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Shem Creek A Lowcountry Tale

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Shem Creek A Lowcountry Tale, by Dorthea Benton Frank, tells the story of a family learning how to start over after going through some hard times while getting the education of a lifetime in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. If the author sounds familiar, she should. The last time readers became acquainted with her, they were exploring life on the Isle of Palms.

Linda Breland has gone through the oft proclaimed gates of hell seeing that her marriage broke up, her youngest daughter is not exactly the shining star in her mother’s eye, and, once the summer finishes, her oldest daughter will be leaving for college at New York University.

Growing pains? Just a bit. When Linda’s slouch of a husband, Fred, left her, it was practically cause for celebration. After all, their marriage had pretty much gone south and was not liable to come up for air ever again. When he generously offered to pay her way so she could go see her sister, Mimi, in South Carolina, Linda should have guessed something was up. Fred did not have the emotional maturity to care for anyone except himself.

Sure enough, Lindsey and Gracie got to hear their father’s Thanksgiving announcement that he was getting married to his live in girlfriend. Worse yet, he had not even told them Patti had moved in. Linda had figured another woman might be in the works, but she was unprepared for the emotional shock.

Linda quickly takes matters into her own hands by driving herself and the girls down Interstate 95 to Mount Pleasant. All of them could use a fresh start. All she needs now is a job to support the three of them since Fred was not about to pick up the tab. A small glimmer of hope arrives when Linda meets Brad Jackson, the co owner of Jackson Hole, a restaurant out on Shem Creek.

Watching the lives of the Brelands is a story in itself. Watching Linda interact with Brad makes Shem Creek a potent page turner.

Of course, one could not write a must read novel without adding in a few more characters. Benton Frank makes good use of the soap operas which go on every day in the South by throwing in a divorce for Brad (and none too soon), with a teenaged son who gets caught in the middle. She tosses in Amy, a redhead with an agenda, along with Jason Miller, an ecology activist, with an even darker agenda of his own. There is even a mysterious white haired man whose true identity is wisely kept until the final page.

In deference to scrumptious Southern cooking, Benton Frank even had the good sense to throw in a few recipes which figure prominently in her book.

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