Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Shem Creek by Dorothea Benton Frank

I just visited Charleston last weekend for my cousin Chad’s wedding.  His sister, my cousin Candace, gave me a great book recommendation - Shem Creek by Dorothea Benton Frank to read during my journey for a good tale set in the low county.  To make matters even better, she had us all go out to eat at Red’s Ice House on Shem Creek while we were there – which was perfect for this book!.
I LOVED this book.  It was a great light hearted tale about a woman starting over.  Linda Breland is a single parent raising two teenage daughters.  After finding out her ex is getting remarried and having a hard time dealing with her youngest teenage daughter, Linda decides to move from New Jersey back to her hometown of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.  There she stays with her sister Mimi and gets a new job at Jackson’s Hole, a restaurant on Shem Creek.  Will Linda be able to make a new start?  Will she be able to keep her daughter under control?

Brad Jackson owns the restaurant and is looking for help running it.  He was an investment banker working lots of hours for his father in law, only to be turned out of the company on his ear when his wife Loretta left him for another man.  Starting over in Mount Pleasant, Brad is looking for a future and new start.

I loved that the point of view changed between Linda, Brad, and Linda’s hellion daughter Gracie.  I admit though that although I loved all of the great brilliant characters in this novel, there was a special place in my heart of Linda.  I loved her spunk, can do attitude and how she told it the way it is.  I loved the entire crew that worked at the restaurant and how they became a family.  That’s what good friends and community are – an extension of family.

I really liked the setting. Mount Pleasant South Carolina is like another character in this novel, vividly described in all of its beauty.

I was a little sad that a bad date in this novel was described like this, “Worse. He just moved here from North Carolina, where he got himself in trouble—almost—for being a political activist. Seems they’ve got some kind of problem with the runoff of hog waste from farms that’s trickling down to the Cape Fear River. You may not know this, but if you pile enough hog waste in the river, it can kill everything in its path.”  Apparently talking about hog waste and contamination is boring.  I laughed out loud at this.  As an environmental engineer, I have been known to carry on conversations about this!!

There were so MANY good quotes from this book.  Here are some of my favorites:

“What has happened to humanity is this. The world has become vicious, because the devil’s real name is greed. Our ability to justify our greed is staggering. If you believe what you read, see and hear around you, our children’s future will be all about heeding the call and joining the detestable clamor for money and power. It breaks your heart. “

“We had both been lonely, which next to poor health was the worst condition for the human heart.”

“Our family preferred not to speak of things that were uneasy to hear. We would hem and haw around them like a patch of green stickers in the grass and we were the barefoot children, unprepared for pain, unwilling to give pain a chance to teach us something.”

“Every adult understood that the future entered history with each passing minute and that time was relative. Teenagers felt they spent the better part of their time languishing in an unjust limbo.”

“I was coming undone. I knew it. I was close to screaming. No one understood the importance of my daughters to me. They were an extension of the very kernel of flickering light that kept me alive and wanting to live the days left to me. If anything were to happen to either one of them, my own life would have fallen into peril.”

“I still mourned the years I had wasted in a soulless existence of merely making ends meet and not celebrating the love of my daughters over something as simple as a bowl of breakfast cereal. I could not regain those years. They were gone, marked off the calendar of my days forever”

Overall, Shem’s Creek is a light hearted fun book with vivid unique characters and a wonderful setting.  I will definitely be reading more books by Dorothea Benton Frank.

Do you have any favorite books set in Charleston or South Carolina?

Book Source:  E-book Purchased from

1 comment:

  1. Shem Creek sounds like a wonderful book, Laura. Pleasant Day, a book I enjoyed a few years ago, is set in South Carolina. There is something extra special about Southern fiction.