Dorothea Benton Frank - Plantation: A Lowcountry Tale

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Is "Yanh' even in Webster's dictionary?

Aug 20, 2001
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:believable storyline, interesting,

Cons:some words are hard to intepret

The Bottom Line: True Southern Grit, Charm and Entertainment.


Since school has started, my library days are not quite as plentiful as in the summer months. So on a recent trip to the grocery, I searched the book aisle for something good to read. I found it.

Plantation.

The Beginning

We meet Caroline. The chapters here are written by her. She is a very successful interior decorater living in New York City. She is married to a shrink, Richard, and has one son, Eric. It is obvious that her marriage to Richard lacks something to be desired. Nevertheless, she chooses to remain married to Richard and has her 'blinders' on to what is really happening.

For example, about 2 weeks before Eric's birth, Richard had to go to London for a business meeting and had no qualms whatsoever of leaving his very pregnant wife at this stage in her preganancy. True to form, Caroline delivers while he is away. When she calls his hotel room, the phone is answered my Richard's ex wife. Caroline slams the phone down and in her refusal to 'do' anything about the situation, does not even mention this to Richard when he returns. Because it will make him angry and he will just blame it on her anyway.

Richard is also not the perfect dad to Eric.Richard does have another son by his first wife, and it is this child that Richard lavishes all of his attentions on. He barely notices Eric.

In this sense, Caroline has been on her own with Eric emotionally longer than she cares to admit.

The Middle

Enter brother to Caroline, Trip. Trip has called Caroline to tell her that their mother, Miss Lavinia is losing her marbles and needs to be placed in a nursing home. He also accuses Ms. Lavinia of 'sleeping' with every available male in the lowcountry.

Caroline flies home alone the first time and finds out more about the family secrets than she cared to know. There is a major fight between Caroline and her sister-in-law, due to the fact that the in-law wants to move Ms. Lavinia out of the plantation home so that she can move in.

When Caroline enters her old bedroom, she finds that the room is a virtual shrine. Left exactly in the same state it was when she lived there.

It is in the middle, that we also get to meet Millie. Millie is the housekeeper/cook etc for Miss Lavinia. Millie is a African American, as best I can tell. She is into voodoo, and some light witchcraft, but she takes really good care of Miss Lavinia and has been in the family for years.

Trip has his own set of problems. He continues to borrow large amounts of cash from his mother, and we do not know why. He continues to father children without the room nor means, it seems, to take care of them and does not even seem to love them at times. He is an alcoholic.

The End

Near the ending, Caroline finally decides to leave Richard and take Eric home to the Plantation. It is at this time that we begin to see Caroline evolve both as a woman and a daughter. She and her mother become very close and the longer that Caroline stays at the plantation, the more at home she feels there.

There is some backtracking here also. We get to learn how both Caroline and Trip were present when their daddy died. How both children felt neglected and unwanted when their mother began grieving in her own way over losing her husband at such a young age.

It is at this time, that we see Caroline begin learning about herself and her mother by facing the demons of the past and moving forward with her life. She soon finds she is not so different from her mother after all.

In Conclusion

In conclusion, I found this a wonderful page turner. It has lots of Southern flair. The word "Yanh" is used throughout the book and replaces other English words. Sometimes you have to re-read a sentence to figure out what is being said.

The book does flip in the story telling between Ms Lavinia and Caroline telling the story which makes the book more interesting because we can see what both of them are thinking at the same time.

The family is extremely wealthy, Ms Caroline was off to boarding schools at the tender age of 14. But despite the wealth, the storyline is very true to most women. Caroline's fear of becoming like her mother.

The typical mother/daughter syndrome, in which the two can not get along. Each a little right and each a little wrong.

I paid $5.99 for this book at Winn Dixie.


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