
“I'm here to see Dr. Katz,” I said.
“And you're Mrs. . . . ?”
“Carter.”
“Thank you.” She pecked around on what looked like a keyboard
from the Starship Enterprise and smiled when she found my name
among those on his appointment calendar. I was officially entered
into the captain's log.
“Please make yourself comfortable in the waiting area. There's
bottled water . . .”
“Thanks.”
My heels clicked across the beige marble flooring that was shot
with veins of black and gold. When the veins of gold caught a stream
of afternoon light, they sparkled like the proverbial streets of para-
dise. Perhaps some people thought all this grandeur was a comfort;
you know, they must be good at what they do if they can afford all
this? Not me. The whole drama was a grand demonstration of con-
spicuous consumption and their complete disregard for carbon foot-
print. I shuddered.
I took a small bottle of cold water from the refreshment station
and sank into one of only two unoccupied overstuffed velvet club
chairs, unscrewed the cap, and took a long drink. Okay, I'd admit
this much, as off- putting as the swank trappings were to me? Well,
the chairs were like a beautiful womb, upholstered in swirls of deep
purple and olive on a field of smooth ecru velvet. I could've slept
in them. No, I could've lived in them. If I thought no one would
have noticed, I might have pushed one through the door, down the
hall, into the elevator, and somehow with God's grace, I would've

the last original wife / 5
smooshed it into the back of my car. Just the thought of it gave me
a little thrill, and this was a time in my life when thrills were not
happening for me in Atlanta.
In between the chairs were small tables that held magazines on
mental health, extreme adventure travel, vegan living, and every
kind of yoga. You could tell a lot about the soul of an organization by
the reading material in its waiting area. For my money, these par-
ticular choices leaned a little to the side of wacko, but, I reminded
myself, my son was a granola- boy who had been living in an ashram
in Nepal for the last three years while he contemplated the uni-
verse instead of completing his MBA. It wasn't like Bertie aspired
to climb Everest and then come home and become an adult, not
that climbing Everest is a childish thing to do. I'm suggesting that's
a lofty goal. No, this was something different. He was completely
under the spell of all things Hindu, Himalayan, and Tibetan. His
current passion was to photograph the people as they went about
their lives in the spectacular landscape near the Roof of the World.
He was transfixed by the exotic temples and stupas, the smells of
burning yak butter candles, and Buddhist monks seated in long lines
on low cushions, chanting in guttural tones. He was completely
taken by the regular people, their devotion to their faith, and their
pilgrimages to Lake Manasarovar. His plan was to sell his pictures
to a magazine like National Geographic or maybe put together a doc-
umentary for PBS with Bill Moyers. I have to confess that while his
photographs were out of this world stunningly beautiful, neither
of these goals had yet to come anywhere close to fruition. So my
beautiful son, Bertie, was still woven into the umbilical cord of his
father's wallet.
I have never been able to mail Bertie an additional check for
even fifty dollars because my husband had some very deep- rooted
and completely exhausting control issues. Therefore, I had lived on

6 / dorothea benton frank
a very, very strict budget and never had an extra fifty dollars. All
spending had to be justified in the accounting department of Wesley
Carter's stingy brain.
This unpleasant detail was one more item on my list entitled
Why Am I Living Like This? Here's how it went: Bertie called Wes and
they made small talk. Eventually Bertie would politely and humbly
ask him for some money to hold him over until this deal or that deal
came through. Wes pitched a fit about it and then took it out on me
for a month or so until Bertie called again. Life as Wes's emotional
dumping ground had long ago become tiresome and ridiculous. And
odd as this may seem, part of me envied and also admired Bertie's
courage to be a nonconforming, unmaterialistic seeker. The only
(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Last Original Wife by Dorothea Frank. Copyright © 2013 Dorothea Frank. Excerpted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
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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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 179 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(78)

4 Star

(50)

3 Star

(26)

2 Star

(18)

1 Star

(7)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 179 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 11, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    When a woman falls and spends 45 minutes in an empty catch basin

    When a woman falls and spends 45 minutes in an empty catch basin on a trip to Scotland, you know that things are not going to well in her life. Leslie Carter has seen her friends get cast off by their husbands for wife 2.0 until she feels like she is the LAST original wife. She has had to put up with dinners and events with these younger women and then finds herself on vacation with the replacement wife for her best friend. Her husband, Wesley has dreamt all of his life about golfing at St. Andrews and off the foursome goes to Scotland. When Les has her accident, the rest of the group keeps walking back to the hotel and doesn’t even realize she is missing. After she is located, Wes leaves her at the hospital so he doesn’t miss his tee time.
    Back home, Les realizes that her life has not turned out to be what she expected it to be. Yes, she is still married but it’s a marriage by rote not of passion or caring. Her two adult children are irresponsible and users. Wes is a controlling guy and has no appreciation for what Les has done for him over the years. She discovers that financially they are in a much better situation than she was aware of and this is the impetus for her to take a trip to Charleston to visit her brother. Les has time to think and really assess what her life means and what she really wants to do with her future.
    So many books lately feature the discarded wife being screwed by her cheating ex and having to rebuild her life on nothing but pluck. Then she gets financial revenge and a new man and everything is great. I love a good revenge plot as well as the next person, (Note: Pawley’s Island by this author is one of the absolute best of that genre) but this book is different. Les decides to take a break from her marriage after a period of reflection and increased self-awareness. She does meet up with an old flame but that is not the answer to her problems. Les needs to see what it is about herself that put her in the position she is presently in. How did she become ok with settling for less than she deserved? Why does she let other people make her feel that her wants and needs are less important than her husband’s and children’s? Is fear of what your life will be without your marriage a good enough reason to stay?
    Wes is not really a bad guy, just self-absorbed and oblivious. When the couple goes to counseling, the real difference between them is highlighted. Les wants to find out if this marriage can be saved and Wes just wants his old life back with no changes on his end.
    There is an interesting side story about a woman writer from earlier times in Charleston in whose story Les becomes interested. The descriptions of the “Barbie” wives are funny and pathetic at the same time. One of Ms. Frank’s skills is how she defines her characters and integrates the Southern mystique into her books. I thought that this book was a little less South-centric than some of her other books. That said, I enjoyed reading this book but I expected no less from one of my favorite authors.


    25 out of 34 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2013

    I Also Recommend:

    I loved this book. The premise is so unique: a wife of a well -

    I loved this book. The premise is so unique: a wife of a well -to-do discovers she is that last original (first) wife of all the players in her husband's clique - the other husbands having all traded in for younger models. The character development is top notch. The story travels along at a brisk pace. All in all a great book.

    17 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2013

    I Also Recommend:

    I found this book very interesting. The author alternates betwee

    I found this book very interesting. The author alternates between narrators, which takes a little getting used to, but is overall very affective. Five stars.

    10 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2013

    I Also Recommend:

    Dorthea Benton Frank is a wonderful author. I picked up The Last

    Dorthea Benton Frank is a wonderful author. I picked up The Last Original Wife because I liked the title. The book more than met my expectations. The characters are richly drawn. The plot is easy to follow. I highly recommend this book.

    8 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 28, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    "Wives are so easily gotten over and so easily replaced. We

    "Wives are so easily gotten over and so easily replaced. We are an expendable breed."

    "Do you really believe that?" To his credit, his expression was briefly ever so slightly incredulous.

    "Yes, I do. The evidence is all over the place. Men wear us out, either bury us or divorce us, and then they just go get another woman to be their mother."

    "Go on..."

    "So I looked around at these second wives with their fake boobs and their Jennifer Aniston flat-ironed hair and their Michelle Obama toned upper arms and I felt more like a chaperone than a peer. They were all wearing skintight bandage dresses with spiky platform high heels and they had their spray tans and big chunky jewelry. I was wearing, well, something age appropriate, pearls, pumps,, and a nice dress. I realized over the course of the night that they had plenty of chitchat for each other, but when they talked to me, they deferred as though they were being respectful of their grandmother. That was when I came to the what I thought was a rather startling realization."

    "And that was that?"

    "That I didn't want to be there. I really didn't want to be there! Worse? I didn't belong there! All of a sudden I didn't care. Wes's friends were married to girls who are young enough to be their daughters. I didn't want to spend every holiday and weekend for the rest of my life with a bunch of Barbies. These men were Wes's oldest friends, and their former wives were mine. These insipid young women would never be my friends. Moreover, I didn't want them to be my friends."

    That is about how Leslie Anne Greene Carter sums of how she feels being what she has labeled herself as the 'last original wife' among the people she finds herself sharing her free time with. Now that all of her husbands friends have married new younger wives, she takes a look back at her own life and realizes that she has spent 30 years living with Wesley Carter and they are no longer in love with one another. She suddenly finds herself the last original wife among their set of friends and finds she has literally nothing in common with their new wives or even anything in common with her husband any longer.

    What does Wes think of their marriage at this crucial point?

    "I don't beat her. I never ran around...well, not too much. She lives in a nice house. She's never had to work for a living. She drives a nice car. I take her to Vegas once a year. Is she crazy?"

    "I don't know. Is she?"

    "Look, I married her, didn't I" I stayed with her, didn't I? What they hell does she want from me? Why did she walk out on me? Was it her hormones?"

    Now the story takes an interesting twist between the chapters in this novel toggling at first to the counseling session that Les and Wes have at the beginning and then a look back at what brought them to that place during the meat of this amazing novel. This is truly one to savor and spend your time enjoying in a wonderful place this summer. The story is unforgettable and I truly hope this one finds its way to the big screen. Women would LOVE it!

    I received The Last Original Wife by Dorothea Benton Frank compliment of William Morrow, a division of Harper Collins Publishers for my honest review. I received no monetary compensation for a favorable review on this novel. Hands down I LOVED this one and feel it is truly worthy of a full 5 out of 5 stars. This is such a fun novel to savor the experiences of summer and of finding out where happiness lies for a women who has spent the last 30 years of her life, forgoing everything she has ever wanted and needed to care for an overly needy and ungrateful husband and their two grown children. I think every woman will find something wonderful in this story and I can't wait for more from Dorothea Benton Frank in the very near future. I think by far my favorite characters in this one besides Leslie is her brother Harlan. Oh how I wish I had a Harlan of my very own! You'll have to read this one to find out why!

    6 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2013

    Easy beach read

    I had trouble adjusting to the author's style at first. It didn't take me long after to get immersed in the plot. Fun, light read.Found myself grinning or laughing out loud. Only gave it 3 stars because of the unrealistic, fairytale ending. Overall, good book.

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 6, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Great!

    I loved this story. She had me laughing and hooked from the first page. She takes you through a marriage in trouble and coming into herself in a hilarious way. This is a must read!

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2013

    Anonymous

    Love, love, love her books! They make me smile and embrace those that I love.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 5, 2013

    Love this story.

    I have read all Dorothea's Books. I have enjoyed them all and would recommend them to all who enjoy a good story and of course a laugh.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2013

    Feel good book

    Loved this book! It made me laugh out loud.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2013

    I have read all of Dorothea's novels and always have been so exc

    I have read all of Dorothea's novels and always have been so excited when a new one is published. This disjointed effort was such a disappointment. I guess she was tired of her delightful formula that had worked such magic in the past. I will preview more carefully her next novel before I buy it.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2013

    Easy, fun beach read! Good plot, great characters, the usual sas

    Easy, fun beach read! Good plot, great characters, the usual sassy and on point Dorthea Benton Frank novel.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted November 15, 2013

    Anonomous

    Should purchase book from I-Tunes for $12.99 instead of from Barnes & Noble for $15.99.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2013

    Redundant

    I used to thoroughly enjoy reading this author's works. I am now finding them to be redundant in plot and characters. I found this last book very disappointing.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2013

    Fun!

    Couldn't put it down. May be her best yet. Definitely two thumbs up. Loved they way the story unfolds.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 5, 2013

    Great beach read

    Loved this book but then again I love all Dorothea Benton Frank's books! Her books make me laugh out loud and this one was no exception. Read this book and then go back and read her other books. You won't be disappointed.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2013

    Awesome

    Love the southern charm

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2013

    Excellent Story

    Very interesting story love a mature story that comes out good for the first wife

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 28, 2013

    Loved this book! Very enjoyable read and of course my favorite c

    Loved this book! Very enjoyable read and of course my favorite character in the story was the city of Charleston... The characters are relateable esp how the author rights them. You as a reader really enjoy being on the journey with them. Have already recommended this book to many friends and even some strangers

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 25, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    One look at the cover of Dorothea Benton Frank's The Last Origin

    One look at the cover of Dorothea Benton Frank's The Last Original Wife, with a woman lounging on the sand near the ocean, wearing a stylish red sun hat, and you know right away this is a book that will be accompanying you to the beach.
    Les is the title character, a middle-aged wife and mother of two adult children, doting grandmother to sweet little Holly. Married to Wes, a driven businessman, they dine at the exclusive country club each Saturday with their group of friends.
    But that group is changing. Les' best friend died tragically, and the widower (too) quickly remarried a young, sexy woman who is not popular with the children. When Les' other best friend gives her husband an ultimatum- stop texting his hot young personal trainer at the dinner table or she is leaving, it leaves Les as The Last Original Wife.
    Forced to spend time with her husband's friends and their new vapid, young wives, Les starts to wonder if this is what she has to look forward to in the coming years. After a trip to Scotland with her husband and his friend and new wife, Les falls into an open manhole and her husband gets all the way back to the hotel (a 40 minute walk) before he realizes that Les is no longer there.
    Call that the straw that broke the camel's back. Les decides she is not happy with her life. Her daughter uses her as a babysitter whenever she feels like it, her son lives overseas and only calls for money, and her husband refuses to allow Les' gay brother Harlan to come visit so Les hasn't seen her him in forever.
    She goes to Charleston to stay with her brother. There she runs into an old high school boyfriend and begins to see that she can have a different life, one where she can be in charge of her own happiness.
    I loved everything about this novel- characters, the story- and the setting made me want to book my airline ticket for Charleston right now. Frank takes us to this beautiful city, and she gave me some fabulous suggestions for restaurants, for which I promptly made a Pinterest board.
    Harlan is a fantastic character, with an even better dog, the supremely spoiled Miss Jo, who has a closet full of beautiful clothes. I really enjoyed his and Les' sibling relationship. Harlan lives in a historical home, once owned by Josephine Pinckney, a prominent feminist and author. I loved the historical homes in Charleston, and you can bet I'm looking for Pinckney's books now.
    The novel is told from alternating view points- Les' and Wes'- so we know what each of them is thinking. Wes is completely blindsided and extremely myopic when it comes to his wife, but give him credit for trying to understand. He even agrees to therapy to save his marriage.
    The Last Original Wife is the beach read for boomers this summer. I think most women who read it will be able to identify with some part of Les's story, and cheer her on as she makes the decisions that will lead to her living a happy life. I like that it is not just a light read with a lot of humor (Les' one-liners crack me up); it has a lot of depth to it and it is surprisingly moving for a summer book.  I'm buying extra copies to bring to my sisters-in-law for our beach vacation next week.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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