Welcome to the TLC Book Tour for Folly Beach
Cathryn (“Cate”) Mahon Cooper has had a series of very bad days. A few days ago, Cate’s husband of twenty-six years, Addison, took his own life. At his funeral, she learned that Addison had numerous affairs, including one that produced a young son, and mismanaged all of their assets. Her vehicles and all of her furniture and furnishings have been repossessed — even the contents of the wine cellar — and the sheriff has given her forty-eight hours to vacate her home following foreclosure by the bank. Addison’s firm is bankrupt, as are his partners. She has only twenty thousand dollars in cash that she has saved over the years and no employment prospects.
Fortunately, Cate’s Aunt Daisy and her life partner, Ella, who raised her and her sister, Patti, after their parents’ deaths, is ready to welcome her back home to Folly Beach, near Charleston, South Carolina. Daisy and Ella are getting older, and Daisy needs assistance running her vacation home rental business. In fact, one of Daisy’s homes, affectionately known as the Porgy House, is available for Cate to move into immediately. It is full of mementos from the days when Dorothy and DuBose Heyward lived there and collaborated with George Gershwin on Porgy and Bess.
So Cate sets off for Folly Beach in the modest used vehicle she purchased, unsure whether she will remain there permanently or return to New Jersey. Folly Beach and her Aunt Daisy’s unconditional love and support promise respite and a safe harbor where Cate can relax, put the unfortunate recent events behind her, and decide how she wants to spend the second half of her life.
Author Dorothea Benton Frank has elevated what could have been an ordinary romance to an enchanting tale that alternates between the present and the 1930’s when George Gershwin was the toast of both Broadway and Hollywood, and Porgy and Bess became a controversial Broadway flop. Main character Cate Cooper becomes fascinated with the Heywards when she takes up residence in the Porgy House. She begins studying their lives as she sets about healing from the devastating end of her marriage and discovery of Addison’s multiple betrayals. In particular, Dorothy Heyward becomes the focus of Cate’s research. Was she just the woman behind the successful man? Or did Dorothy Heyward play a larger part in the creation of an inarguably classic musical, but ensure that all credit was given to her beloved husband, DuBose?
Folly Beach opens with the first act of a play entitled Folly Beach: A One-Woman Show with Images, purportedly drafted by Cate. Successive acts alternate with Cate’s first-person narrative. It is an original and highly effective literary technique. As Dorothy tells her story, so does Cate. And, of course, like Dorothy, Cate finds romance — with the handsome creative writing professor, John Risley, who has also survived heartbreak and disappointment. In fact, John is already a Heyward aficionado and encourages not only Cate’s delving into the mysteries surrounding the couple, but also urges her to try her hand at being a playwright.
Frank envelopes Cate with eccentric but endearing supporting characters. Aunt Daisy and Ella are a couple of Bickersons, but they have been together for decades. Their devotion to each other is tested and proves sturdy. Cate’s son, Russ, and daughter, Sara, react quite differently to their father’s death and the revelations about his life and his professional downfall, but both love their mother and must overcome their own emotional turmoil in order to support Cate as she forges a new life for herself. Luckily, she has an unwavering ally in her older sister, Patti.
Each character is so well imagined and described that they practically come to life. Cate is a sympathetic and believable victim of the difficult economic times we have all endured. Her fiftieth birthday is not many years away but, as the story begins, she is losing everything — her husband, home, financial security — and has no idea how to begin putting her life in order. But she is also likable because she has no interest in being a victim for long. There are some plot points that require the reader to suspend his/her disbelief — things fall into place for Cate a bit too readily, in some aspects. But Frank is easily forgiven because readers will find themselves cheering Cate on, especially with regard to her relationship with John and its surprising parallels to Dorothy and DuBose.
This was my first experience reading Frank’s work, but it won’t be my last. Folly Beach amply demonstrates why she is a New York Times bestselling author, beloved by her large following of loyal readers. Folly Beach is charming, witty, and frequently hilarious. Frank will convince you, through the adventures of Cate Cooper, that you really can go home again, and reinvent yourself and your life there. Throw it into your tote and take it with you to the pool or beach. It is a perfect book with which to wile away a little time in the sun . . . even if you can’t be at the enticing Folly Beach yourself.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one copy of Folly Beach free of charge from the author in conjunction with the TLC Book Tours review and virtual book tour program. I was not required to write a positive review in exchange for receipt of the book; rather, the opinions expressed in this review are my own. This disclosure complies with 16 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 255, “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Enter to Win a Copy of Folly Beach
One lucky reader, selected at random, will receive a copy of Folly Beach, graciously provided by the author.
To enter, simply post a comment stating the name of your favorite Gershwin tune! If you aren’t familiar with the works of George Gershwin — or, like me, simply can’t pick just one favorite — simply state what aspect of my review most makes you want to read the book! Be sure to include your email address (for notification and delivery purposes). The book can only be shipped to a United States or Canadian address (no P.O. box).