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Up Island

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If there was ever one woman who knew what was important, that woman was Molly Bell Redwine. From childhood, Molly was taught by her charismatic, demanding mother that "family is everything." But in what seems like an instant, Molly discovers that family can change without warning. Her husband of more than twenty years leaves her for a younger woman, her domineering mother dies, and her Atlanta clan scatters to the four winds. In a heartbeat Molly is set adrift.

Devasting by her ...

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New York, NY 1997 Hard cover New in new dust jacket. Brand New Book. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. 342 p. Audience: General/trade.

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New York, NY 1997 Hard cover New in very good dust jacket. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. 310 p. Audience: General/trade.

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Overview

If there was ever one woman who knew what was important, that woman was Molly Bell Redwine. From childhood, Molly was taught by her charismatic, demanding mother that "family is everything." But in what seems like an instant, Molly discovers that family can change without warning. Her husband of more than twenty years leaves her for a younger woman, her domineering mother dies, and her Atlanta clan scatters to the four winds. In a heartbeat Molly is set adrift.

Devasting by her crumbling world, Molly takes refuge with a friend on Martha's Vineyard where she tries to come to terms with who she really is. After the summer season, Molly decides to stay on in this very different world, renting a small cottage on a remote up-island pond.

As Molly's stay up island widens the distance between her and her old life in Atlanta, she lets go of her outworn notions of family and begins to become part of a strange—and very real—new family.As the long Vineyard winter closes in, she braces herself for the search for renewal, identity, and strength, until the healing spring finally comes.

A capable, well-born Atlanta woman struggles to find a place for herself in the isolation and stark beauty of a New England island after a devastating divorce and her mother's sudden death.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
A woman whose family has fallen apart finds refuge on Martha's Vineyard, caring for others as a means of finding herself.
School Library Journal
YA--For Molly Redwine, maintaining her family is the essence of her existence. When her husband announces he is leaving her for another woman, her world collapses. The "other woman" quickly takes over Molly's social position, her house, and even the affection of her son. With the sudden death of her domineering mother, Molly is truly set adrift. Escaping with friends to Martha's Vineyard, she starts the search for her own identity. When her friends depart, she stays on in a small cottage. As a renter, she must also assume the duties of caretaker of two cantankerous old women who share a haunting secret, a gravely ill and estranged son of one of those women, and two territorial swans. Through the winter, Molly struggles to nurture them as she searches for a future for herself. As with most of Siddons's heroines, Molly is an engaging woman who battles successfully with adversity and remains unsinkable. The author's fans will be delighted with her latest novel and its setting.--Katherine Fitch, Lake Braddock Middle School, Burke, VA
Kirkus Reviews
Siddons has her formula down to a science ("Fault Lines", 1995, etc.), as this latest once again demonstrates.

Molly Bell Redwine is a woman who's never had a chance to discover herself. As a child, she lived under the shadow of her glamorous mother. As a young adult, she met and married Tee, a Coca-Cola executive who fathered her two children, Teddy and Caroline, and kept her comfortable in the manner to which she'd become accustomed. When Tee announces out of the blue that he's met a younger woman, a Coke attorney, and wants a divorce, and Molly's mother up and dies without any notice, Molly's stable if painfully dull Atlanta existence is thrown into disarray. On the advice of her transplanted northern friend Liv, she heads to Liv's house in Martha's Vineyard for the rest of the summer, and to everyone's surprise decides to stay once Liv heads back south at the end of the season. On the island, Molly finds herself in an unusual position as house-sitter, nurse, and friend to two elderly, ill women, and as part-time caretaker to one of the women's sons, who's suffering from cancer and has recently had his leg amputated. On top of it all, Molly's depressed, mourning father joins her, hoping to find solace in this place where he and his daughter are anonymous. But as is often the case—at least in a good Siddons novel—alone doesn't last for long, and love comes when it's least expected. What has seemed at first an unbearable burden transforms Molly in ways she couldn't have imagined.

Far-fetched but oddly compelling, this beaten-down housewife's journey to self-reliance and happiness has surprising quirks, lively characters, and actual feeling.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060176150
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/29/1997
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 6.43 (w) x 9.57 (h) x 1.22 (d)

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.

Biography

Born in 1936 in a small town near Atlanta, Anne Rivers Siddons was raised to be a dutiful daughter of the South -- popular, well-mannered, studious, and observant of all the cultural mores of time and place. She attended Alabama's Auburn University in the mid-1950s, just as the Civil Rights Movement was gathering steam. Siddons worked on the staff of Auburn's student newspaper and wrote an editorial in favor of integration. When the administration asked her to pull the piece, she refused. The column ran with an official disclaimer from the university, attracting national attention and giving young Siddons her first taste of the power of the written word.

After a brief stint in the advertising department of a bank, Siddons took a position with the up and coming regional magazine Atlanta, where she worked her way up to senior editor. Impressed by her writing ability, an editor at Doubleday offered her a two-book contract. She debuted in 1975 with a collection of nonfiction essays; the following year, she published Heartbreak Hotel, a semi-autobiographical novel about a privileged Southern coed who comes of age during the summer of 1956.

With the notable exception of 1978's The House Next Door, a chilling contemporary gothic compared by Stephen King to Shirley Jackson's classic horror novel The Haunting of Hill House, Siddons has produced a string of well-written, imaginative, and emotionally resonant stories of love and loss -- all firmly rooted in the culture of the modern South. Her books are consistent bestsellers, with 1988's Peachtree Road (1988) arguably her biggest commercial success. Described by her friend and peer, Pat Conroy, as "the Southern novel for our generation," the book sheds illuminating light on the changing landscape of mid-20th-century Atlanta society.

Although her status as a "regional" writer accounts partially for Siddons' appeal, ultimately fans love her books because they portray with compassion and truth the real lives of women who transcend the difficulties of love and marriage, family, friendship, and growing up.

Good To Know

Although she is often compared with another Atlanta author, Margaret Mitchel, Siddons insists that the South she writes about is not the romanticized version found in Gone With the Wind. Instead, her relationship with the region is loving, but realistic. "It's like an old marriage or a long marriage. The commitment is absolute, but the romance has long since worn off...I want to write about it as it really is: I don't want to romanticize it."

Siddons' debut novel Heartberak Hotel was turned into the 1989 movie Heart of Dixie, starry Ally Sheedy, Virginia Madsen, and Phoebe Cates.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Sybil Anne Rivers Siddons (full name)
    2. Hometown:
      Charleston, South Carolina and a summer home in Maine overlooking Penobscot Bay
    1. Date of Birth:
      January 9, 1936
    2. Place of Birth:
      Atlanta, Georgia
    1. Education:
      B.A., Auburn University, 1958; Atlanta School of Art, 1958

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

You know how people are always saying "I knew it by the back of my neck" when they mean those occasional scalding slashes of intuition that later prove to be true? My mother is always saying it, though she is not always right. Nevertheless, in my half-Celt family, the back of one's neck is a hallowed harbinger of things to come.

I first knew my husband was being unfaithful to me, not by the back of my neck, but by the skin of my buttocks, which, given the ultimate sorry progress of things, was probably prophetic. I always thought it was grossly unfair that Tee got all the fun and I got dermatitis of the posterior, but there you are. According again to my mother, it was a pattern we had laid down in stone in the early days of our marriage.

I had been having fierce itching and red welts off and on since Christmas, but at first I put it down to the five pound box of candied ginger Tee's boss sent us and a savage new panty girdle that enabled me to get into my white beaded silk pantsuit. Later, when the itching and welting did not go away, I switched bath soap and body lotion, and still later had the furnace and air conditioning unit cleaned and found some plain unbleached cotton sheets for our bed. Still I felt as if I had been sitting in poison ivy, and often caught myself absently scratching in public as well as private. Teddy, my eighteen-year-old son, was mortified, and my best friend, Carrie Davies, asked me more than once, her elegant eyebrow raised, what was wrong. Tee would have teased me unmercifully, but he was not around much that winter and spring. Coca Cola was bringing out twonew youth-oriented soft drinks, and Tee and his team were involved in the test marketing, which meant near-constant travel to the designated markets across the country. I could have scratched my behind and picked my nose at the same time on the steps of St. Philips and poor Tee, jet-lagged and teen-surfeited, would not have noticed.

When I woke myself in the middle of a hot May night clawing my skin so that the blood ran, I made an appointment with Charlie Davies, and was distressed enough so that he worked me in at lunchtime the next day.

"Well, Moonbeam, drop your britches and lay down here and let's see what we got," he roared, and I did, not really caring that the paper gown Charlie's nurse had provided me gapped significantly when I tied it around my waist. Charlie and Tee had been roommates at the University of Georgia, and I had known Tee only two weeks longer than I had Charlie. Charlie had married Carrie Carmichael, my Tri Delta sister, a week after Tee and I had married . . . we had all been in each other's weddings . . . and we had kept the friendship going all through med school and internship and then practice for Charlie and the early and middle years at the Coca Cola Company for Tee. Charlie had probably seen my bare bottom more than once, given the houseparties and vacations we four spent together.

He had called me Moonbeam after Al Capp's dark, statuesque and gloriously messy backwoods siren, Moonbeam McSwine, since the first time we met. I allow no one else to do so, not even Tee.

I rolled over onto my stomach and Charlie pulled back the paper gown and gave a long, low whistle. "Shit, Molly, has Big Tee been floggin' you, or what? You look like you been diddlin' in the briar patch."

Despite his redneck patter, Charlie is a very good doctor, or he would not have any patients. Atlanta is full of crisp, no-nonsense out-of-towners who would draw the line, I thought, at being told to get nekkid and lay on down, unless the one saying it was supremely good at what he did. Charlie was. In time, the good-ole-boy gambit became a trademark, a trick, something people laughed indulgently about at parties. If it secretly annoyed me more than it amused, I never thought to verbalize it.

"How bad does it look?" I said.

"Honey, how bad can your sweet ass look? The day Tee married you the entire Chi Phi house went into mournin' for that booty. Though now that you mention it, there seems to be a good bit more of it these days, huh?"

And he slapped me gently on the buttock. I felt it quiver like jellied consomme under his thick fingers. There was indeed more of me now than when I had married. Where once people had looked at me and seen a tall, sinewy sun-bronzed Amazon with a shock of wild blue-black hair and electric blue eyes, now they saw a big woman—a really big woman—with wild, gray-black hair, all teeth and leathery-tanned skin and swimming, myopic eyes behind outsize tortoise shell glasses. Then, they had stared at the slap-dash, coltish grace and vividness that had been mine. Now they simply stared at big.

"Christ, it's a goddamned Valkyrie," I had overheard someone say at last year's performance of The Ring when it came to Atlanta. Tee and I had both laughed. I seldom thought about the added pounds, since they did not for a moment inhibit my life, and Tee never seemed to notice.

"I mean the rash, or whatever it is, you horny hound," I said now to Charlie.

"Well, I've seen worse," he said. "Saw jungle rot once, when I was a resident at Grady."

"Come on, Charlie, what is it? What do I do about it? I never had anything like this before."

"I don't know yet," he said, poking and prodding. "I'd say some kind of contact dermatitis, only you don't have a history of allergies, that I remember. I'm going to give you a little cortisone by injection and some pills and ointment, and if it's not healed by the time you've finished them I'm going to send you to Bud Allison. We need to clear this up. I don't imagine Tee is aesthetically thrilled by the state of your behind, is he?"

"I don't think he's even noticed," I said. "He's been out of town so much with these new Coke things that all we've had time to do is wave in passing. It's supposed to slack off in a couple of weeks though, and I wish we could get rid of this by then. He'll think I have been rolling around in the alien corn patch."

"Gon' sting a little bit," Charlie said, and I felt the cool prick of a needle. Then Charlie said, "I thought he was back by now. I saw him the other day over at that new condominium thing in midtown, the one that looks like a cow's tit caught in a wringer, you know. I guess he was helping Caroline move in there; he was toting a palm tree so big only his beady eyes were peekin' out of it, and she was bent double laughing. She's a honey, isn't she? The image of you at that age, thank God. Y'all must be real proud of her. She working around midtown?"

He pricked me again.

"That must have been somebody else's beady eyes peeking out of that palm tree, Charlie," I said. "Ow. That does sting. Caroline is married and living in Memphis, with a brand new baby. Honestly. You knew that; y'all sent the baby a silver cup from Tiffany. Must have killed you to pay for it."

Charlie took his hand off my buttocks. He was silent for a space of time, then he said, "You get dressed and come on in the office, and I'll write you out those prescriptions."

I heard his heavy steps leaving the examining room. I heaved myself up off the table. It hit me as I swung my bare legs over the side. The skin of my face felt as if a silent explosion had gone off in the little room. I actually felt the wind and the percussion of it. The room brightened as if flood lamps had been switched on, and when I took a breath there was only stale hollowness in my lungs. A new hot, red welt sizzled across my left buttock.

"Tee has somebody else," I thought. "He has had, since Christmas, at least. That was Tee Charlie saw. He knows it was. And that was her Tee was moving into that condo."

I sat for a moment with my hands in my paper lap, one cupped on top of the other, a gesture like you make in communion, waiting to receive the Host. I could not seem to focus my eyes. My ears rang. Through it all the skin of my behind raged and shrieked.

I stood up and dropped my paper gown and put on my clothes and went out of the little room and down the hall and out through the reception area to the elevator. I never got the prescriptions Charlie wrote for me.

When the elevator came, I got on with a handful of lunch-bound people, some in white coats, and stared vacantly at the quilted bronze doors, and thought, "the family. What is this going to mean for the family?"

By the time I stepped out onto the hot sidewalk running along Peachtree Street, I felt as if I were on fire from the back of my waist to my knees. I had the absurd and terrible notion that the weeping redness was sliding down to my ankles and puddling in my shoes, the visible stigmata of betrayal and foolishness.


Read More Show Less

First Chapter

Chapter One

You know how people are always saying "I knew it by the back of my neck" when they mean those occasional scalding slashes of intuition that later prove to be true? My mother is always saying it, though she is not always right. Nevertheless, in my half-Celt family, the back of one's neck is a hallowed harbinger of things to come.

I first knew my husband was being unfaithful to me, not by the back of my neck, but by the skin of my buttocks, which, given the ultimate sorry progress of things, was probably prophetic. I always thought it was grossly unfair that Tee got all the fun and I got dermatitis of the posterior, but there you are. According again to my mother, it was a pattern we had laid down in stone in the early days of our marriage.

I had been having fierce itching and red welts off and on since Christmas, but at first I put it down to the five pound box of candied ginger Tee's boss sent us and a savage new panty girdle that enabled me to get into my white beaded silk pantsuit. Later, when the itching and welting did not go away, I switched bath soap and body lotion, and still later had the furnace and air conditioning unit cleaned and found some plain unbleached cotton sheets for our bed. Still I felt as if I had been sitting in poison ivy, and often caught myself absently scratching in public as well as private. Teddy, my eighteen-year-old son, was mortified, and my best friend, Carrie Davies, asked me more than once, her elegant eyebrow raised, what was wrong. Tee would have teased me unmercifully, but he was not around much that winter and spring. Coca Cola was bringing out twonew youth-oriented soft drinks, and Tee and his team were involved in the test marketing, which meant near-constant travel to the designated markets across the country. I could have scratched my behind and picked my nose at the same time on the steps of St. Philips and poor Tee, jet-lagged and teen-surfeited, would not have noticed.

When I woke myself in the middle of a hot May night clawing my skin so that the blood ran, I made an appointment with Charlie Davies, and was distressed enough so that he worked me in at lunchtime the next day.

"Well, Moonbeam, drop your britches and lay down here and let's see what we got," he roared, and I did, not really caring that the paper gown Charlie's nurse had provided me gapped significantly when I tied it around my waist. Charlie and Tee had been roommates at the University of Georgia, and I had known Tee only two weeks longer than I had Charlie. Charlie had married Carrie Carmichael, my Tri Delta sister, a week after Tee and I had married . . . we had all been in each other's weddings . . . and we had kept the friendship going all through med school and internship and then practice for Charlie and the early and middle years at the Coca Cola Company for Tee. Charlie had probably seen my bare bottom more than once, given the houseparties and vacations we four spent together.

He had called me Moonbeam after Al Capp's dark, statuesque and gloriously messy backwoods siren, Moonbeam McSwine, since the first time we met. I allow no one else to do so, not even Tee.

I rolled over onto my stomach and Charlie pulled back the paper gown and gave a long, low whistle. "Shit, Molly, has Big Tee been floggin' you, or what? You look like you been diddlin' in the briar patch."

Despite his redneck patter, Charlie is a very good doctor, or he would not have any patients. Atlanta is full of crisp, no-nonsense out-of-towners who would draw the line, I thought, at being told to get nekkid and lay on down, unless the one saying it was supremely good at what he did. Charlie was. In time, the good-ole-boy gambit became a trademark, a trick, something people laughed indulgently about at parties. If it secretly annoyed me more than it amused, I never thought to verbalize it.

"How bad does it look?" I said.

"Honey, how bad can your sweet ass look? The day Tee married you the entire Chi Phi house went into mournin' for that booty. Though now that you mention it, there seems to be a good bit more of it these days, huh?"

And he slapped me gently on the buttock. I felt it quiver like jellied consomme under his thick fingers. There was indeed more of me now than when I had married. Where once people had looked at me and seen a tall, sinewy sun-bronzed Amazon with a shock of wild blue-black hair and electric blue eyes, now they saw a big woman--a really big woman--with wild, gray-black hair, all teeth and leathery-tanned skin and swimming, myopic eyes behind outsize tortoise shell glasses. Then, they had stared at the slap-dash, coltish grace and vividness that had been mine. Now they simply stared at big.

"Christ, it's a goddamned Valkyrie," I had overheard someone say at last year's performance of The Ring when it came to Atlanta. Tee and I had both laughed. I seldom thought about the added pounds, since they did not for a moment inhibit my life, and Tee never seemed to notice.

"I mean the rash, or whatever it is, you horny hound," I said now to Charlie.

"Well, I've seen worse," he said. "Saw jungle rot once, when I was a resident at Grady."

"Come on, Charlie, what is it? What do I do about it? I never had anything like this before."

"I don't know yet," he said, poking and prodding. "I'd say some kind of contact dermatitis, only you don't have a history of allergies, that I remember. I'm going to give you a little cortisone by injection and some pills and ointment, and if it's not healed by the time you've finished them I'm going to send you to Bud Allison. We need to clear this up. I don't imagine Tee is aesthetically thrilled by the state of your behind, is he?"

"I don't think he's even noticed," I said. "He's been out of town so much with these new Coke things that all we've had time to do is wave in passing. It's supposed to slack off in a couple of weeks though, and I wish we could get rid of this by then. He'll think I have been rolling around in the alien corn patch."

"Gon' sting a little bit," Charlie said, and I felt the cool prick of a needle. Then Charlie said, "I thought he was back by now. I saw him the other day over at that new condominium thing in midtown, the one that looks like a cow's tit caught in a wringer, you know. I guess he was helping Caroline move in there; he was toting a palm tree so big only his beady eyes were peekin' out of it, and she was bent double laughing. She's a honey, isn't she? The image of you at that age, thank God. Y'all must be real proud of her. She working around midtown?"

He pricked me again.

"That must have been somebody else's beady eyes peeking out of that palm tree, Charlie," I said. "Ow. That does sting. Caroline is married and living in Memphis, with a brand new baby. Honestly. You knew that; y'all sent the baby a silver cup from Tiffany. Must have killed you to pay for it."

Charlie took his hand off my buttocks. He was silent for a space of time, then he said, "You get dressed and come on in the office, and I'll write you out those prescriptions."

I heard his heavy steps leaving the examining room. I heaved myself up off the table. It hit me as I swung my bare legs over the side. The skin of my face felt as if a silent explosion had gone off in the little room. I actually felt the wind and the percussion of it. The room brightened as if flood lamps had been switched on, and when I took a breath there was only stale hollowness in my lungs. A new hot, red welt sizzled across my left buttock.

"Tee has somebody else," I thought. "He has had, since Christmas, at least. That was Tee Charlie saw. He knows it was. And that was her Tee was moving into that condo."

I sat for a moment with my hands in my paper lap, one cupped on top of the other, a gesture like you make in communion, waiting to receive the Host. I could not seem to focus my eyes. My ears rang. Through it all the skin of my behind raged and shrieked.

I stood up and dropped my paper gown and put on my clothes and went out of the little room and down the hall and out through the reception area to the elevator. I never got the prescriptions Charlie wrote for me.

When the elevator came, I got on with a handful of lunch-bound people, some in white coats, and stared vacantly at the quilted bronze doors, and thought, "the family. What is this going to mean for the family?"

By the time I stepped out onto the hot sidewalk running along Peachtree Street, I felt as if I were on fire from the back of my waist to my knees. I had the absurd and terrible notion that the weeping redness was sliding down to my ankles and puddling in my shoes, the visible stigmata of betrayal and foolishness.


Up Island. Copyright © by Anne Rivers Siddons. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Interviews & Essays

On Tuesday, August 26, barnesandnoble.com welcomed Anne Rivers Siddons, author of UP ISLAND.


Moderator: Hello, and welcome to barnesandnoble.com's Live Events Auditorium! We're glad you could make it. Tonight Anne Rivers Siddons will be here to discuss her books and her writing. Welcome, Ms. Siddons! We're glad you could join us here tonight!

Anne Rivers Siddons: Thank you!



Theodore Persimmons from Nashville, TN: Good Evening Ms. Siddons. It is interesting to see that your first published book was actually a collection of non-fiction essays about your life, JOHN CHANCELLOR MAKES ME CRY. Tell me, what inspired you to write that collection? Did you then realize that you had a gift and appetite for writing, so you launched into a fiction career? Thank you.

Anne Rivers Siddons: Theodore, let's see. That was done in response to a collection of essays I had done in a magazine, seen by a New York Editor, and he wrote me a letter and said, if you'd ever like to do a book, please get in touch with us. And I thought, a friend of mine in New York had stolen some Doubleday stationery and was putting me on. So that became my first book, and since I had a history already with that editor, I went on to write fiction, which was something that I had always wanted to do.



Roger Bautista from Indiana: Ms. Siddons, you are a true southern belle in the nicest sense of the word. Your books have been published in so many languages and countries, it must be hard to keep track. Tell me, did you ever expect this when you started writing at Auburn?

Anne Rivers Siddons: Oh dear no, I never did. It still amazes me when I think about it. I can remember feeling so incredibly lucky when my first book went to paperback, and every book still feels like Christmas. It is the very luckiest of careers.



Rory from Florida: Hey Ann, I have four questions for you.

  • 1) I am planning to write a book of commentaries very soon (Since school has started, I have decided to start writing it in December) . When I start writing this book, should I think of what commentaries I want to write? Do some research? What should I do?

  • 2) How do you overcome writers' block?

  • 3) How much time do you spend writing?

  • 4) How do you put life into your characters? Do you use character sheets? Do you watch people's personalities and write them down? How do you do it?
  • Thanks a bunch!!!!

    Anne Rivers Siddons: Rory, I think what you should think about is what interests you, what moves you, what you feel passionate about. If you read enough, you will find the essayists that inspire you. Every writer has to find his own way, his own path, his own schedule. AS for writer's block, you just have to tough it out. You have to write Every day, and you wait it out. Wait at least an hour, and if nothing comes, get up and do something else. But I think you are young, you can just tough it out. It will be great training for later.



    Mark from NYC: Have you ever done an online interview before? What do you think of the Internet as a forum for reaching your readers?

    Anne Rivers Siddons: I have done two online interviews before. I thought they were great fun! It is such a new feeling for me, it is totally not my generation. I think it is a wonderful thing, especially as a means to reach today's young writers. I'd love to spend more time on thins -- I really think that it will be the communicator of the future, and us mid-life writers have to learn it. The Internet readers have so much to say to us, we have so much to learn from them.



    Marianne from Long Island, N.Y.: In your book "Outer Banks", the main character had ovarian cancer. Also, in another book you wrote, another character also had cancer (it's been a while since I've read them both so I don't remember their names) . The question is, are you drawing from personal experiences when you explore their feelings about their disease? Also, In "Up Island" you give a pretty good picture of how influential the Coco Cola Co. is in Atlanta. Are you empathizing, or is your material from heresay? I love your books and can't get enough of how you explore the depths of your female character's emotions.

    Anne Rivers Siddons: I'm not drawing from personal experience, but that of people very close to me. One person beat it, one didn't. I went through it with both of them, and like most writers, I have the odd ability to feel through them what it would be like if it happened to me. As to the second part kind of both. In Atlanta, you just can't help but know Coca Cola people. There are so many of them. Coca Cola is like air, or water. And like any one industry city, (we have more but that's the predominant one) the sons of the old money just move into their jobs at Coca Cola like they do into their homes and their clubs, it is an interesting thing to me. I find that they grow up educated, good-looking and sharp, but unchallenged until something comes along. It is like the young princes who move into the auto industry in Detroit. It is all very interesting to me.



    nancy from hinsdale: Have any of your books been autobiographical?

    Anne Rivers Siddons: There is a good bit of me in every one of my books, and my way of looking at the world, my point of view.And One or two have been a good bit more directly autobiographical. HOMEPLACE, DOWNTOWN... and my first novel, HEARTBREAK HOTEl, certainly was one Not so much as to what directly happened, but my place in those worlds. I don't think a writer can keep him or herself out of a book no matter what he or she says. If you read enough of any writer's work, you would have a pretty good picture of that person.



    Amy G from NYC: Anne, I really like the picture of you and your cat - what is his/her name? Have you ever included he/she in one of your novels?

    Anne Rivers Siddons: There are two of them, Maine Coon Cats, and their names are Maggie and Maude, after the heroines of my first book, HEARTBREAK HOTEL and COLONY. I have gotten my cats into several of my books, and my first book was a book of non-fiction essays called JOHN CHANCELLOR MAKES ME CRY and there was a lot about the cats in that. All my books seem to have animals -- I can't seem to do a book without a menagerie of some sort.



    Howard Stacks from Kentucky: Hello Anne. Do you continue to do any print journalism? Do (did) you like newspaper work?

    Anne Rivers Siddons: I loved it! It will always just have the very center core of my heart. Despite the bum rap the media gets now, it continues to be a very important part of American life, and is a valuable thing to do. I do sometimes still do short pieces, thought I don't have much time. It is nice to do something that is over in two days instead of eight months. And it is my first love -- I did magazine work for a long time.



    Amy Loyall from Williamsburg, VA: Will your new character Molly Redwine have any long-lost relation to Olivia Redwine Bondurant? I just finished Peach Tree Road - loved it!!

    Anne Rivers Siddons: It's a common name in my part of the South, and I have many strands of Redwine friends around the South, and I think subconsciously I put them, or the name into my work. But no relation that I had intended



    Yolanda Washington from Auburn, ALA: How do you think the Auburn Tigers are going to do this year on the football field? Do you follow the rivalries? Auburn opens up against Virginia a week from Thursday. WAR EAGLE!!!

    Anne Rivers Siddons: WAR EAGLE Yolanda! I have no idea how they are going to do, but they always have a good team. I certainly do follow it, and when I get home in mid-October, I will certainly follow it, and go down to a few of the games!



    Marianne from Long Island, New York: My daughter (25) moved from New York to Atlanta two weeks ago and I would love to have her meet and speak to someone as in touch with life as you are. I think that being around somebody as knowledgeable as you and with the talent to project that knowledge so that it touches the reader, would be a great gift. Do you think this would be possible?

    Anne Rivers Siddons: All things are possible...we're in the phone book, if she wants to give a call after Nov. 1 maybe we can have a quick cup of tea or something. She's going to love Atlanta. A great city for young folks.



    Davis from Atlanta: ANy more movie plans in the future?

    Anne Rivers Siddons: Davis, you just never know. I've got 5 books under option currently, which really doesn't mean much until somebody produces some money and says roll camera. I always ask my agent to inform me whenever something gets close. Somebody is quite interested in UP ISLAND which is encouraging, and COLONY might turn out as a miniseries, so we'll have to just wait and see. Those are the best bets right now.



    Lorie from Cincinnati: It seems a lot of famous people have worked odd part-time jobs to support them until they "make it big". Do you have any interesting stories from your early career?

    Anne Rivers Siddons: I worked for either an advertising agency or a magazine publisher most of the time, and I was never a dog-walker or a dishwasher or a skydiver, thought I think I would have liked to be. I think any writer has to do some sort of other job before they make it big, but all good writers have to be writing all the time. My mother always told me, "It's never too late to go back for that teaching certificate," and I would laugh and tell her that I think it probably is.



    Virginia Gehrig from Framingham, MA: It's so nice to "meet" you Ms Siddons. I truly enjoy your writing and I think that Colony is one of the best books I've ever read. I especially like your strong women protagonists and the journey they make to find their true selves. My question centers around that...why does their journey always involve a sexual encounter (commonly with one that is not their life partner) ? Is it a commentary on how women define themselves, or it is simply a bit of spice for the story?

    Anne Rivers Siddons: I think it is a commentary on the fact that what they are leaving has not satisfied them on any deep, connected, human level. Some of them have been in marriages that maybe would have never truly satisfied them. Many of them needed to know something about themselves that they did not know before because they were so busy taking care of someone else, and a deep part of that knowledge was probably physical and sensual. My books cover the long lives of the characters involved, and as they say in my part of the South, over time, "people just will do it." It is not a conscious thing to spice up a book, because if it were, I could make more money doing romance novels.



    Bertie Roberts from Columbus Ohio: Why another book about a fink of a husband? Aren't any of them worth keeping?ARS

    Anne Rivers Siddons: Oh yes! The book I'm just starting is about a wonderful marriage. More of my books have been about strong men than any other.



    Dyan Yordy from Grosse Pointe, Michigan: I loved Up Island and have read most of your other books as well. I am currently reading Downtown. Can you tell me if any of your main characters like Molly or Smoky are based on real people or if perhaps they may be a compilation of many people you have known? Thanks!!!

    Anne Rivers Siddons: You are right -- I have never tried to duplicate a real person, I don't think I;m good enough to do that. But there are kinds of people, personality types, that I am drawn to , because they are vulnerable, complicated, and I can take them on a journey. I have only used real people in a historical context twice. Martin Kuther King Jr. in DOWNTOWN and the Mayor of Atlanta, simply because he had to be there as he was. It was only his public persona that I was writing about. There are other characters which are a combination of characteristics that I find in people.



    William Gemming from Houston: What other writers do you keep in touch with?ARS

    Anne Rivers Siddons: One way or another, quite a lot of them. Pat Conroy is a great friend, and has been for 20 years. Here in Maine, my next door neighbor is Roger Angell, the New Yorker writer. Christopher Buckley, a terrific writer in his own right. And I have friends that I have met all over the country doing tours. But my close friends tend to me a circle of writers from the South, friendships that began long before we started writing.



    Marianne from Long Island, New York: Ms. Siddons, have you met Gail Godwin? Do you feel there is a similarity of writing styles and materials between you and she? What do you think of her work (no fear, you are still my favorite author)

    Anne Rivers Siddons: I met her years ago. We were both starting out. I read her, I think she is wonderful. That is the only contact I have with her, though your comparison is a great compliment. She is a voice to be remembered out of the South. I think we have similarities , both coming out of the South, from the same generation. We both know the same territories.



    Christine from Atlanta: Ms. Siddons, do you take ideas for your novels and if so how would one go about sharing one with you? Also I wanted you to know one of my most cherished possessions is an autographed copy of one of your novels. My husband made a special trip to Lenox Square and he knows I admire your writings and he hates Lenox Square. Also I read your May interview in the Atlanta paper and was saddened to hear you may be moving. As a rare native I too am deeply disappointed in what we have become and how we preserve and cherish so little. One more comment...I had to smile when Molly Redwine commented on the Darlington Apartment population sign. I too have done the same thing many times. All your characters so often reflect my own thoughts that I cannot seem to express other than in my head. I guess that is why your novels are so enjoyable, especially to southern ladies.

    Anne Rivers Siddons: It is a great compliment, I'm so glad. I get ideas from other people, even if it is just something someone says in passing. I...would hate to take your idea and write a book from it. If you feel that idea in you, feel you have a book in it, I urge you to fiddle around with it and see if you can write it, get it out yourself. I've always thought that far more people can write than do.



    Jane from Louisville: Who influences your own writing? Margaret Mitchell? Eudora Welty? Willa Cather?

    Anne Rivers Siddons: All of the above! I think a writer, long before they are ever a writer, is a reader. And I think that any writer that has influenced or touched you deeply will translate into your very own writing. Margaret Mitchell is hard to escape in Atlanta, she is an enormously introspective historian. I adore Eudora Welty. Willa Cather is another huge influence. I think that without question many of the writers who have changed me, formed me, have been women writers.



    Innes from Martha's Vineyard: Hello Anne! I was here for your signing in June, I loved UP ISLAND, and I want to read it in the wintertime. Labor Day approaches, and I can feel Autumn in the air, that chilly anticipation that I both welcome and want to hold off for a few more weeks. A pleasant limbo -- and your book makes me think of all these pleasant things. Thank you, best of luck to you.

    Anne Rivers Siddons: What a lovely thing to say! You truly know the coming of Autumn ion New England. I will cherish that comment.



    Audree from Florida: As a tri-delt, I have enjoyed your references to the sorority. As a former Atlantan, I enjoyed your history and references to that city. I visited Martha's Vinyard, and recognized many locations you used. Thanks you for your creativity!

    Anne Rivers Siddons: That's lovely! We have lot's in common -- if I could remember the password I'd give it to you (in secret of course.)



    Ned S. from work: Where did the idea for the ornery swans come from? And what are their significance?

    Anne Rivers Siddons: The swans were a story I really did hear on Martha's Vineyard -- the story of the old man is a true story. It is a metaphor for survival, and renewal, and our ability to heal ourselves. I thought it was a great story. And you should know that swans are beautiful and very, very cranky.



    Moderator: Thanks for addressing all of our questions here tonight, Ms. Siddons! Please come back to discuss your next book! It's been our pleasure, good night!

    Anne Rivers Siddons: Please have me back, I loved every minute of it!


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    Reading Group Guide

    "My generation of women didn't have any notion that we'd ever have to take care of ourselves. When something like a divorce happens, it's devastating."
    Plot Summary
    It takes a severe rash on Molly Redwine's rear end to make her realize Tee, her husband of over twenty years and the father of her two children, is having an affair. As the wife of a valued and high ranking employee of Coca-Cola, the company that dominates Atlanta's industry, Molly enjoys all of the benefits accorded to her. She has a lovely home in the high-rent district of Ansley Park, membership in the exclusive Driving Club, and key positions in all the best charities in town, and most importantly, she has her family. But when Tee announces that he plans to marry his new lover, a successful and ambitious Coca-Cola lawyer, Molly stands to lose everything. When her domineering mother suddenly dies, and her children scatter across the country, and her Atlanta crowd slowly and subtly close ranks around Tee, Molly finds herself completely adrift. Devastated by her crumbling world, she takes refuge with her friend, Livvy, on Martha's Vineyard to recuperate and come to terms with her new loss. When the summer season ends, Molly decides to stay on, and takes a cottage on a remote, up island pond. In lieu of rent, she tends a pair of cantankerous swans and delivers food to their owners, an elderly and infirm pair of cousins. Molly finds her caretaking duties extended to include Dennis, the recently arrived young cancer patient living next door, and then her own grieving father, who comes to visit for Thanksgiving and Christmas. As Molly's stay up island widens the distance between her and herold life in Atlanta, she lets go of her outworn notions of family and becomes part of a strange, but very real, new family. As the long and brutal Vineyard winter closes in, Molly braces herself for the search for renewal and the strength to forge a new life for herself.

    Topics for Discussion
    1. What role do the swans, Charles and Di, play in the lives of each of their human caretakers? What do they represent for Luzia, Bella, Tim and Molly, respectively? And what do they give back to the humans in return for food? Why do you think Tim and Luzia are able to communicate with the swans better than anyone else? What is the significance of the fact that they are a rare breed of mute swans?

    2. When Molly's mother dies, her ghost begins visiting, first Molly, and then Tim, in their dreams. What is Belle's ghost trying to say to them? What does she want? And does she get it? What does Belle's hat mean to Molly when she first arrives on Martha's Vineyard? What does the hat come to mean for Molly?

    3. What kind of understanding of "family" did Molly inherit from her Mother? Did it change when Molly had a family of her own? How does her up island experience change her notions of family, and in what ways? How might her new understanding help her cope with loss and her husband's betrayal?

    4. Livvy says to Molly, "that's what middle age is, one loss after another . . . Didn't anybody ever tell you?" All of the people in Molly's Vineyard "family," her father, Dennis, Bella, Luzia, and herself, suffer from one or more devastating losses. How do they each cope differently with their losses? What enables each of them to ultimately find renewal and hope?

    5. Molly muses that her son Teddy was not losing his father from the divorce, "only I was losing. From the perfect skin of The Family, only I was being ejected. How could that be?" How does her separation and potential divorce from Tee irrevocably alter her relationships with her children, friends, and parents as well? How is it that only she "was losing?" And does that still hold true by the end of the novel?

    6. Molly agrees to stay in the small up island cottage on the condition that she is not required to become emotionally involved with the Ponders and their mysterious quarrels and struggles. What is it that draws her into the lives of her wards? When does Dennis Ponder cease being an abstract cancer patient and become "real" in her eyes? What kind of relationship do Dennis and Molly arrive at by the end of the novel? How would you characterize it?

    7. "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived." What is the significance of Thoreau's passage for Tim, Dennis and Molly?

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    Customer Reviews

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    See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 25 Customer Reviews
    • Anonymous

      Posted May 9, 2000

      Siddons inspires the jilted middle aged woman

      Anne Rivers Siddons has done it again! Her characters in Up Island are rich and multi-dimensional, and more importantly, believeable. Any middle aged woman who has given up hope while experiencing the misery involved in the break up of a long term relationship will absolutely love this book. In its pages the reader can laugh and cry, experience joy and pain, and begin to heal from the unfortunate turn of events in her life. It offers real hope of triumph over pain. Don't miss this one!

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Posted July 15, 2014

      I totally enjoyed this book! The relationships between the char

      I totally enjoyed this book! The relationships between the characters were so well developed and believable. The descriptions of the Island and of the Atlanta were dead-on. I found myself laughing and crying. Can't wait to read more from this author.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted December 26, 2013

      Perfect beach read.

      Engrossing. Thought provoking.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted June 24, 2013

      In my dreams

      Now when I want to escape my world I dream of the place in this book. Such a beautiful escape!

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    • Anonymous

      Posted January 14, 2012

      Wonderful Author

      This was the first book I read by Anne Rivers Siddons several years ago. I enjoyed it so much, I purchased it for my NOOK and read it again! She writes so well and describes everything in so much detail you feel like you are a part of the story. I have also read more of her books and feel the same about each of them.

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    • Posted August 5, 2009

      more from this reviewer

      Excellent

      Once more Anne Rivers Siddons brings to us a novel we can enjoy and the characters become very real. Pinkribbongal

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    • Anonymous

      Posted June 10, 2009

      Don't waste your time or money...

      Summering on the Vineyard at the family cottage is wonderful, and I looked forward to reading a book that was partially set there. I was disappointed. I'm often described as 'over-educated,' and pondered the reason for the vocabulary used. It's not impressive to me, or to others that I've spoken to that have read some of this author's other books. This is the 2nd book of hers I have read, and it is the last. I love reading and am a self-proclaimed bibliophile, but enough is enough.

      0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted February 16, 2009

      Slow to involve you but wraps around you like an old friend.

      Tell your family to get supper for themselves when you get toward the end because you're going to have difficulty doing anything else but read until you get to the last page...and then you will want to find someone else who's read it to discusss the book.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted April 12, 2006

      A book I couldn't put down!

      I have been reading a lot of murder mysteries and decided I needed a change! I loved the storyline of this book! I would reccommend it to everyone.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted December 1, 2002

      Very Good Book

      This book was my first Anne Rivers Siddons and I enjoyed it alot. Very good in the beginning, which I like a story that draws you in, this one kind of gets boring in the middle, I stuck with it and was glad I did. Very good ending. Will definitely read more by this author.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted October 25, 2001

      Compelling--You won't forget it

      I first read this novel years ago and while on vacation this summer, picked it up again. I liked it even more the second time! The richness of characters and the strong sense of place drew me right back in and I discovered insights I'd missed the first time. Siddons wrote a keeper.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted July 30, 2000

      Great Story, Lacks Climax

      Anne Rivers Siddons is an outstanding author, and this story is no exception. However, unlike many of her other novels, Up Island lacks both a climax and joy. I found it a rather downbeat novel on the whole. But this book is still a must-read for Siddons fans.

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