Valerie B. (Westfield, IN)
I think I understand what Dorthea Benton Frank was attempting to do with her newest novel, "Folly Beach: a lowcountry tale"; she was attempting to connect with the in vogue "horror" movement by having Dorothy Heyward come out of her grave to recount her life in every other chapter. If not, then I completely lost the idea she was going for. The present-day story of Cate--the unfortunate wife of a Bernie Madoff-like husband--could stand alone and it got to the point that I skipped the historical chapters and read only Cate's story.
If Ms Frank had tried to connect past with present in the form of a diary Cate finds in her girlhood home, then I think it would have been a much smoother plot.
Elisabeth, Durham, NC; Durham Library Foundation
Every Detail Wrapped Up With A Bow
I usually read literary fiction, but must say that I enjoyed Folly Beach. The dialogue between the sisters was wonderful with all their "completed for the other" sentences, shared references and verbal eye rolling. I found Frank's play within the book annoying but understood why she used this technique. My main criticism is the extravagant exaggeration of events in the beginning and the improbable convenience throughout, both of which take some serious willing suspension of disbelief. Frank leaves no loose ends dangling which many readers will find satisfying. Overall, a fun read!
Kimberli M. (Jessup, MD)
A Good Read
I enjoyed reading this book. It had a good storyline and well developed characters. It was a little slow at times, but I still enjoyed it. The author provided a story where the reader could really see the characters grow over time. The story is about new beginnings and discovering who you are and is something everyone can relate to.
Karen H. (Auburn, MA)
beach read meets historical fiction
The story sucked me in (to a degree) from two different angles. The saga of Cate's life falling apart and needing to start over is what drew me in as the summer read I was craving. It was light-hearted, dramatic enough to keep me interested, and it featured some fun characters (her love-to-hate daughter-in-law and her quirky aunt). Prior to reading the book, I was not familiar with Porgy and Bess--not at all actually. I felt I was kind of clued in to why it's considered an important play, because Cate brought it up several times, but it still didn't interest me fully. Something a little more along the lines of "mainstream" history would be better, so I could feel a little more connection to it and better appreciate its significance. I, for one, enjoyed the back and forth with the "flashbacks", because it at least tied Dottie and DuBois into the story. The end was disappointing and cheesey.
Teresa H. (Mechanicsville, VA)
Loved the History but
I received a copy of Folly Beach to review. I had never read anything by Dorothea Benton Frank before but was familiar with her Lowcountry Tales series.
When the book began I had a difficult time following the story line since it jumps back and forth between scenes from a play set during the Charleston Renaissance and the present. Once I got the hang of that I enjoyed the story. I was totally unfamiliar with the Charleston Renaissance and learned quite a bit about that time which I enjoyed. I will certainly look into the history of the Charleston Renaissance before my next trip there.
The present day story opens at the funeral of Cate’s husband. As details of their relationship are revealed it became apparent this was not a great relationship and her husband had been hiding a lot from his family. I found her total lack of awareness a bit unbelievable but soon grew to like her. The story was decent and overall I enjoyed the book mostly because of the history more than the story itself.
Roni S. (Pittsburgh, PA)
I have never read a Dorothea Benton Frank book. I enjoyed “Folly Beach.” It is written juxtaposing a play within the novel. The novel is modern day and the play is in the twenties. One learns history about Porgy, the author Dubose Heyward, and how the story became Porgy and Bess.
I did find some of the conversational language trite.
Anyone who enjoys Ann River Siddons, Pat Conroy or “low country” books would like this book. Family relationships and romance make this a fun and educational read.
Kat F. (Palatine, IL)
I've read most of Benton Frank's books and absolutely love this beautiful part of the country, so I was excited when I received this book. Then I started reading. I don't care for reading "plays" although that part isn't really much of a play. I don't like going back and forth between time periods, so that was a little annoying. Finally, the timeline seemed a little rushed and unbelievable to me, given the dire circumstances that bring Cate back to Folly Beach. I really would have liked to have gotten to know the interesting, entertaining and quirky character's stories better. It's an entertaining beach book; not too deep or thought provoking. But, brought me back to a part of the country I love and made me remember and wish I was back there right this minute.