Book Review - Jackie K Cooper
ALL SUMMER LONG by Dorothea Benton Frank
Dorothea Benton Frank never ceases to surprise. Just when you think all of her novels have to be centered in the famed South Carolina low country she presents us with a novel that has the world as its backdrop. In ALL SUMMER LONG Frank gives us a glimpse as to how the one per cent live and love and also how they visit exotic places around the globe. Don't worry she still anchors the story with a sensible heroine and teaches us some down South morals along the way.
Olivia Ritchie is a very successful interior designer and her husband Nicholas Seymour is a college professor. They are living a good life in Manhattan but then Nick decides to retire and he wants Olivia to join him in the South Carolina low country on Sullivan's Island. Olivia agrees to go even though it is not a good time for her. Her finances are actually in a bit of a pinch due to the recession and a lack of new deals coming her way. Nick doesn't know about this but if things get any tighter he might have to be clued in on money matters.
The one bright spot on the horizon is Olivia's friendship with Bob and Maritza Vasile. They are constantly buying homes or other real estate and they always get Olivia to handle the furnishings. If Olivia can get them to give her one good project then she might be able to survive until some new clients come along. The Vasiles are ultra rich so money with them is never a part of the discussion, plus they love Olivia and Nick and often take them along on their travels.
Frank describes this jet setting type of lifestyle while also reminding us even the wealthy have problems. On one of their visits to Bob's yacht, Olivia gets a first hand view of how Bob's eye has begun to roam once more. This time he is flirting with he and Maritza's nanny. It seems the paradise Maritza thinks she inhabits is about to come crashing down. Maybe it is up to Olivia to save the day, marriage and her career.
The style of this story can whip back and forth from bizarre to heartbreaking. There are so many situations at play. Also each and every character has so many different facets that only a truly strong storyteller can keep them lined up and in their lanes. Just when things seem to be flying out of control cool heads prevail and the story stays afloat.
The true love story between Olivia and Nick is at the heart of this novel, but there is also emphasis on friendship and sharing. Olivia and Nick may not have the monetary wealth of their friends but they have a wealth of living experience that comes in handy in a variety of circumstances. Frank also provides Olivia with a growing acceptance of nature and its goodness that is almost religious in its execution.
Oh yes, Frank ends the whole story back in the low country where the tomatoes are ripe and the beaches are balmy. This author can only let her stories stray from this perfect spot for so long. But by the time she gets you back there her treaders will have had an amazing travel adventure with some fascinating people.
ALL SUMMER LONG is published by William Morrow. It contains 384 pages and sells for $26.99.
Jackie K Cooper