Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Porch Lights-Dorothea Benton Frank

Porch Lights

Dorothea Benton Frank

Morrow, Jun 12 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9780061961298

With the death of her firefighter husband Jimmy in a blaze, army nurse Jackie McMullen returns home to Brooklyn from Afghanistan for the funeral and being there for their ten year old son Charlie. Her father Buster did not attend the funeral because her mother “Glan” who did is estranged from him. Buster visits his daughter and grandson and realizes they are in trouble. Charlie tells his mom the house is creepy without his dad. Jackie drives them to her mom’s home on Sullivan Island in South Carolina.

Glan welcomes them as she is elated to have them staying with her. When Charlie cries as he listens to his dad talk on voice mail, knowing they hurt, Glan plans to keep them occupied. She introduces her family to her new neighbor widower Dr. Steven Ploffer and his two dogs. Jackie notices her mom is attracted to the younger man who seems interested in her instead though the widow has no plans of reciprocating his feelings. Steven hires Charlie to walk his dogs. Glan offers Jackie rooms at her house, but her daughter plans to accept a job at the VA hospital in Brooklyn. Buster arrives and is great with Charlie who insists he wants to stay here. As a storm hits, Charlie runs away.

This is a warm tale of healing as the solid ensemble cast each grieves in their own way. The rotating perspective between the grandmother and her daughter deftly enhances the relationship family drama. Although there is no action until late and we never learn why Buster left his wife years ago, fans will enjoy returning to Dorothea Benton Frank’s Lowcountry (see Folly Beach and Sullivan’s Island).

Harriet Klausner

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