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Girl from the South

Girl from the South

3.5 7
by Joanna Trollope

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When Gillon comes back to her native Charleston, she has a young Englishman in tow. He has accompanied her on a lark, planning to take pictures. But he soon falls in love with the sights of South Carolina, with Gillon's family-and perhaps, with Gillon herself...From the acclaimed author of Marrying the Mistress, this is an unforgettable novel about feeling


When Gillon comes back to her native Charleston, she has a young Englishman in tow. He has accompanied her on a lark, planning to take pictures. But he soon falls in love with the sights of South Carolina, with Gillon's family-and perhaps, with Gillon herself...From the acclaimed author of Marrying the Mistress, this is an unforgettable novel about feeling like a fish out of water-and finding those with whom we can breathe more easily.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"An elegant novel set in America." -O  Magazine

"Entertaining." -Washington Post

"Wonderful."-The New Orleans Times-Picayune

Susan Tekulve
At the center of this charming novel from bestselling British author Trollope is Henry Atkins, a London-based wildlife photographer who has lost interest in both the gray English landscape and his near-perfect girlfriend. When Henry meets Gillon Stokes, an unconventional girl from South Carolina working as an intern in London, she off-handedly invites him to visit her and her family in the U.S. Much to everyone's dismay, Henry follows Gillon to Charleston, where he falls in love with the low country wetlands, the antebellum architecture and Gillon's tight-knit family. As the Stokeses adopt Henry into their world, each member is forced to reassess the way he or she has been living. Though filled with gorgeous descriptions of tidal marshes, graceful houses and the gardens of Charleston's historic district, this novel is most satisfying when Trollope penetrates the surface of this hospitable yet closed society.
Publishers Weekly
An admired English author of wryly intelligent family dramas, Trollope has never enjoyed a particularly wide American readership. This very likable novel, which features a protagonist from South Carolina involved with an English visitor, might change that. It even offers the notion that American family traditions, particularly Southern ones, offer a stability that contemporary English relationships often lack. Gillon Stokes is the odd girl out in her tradition-bound Charleston family, and when she goes to London on a typically whimsical impulse to pursue art research, she catches the eye of nature photographer Henry. When she casually invites him back home for a visit, Henry is charmed by the same folkways that Gillon finds so stifling, and he soon becomes so much part of her family that he begins turning their sense of themselves and each other upside down. Back in London, Henry's girlfriend, Tilly, is having problems keeping his friend William at bay, and discovers that she cares more than she expected she would about Henry's defection. The contrast between the casual, rootless Londoners and the rather rigid, assured Southerners is deliciously pointed, and Trollope (The Best of Friends, etc.) offers two splendid scenes of very different mothers and daughters coming to terms with their dissimilarities. This is subtle, delicate entertainment that skillfully avoids romantic clich while offering a group of believably quirky characters learning to adjust to new maturity. National advertising. (June 4) Forecast: The book's quality and American settings could finally bring Trollope the U.S. readership she deserves. It's an ideal title for reading clubs and sales will be bolstered by a 10-city author tour. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Would that Trollope had stayed on her side of the pond. Instead, the prolific, popular English novelist (Marrying the Mistress) ricochets back and forth from Charleston, SC, to England, chronicling the relationships of several intertwined young people. The "girl from the South" is Gillon Stokes, who is in London working on an art exhibition catalog and trying to escape the constricted life her Southern upbringing imposes. Mind you, her mother, a psychiatrist in Charleston, doesn't quite fit the mold either. While in London, Gillon meets Henry Atkins, a discontented wildlife photographer on the brink of breaking up with his girlfriend. Shortly after Gillon returns to the South, Henry comes, too, is taken up by her family, and finds his true home, and love, there. More Maeve Binchy than Trollope, this rather mundane, predictable novel seems to be saying that "love isn't the answer." For those who expect the counterintuitively sympathetic characters of Trollope's previous novels and the unexpected denouements, this will be a disappointment. Fans will clamor for it, though. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/15/02.] Francine Fialkoff, "Library Journal" Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The prolific Trollope (Next of Kin, 2001, etc.) spins another engaging tale about life‘s twists and turns, occasioned as much by character as circumstance, and the ways family ties both help and hinder. Since college, art historian Gillon Stokes has alternately fled and returned to Charleston, South Carolina, drawn by love for her relatives but finding them constraining once she's actually there. When she learns that sister Ashley is pregnant, Gillon decides to leave Charleston again and accept a temporary art conservation job in London so she can avoid perfect Ashley's sure-to-be-perfect pregnancy. Meanwhile in London, photographer Henry Atkins, in a professional rut, feels ambivalent about live-in girlfriend Tilly's assertion that it's time for a commitment. After Gillon moves into a spare room in the apartment he and journalist Tilly share, he's only too happy to accept her casual invitation to visit her family in Charleston. The Stokeses are Old Charleston, with all the privileges and baggage that position entails, and Henry falls in love with the family, the city, and Gillon. Back for Ashley's delivery, Gillon is troubled by his uncritical acceptance of her kin and her own betrayal of Tilly, who treated her kindly. While our American heroine learns more about her inability ever to leave home completely ("There's nowhere else that I feel so vulnerable. And because of that, so alive"), English Tilly also examines her life. Realizing that Henry's not coming back, she becomes closer to her divorced mother, appreciating the matter-of -fact-comfort that Margot offers. The author deftly sketches her characters' situations with her usual hardheaded but empathetic understanding of the way theworld works for men and women. Vintage Trollope, fluidly and accessibly written as always, now with an American twist.

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.09(w) x 7.94(h) x 0.94(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt

The first novel set in America by the national bestselling author of Next of Kin and A Passionate Man.

Joanna Trollope, a descendant of Anthony Trollope and a #1 bestselling author in England, is most recently the author of A Spanish Lover and A Passionate Man. Her novels The Choir and The Rector's Wife were both adapted for Masterpiece Theatre.

Q> This novel is about "being yourself" as much as "finding yourself." What does Gillon discover about herself during her stay in London? How does it change her?

Q> In a way, when Gillon's life intersects with Henry's and Tilly's, she liberates both of them, though this is not immediately obvious. Discuss how this plays out.

Q> Gillon thinks she needs to be free of her family and Henry longs to have one. Despite their very different backgrounds, though, Henry and Gillon are both struggling with the same issues of self-discovery. How do they help each other?

Q> Ashley's post-partum depression reveals to her that aspects of her life have been oppressive and constraining. Why is childbirth cathartic? What role does Henry play in igniting her dissatisfaction?

Q> Sarah's conservative etiquette and absolute conformity are treated as the family standard. Discuss the burden this must have placed on Martha. Is her emotional distance a result of Sarah's very proper tutelage?

Q> In the end, one could feel that Sarah was the family member least true to herself--yet her example has shaped her entire family. What does this teach us about individuality and self-confidence?

Q> Both Gillon and Henry betray someone they love. Do you think the circumstances justify it? Explain.

Q>The good news in Girl from the South is that it's never too late: In revealing the temptation of her youth, even Sarah discovers her true self. Do you think that Boone and Martha have a real chance to break free of the roles they've slipped into, so that their relationship can be authentic?

Q> Do you think that Margot created a void in Tilly, a lack of selflove, by putting her own happiness first? How did this manifest itself in Tilly's life and how did it backfire in Margot's?

Q> Family is obviously a central theme in Girl from the South. How does Gillon's role in her family change? How does she wind up setting an enormous example for everyone else?

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
"An elegant novel set in America." -O Magazine

"Entertaining." -Washington Post

"Wonderful."-The New Orleans Times-Picayune

Meet the Author

Joanna Trollope has been writing fiction for more than 30 years. Some of her best known works include The Rector's Wife (her first #1 bestseller), A Village Affair, Other People's Children, and Marrying the Mistress. She was awarded the OBE in the 1996 Queen's Birthday Honors List for services to literature. She lives in England.

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Girl from the South 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I liked the idea of this book, and found myself relating on more than one level. However, I felt that the characters were underdeveloped...like the author tried to squeeze everything into a set amount of pages.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love Ms. Trollope's books, and this one is no exception! Her descriptive writing, the depth of her characters, and her attention to detail always ensure a top notch reading experience. Highly recommended!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I liked this book, but wanted more. I never felt like I knew the characters very well. I love reading because you get to go inside the characters mind and heart. That didn't happen in this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The descriptions of Charleston, SC make you want to up and move there too. The characters are all captivating. What a spectacular book for such a simple title.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
i loved this book...it had everything...romance, england and the south!