LOW COUNTRY by Anne Rivers Siddons


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Familiar ground for the prolific Siddons (Up Island, 1997, etc.), though her latest saga of the South replaces gothic melodrama with well-honed emotion. Narrated by Caro, independent-minded but burdened by sorrow after the death of her daughter, the story begins with this melancholy mother’s retreat to “the island.” Hugging the South Carolina coast, the small marsh isle is part of Caro’s inheritance and heritage; staying in her grandfather’s house, she goes to paint and ease her sadness. Amid evocative description of the island’s lowlands, the sound of wild ponies, and visions of untouched woods, the plot takes shape: Caro’s husband Clay, a successful land developer, has put his sights on her island, a prime piece of real estate. Unbeknownst to Caro, her husband’s empire is on the verge of financial ruin, and only a new housing development can save his existing ventures--everything they have built together in their long marriage. Moreover, the development of the island risks not only a natural habitat and Caro’s solitude but also one of America’s few intact Gullah communities, which Clay’s company hopes to turn into a theme park. Having known the community her whole life, and appreciating the resilience and wisdom of ancient conjure woman Auntie Tuesday and other locals, Caro is ravaged by the idea of seeing them posing for tourist photographs. Poised to help save both Caro’s island and Caro herself is Lou Cassells, a tropical botanist recently hired by Clay, but really a mole trying to preserve the island. With him is his orphaned granddaughter Lita, whose vibrant presence forces Caro to confront the ghost of her daughter. Gradually, Caro begins to wake from the resigned sleep she’s been living in and fight for her land--which also means fighting against her much loved husband and son’s future. A delicate, compelling tale, full of real feeling and lush description. A treat for Siddons fans. ($250,000 ad/promo; radio, TV & print satellite tour)

Pub Date: July 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-06-017616-4
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1998


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