QUESTIONS AND TOPICS FOR DISCUSSION
Sullivan’s Island is a real place, a barrier island seven miles off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina. Home to Fort Moultrie, which is known for its role in the American Revolution and the Civil War, it is also called the “Ellis Island of Slavery” as over 200,000 slaves from the west coast of Africa entered our country on its shores between 1770 and 1775. As a young soldier, Edgar Allen Poe was stationed at Fort Moultrie and wrote The Gold Bug during that time. It is said the island is a haunted place, populated with the ghosts of broken hearts and lives of untold courage.
Dorothea Benton Frank’s first novel, Sullivan’s Island combines the stories of love and family with history and place. Set in 1963 and in 1999, it compares and contrasts coming of age in the tumultuous early sixties to coming of age in the peace of the early nineties. It introduces the Gullah Culture to many people for the first time and explains its significance in forming the traditions and values of the island children, which they carry into their adult lives. Sullivan’s Island looks at the rigors of Catholicism during the early sixties, shattered childhood innocence, betrayal and revenge and the magic of Lowcountry life.
The protagonist, Susan Hamilton Hayes is in her early forties when we meet her. She is the wife of Tom, a prominent Charleston attorney and the mother of their daughter, Beth. In the prologue, we watch her life implode and then watch and learn how she puts it back together with great humor and pure grit.
We travel back with her to revisit the bitter disappointments of her childhood until she discovers decades later that those juvenile conundrums and challenges gave her the strength to face her adult years. And, most of those lessons were taught to her by Livvie Singleton, an African American woman, descended from slavery.
The Lowcountry itself as important as any character in Sullivan’s Island, because its rich history and great beauty teach all the characters who they are and where they belong on the planet. Perhaps most importantly, the Lowcountry and the night sky ofSullivan’s Island guide the characters to connect with the spiritual side of life and show them that love never dies.
ABOUT DOROTHEA BENTON FRANK
Dorothea Benton Frank grew up on Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina and is the author of three NY Timesbestselling novels—Sullivan’s Island (Jove 2000), Plantation (Jove 2001) and Isle of Palms (Berkley 2003). All of her Lowcountry Tales feature a powerful sense of place and strong female characters who tackle life with a healthy sense of humor. Pat Conroy hailed Sullivan’s Island as hilarious and wise and Anne Rivers Siddons said it roars with life.
She has been a member of the NJ State Council on the Arts and the Drumthwachet Foundation, both appointments made by the Governor of NJ and currently serves as a member of the NJ Cultural Trust. In addition, she is a trustee of the Montclair Art Museum in Montclair, NJ, the Margaret Mitchell House in Atlanta GA and a member of Writers for Readers, a group that sponsors Literacy Partners in New York. A long time supporter of the arts and education, Ms. Frank has also served on the boards of The American Stage Company, The NJ Chamber Music Society, The Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, The Community Foundation of NJ and others.
She is married to Peter Frank, the mother of two teenagers and they divide their time between South Carolina and the New York area. She invites readers to visit her web site at www.dotfrank.com.
Praise for the novels of Dorothea Benton Frank:
“Her books are funny, sexy, and usually DAMP WITH SEA WATER.”—Pat Conroy
“ONE HECK OF A BEACH BOOK…Frank keeps you reading compulsively.”—Charlotte Observer
“BLAZINGLY AUTHENTIC…A rich read.”—Publishers Weekly
“Sullivan’s Island ROARS WITH LIFE.”—Anne Rivers Siddons