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Porch Lights

Porch Lights

4.2 178
by Dorothea Benton Frank

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“The queen of sassy Southern fiction.”
Charlotte Observer
“Dottie Frank’s books are sexy and hilarious. She has staked out the lowcountry of South Carolina as her personal literary property.”
—Pat Conroy, Author of The Prince of Tides and South of Broad
New York


“The queen of sassy Southern fiction.”
Charlotte Observer
“Dottie Frank’s books are sexy and hilarious. She has staked out the lowcountry of South Carolina as her personal literary property.”
—Pat Conroy, Author of The Prince of Tides and South of Broad
New York Times bestselling author Dorothea Benton Frank is back home in the Carolina lowcountry, spinning a tale that brims with the warmth, charm, heart, and humor that has become her trademark. Porch Lights is a stirring, emotionally rich multigenerational story—a poignant tale of life, love, and transformation—as a nurse, returning to Sullivans Island from the Afghanistan War, finds her life has been irrevocably altered by tragedy…and now must rediscover love and purpose with the help of her son and aging mother. An evocative visit to enchanting Sullivans Island with its unique pluff mud beaches, palmetto trees, and colorful local lore—a novel filled with unforgettable characters, and enlivened by tales of the notorious Blackbeard and his bloodthirsty pirate crew and eerie Edgar Allen Poe stories—Porch Lights stands tall among the very best works of not only Dottie Frank, but Anne Rivers Siddons, Rebecca Wells, Pat Conroy, and other masters of the modern Southern novel as well.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Frank's latest is her usual warmhearted look at grief, healing and South Carolina coastal life. Jackie McMullen, an Army nurse, is relieved from her deployment in Afghanistan when she becomes the sole support of her 10-year-old son, Charlie. Her husband, Jimmy, a New York City firefighter, was killed in the line of duty. Her mother, Annie Britt, insists Jackie bring Charlie, who is deeply depressed after the loss of his father, to summer at the "Salty Dog," the Britts' Sullivan's Island home. Although Charlie takes immediately to Lowcountry beachcombing, Jackie is unsettled by her mother's obvious crush on Steve, the widowed dermatologist next door, who, Jackie notes ruefully, would rather flirt with daughter than mother. Annie is still married to Jackie's father, Buster, although they have lived apart for 11 years (ever since Buster embarked on an extended fishing trip). But the presence of his only grandson lures Buster back to the Salty Dog, as does, although he won't admit it, rekindled passion for Annie since her recent overhaul by a Charleston makeover maven. When Charlie himself (channeling Annie's fondest wish) starts angling to stay on Sullivan's Island instead of returning to Brooklyn, Jackie is torn. Jimmy's grave is in New York, and her mother can still push every one of her buttons, for example when she insists on telling Charlie morbid Edgar Allen Poe tales right before bedtime. The sudden death of a neighbor, the husband of Annie's best friend Deb, triggers a vicarious crisis that soon has the Britt family rethinking its priorities. Jackie and Doctor Steve, of course, both glimpse the possibility of moving on from loss together. Although leavened with wry humor, particularly in the sections narrated by Annie, the story stumbles under the weight of too many clichés. Moreover, Frank's target demographic may be put off by the portrayal of Annie and other aging Boomers as positively geriatric. Happy families are all alike, which is why, even on the beach, they can be a bore.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
Large Print
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

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.

Brief Biography

New Jersey and Sullivan's Island, South Carolina
Place of Birth:
Sullivan's Island, South Carolina

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Porch Lights 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 178 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have loved all of DBF's books except for Full of Grace, Folly Beach, and this one. It was predictable and I did not like her use of strong religious tones in this book. I expect her books to be more exciting and keep me interested as to not want to put the book down. Somehow she has lost her touch with this book and her last. I get excited when I find out she has a new book coming out then read it and am extremely disappointed. Her early books were the best.
Trixie1 More than 1 year ago
The first few books that I read by Dorothea Benton Frank were delightful. I loved The Land of Mango Sunsets, Full of Grace, Pawleys Island, Shem Creek and Isle of Palms. They were dramatic, funny and a little raunchy at times. There came a point in time when I purchased another of her books (don't recall the name of that one) and I knew at once that something was missing. The magic was gone. It almost seemed that someone else wrote the book. I'm sorry to say I feel the same disappointment with Porch Lights. It has its moments, but the Dorothea Benton Frank style that I fell in love with is missing. I'm really having to push myself to finish it.
Leah-books More than 1 year ago
What a great read! really enjoyed it. It was very easy for me to connect to the characters
SharonRedfern More than 1 year ago
Every time I read one of DBF's books I want to move down south and get adopted by a big 'ole family and live like the characters in her book do. This book tells the story of a much fractured family. Annie and Buster is a married couple, both retired, that have been living apart for 11 years since he got fed up with her controlling ways. From Annie's point of view, it was the day after their daughter’s wedding, he had his junk all over the porch, and they had a bunch of relatives coming over so of course she was concerned. Jackie, the aforementioned daughter, is coming back to the low country with her son Charlie, aged 10. Jackie's husband Jimmie, an NYFD member had died on duty several months before and Jackie needs a break from life in Brooklyn. She is also grappling with decisions after being an active duty nurse in Afghanistan and now figuring out where her life will go. The visit is fraught with tension between Jackie and Annie and Annie and Buster. Throw in good looking Dr. Steve from next door who Annie has been lusting after in her heart and it just keeps getting deeper. Annie is the true southern woman who just keeps on living life every day no matter how hard it has become and who believes that good food is a cure for a lot of problems. She is a font of information for Charlie, telling him all about the low country ways, the battles in the area during the Revolution, and about local celebrity Edgar Allen Poe. One of things I love about DBF's books is that there is such a sense of normalcy in the lives of the characters, even when they are doing the craziest things- like scoping out Dr. Steve's unmentionables. The continuity of years of tradition becomes a balm that soothes the troubled soul whether you believe in the traditions or not. While this story does have a few incidents of emotional lows and one scary moment, generally it is a tale of a family finding its way back to each other by living day after day and opening their hearts to the healing they can give each other.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Once again, another home run! If you have not read Dorothea Benton Franks books - you poor deprived person. Go get any one of her numerous books and start reading. Her razor sharp wit will have you laughing out loud and wishing the book would not end. One thing I absolutely love about her writing is the fact that she takes the time to fully develop her many characters and intertwine them so skillfully. Very easy to read and understand her storylines.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Truly enjoyed this book, highly recommend it to Dorothea Benton Frank fans and new readers.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I want to move to south carolina now. This book for me touched on alot of heavy life topics and was able to do it in a page turning fashion without being opressive. I related to every single character in one way or another. Are we the masters of our own destiny or is fate weaving and cutting the strings? Read and find out!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put it down.
BeeMD More than 1 year ago
For a Southerner born and bred, these stories are like coming home
GLB42 More than 1 year ago
Dorothea Benton Frank does it again. I picked this up for a good summer read and couldn't put it down. As the reader, I became involved with the two main characters, feeling their love and anguish towards each other, only as a mother and daughter naturally would. If you enjoy light romance, family involvement and the role mother nature plays in bringing a family together, this is the book for you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read every single book Dottie has written. They are always great. I look forward to June every year for the next edition.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Though I can say I mostly enjoyed the book and probably deserves three stars instead of two, I just couldn't go there. I compare all of Frank's books to my favorite, "Land of Mango Sunsets." This book fell short as I never felt any deep love for the characters. Even the little boy was annoyingly perfect. I never felt the urgency for romance to bloom, and though I enjoy history in my stories, the lessons offered up about Sullivan's Island felt like they were just thrown into the story as a filler. I did fall in love with the Salty Dog though and I now feel the need to spend weeks on end sitting on the porch of a lowcountry beach house.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
First time to read this author. Was great for sitting by pool and relaxing with.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book much more than her previous book.....Folley Beach......that was a huge disappointment. Dorthea remains one of my favorite authors......I do love the South!
CasaDeColibris More than 1 year ago
Dorothea Benton Frank has the ability to transport you to Sullivan's Island and let you stay with her a while. You meet her friends and family. You see, smell, and taste daily life in Georgia, while feeling the heritage of the South in your bones! So make yourself some lemonade or sweet tea and get ready for tour of Georgia through the eyes of Dorothea Benton Frank.
WritermomHB More than 1 year ago
More Magic on Sullivan's Island... Porch Lights seems like a strange name for a novel, but in this case it is well-suited. On the fictional island of Sullivan’s Island, porch lights signal many things. Is someone home? Do they want company? And who are they, anyway? The author uses the real place of Sullivan’s Island for the setting for the fictional story. Her descriptions of the island, culture and characters are full. The book is written in the first person, each chapter being spoken from a different character. The relationships between the characters and the hardships they endure keep the reader turning the pages. I enjoyed this book and I would recommend it to just about anyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Didn't like her previous books but loved this one
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderful read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love Dorothea Benton Frank! This book was excellent and really enjoyed it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this heartwarming story. Great summer read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
a good story with likeable charaters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I bought the book yesterday and finished it today. It was a good book with an uplifting message. Nice to read something well written, interesting with human insight. I will look for more from this author.
VirtuousWomanKF More than 1 year ago
I liked Ms. Frank's newest novel and cherished the characters. Annie, is such a card and I loved her sense of humor. Jackie and Charlie's station in life will make you cry and you will sympathize with what life has dealt them. You know, life's struggles. This is a precious story of going home to heal and one of new beginnings. This is a great beach read and one I would truly recommend to someone that just wants to dip their toes in the surf, sit back, read and enjoy the lights glowing on the porch.
Darlene28 More than 1 year ago
DBF has done it again! Invited us back to the low country then did not disappoint. I fell in love with Sullivan’s island again. I loved this story. The last few books, while good just didn’t grab my heart like the earlier ones had done, but this one grabbed me and pulled me right in and you just didn’t want it to end. Thanks for this perfect beach read!!!
kimcat More than 1 year ago
All the pieces come together to understand all the characters and their choices in the Lovie trilogy.