Welcome to my stop on the By Invitaton Only blog tour sponsored by TLC Book Tours! Thanks to TLC for the invitation!
I was living in South Carolina when Sullivan’s Island was published, and I vividly remember purchasing it at a bookstore in Charleston, not far from Sullivan’s Island. I loved Dorothea Benton Frank’s storytelling and her use of the South Carolina Lowcountry as a backdrop for her stories. How happy was I when she did several more installments of the Lowcountry tales?
In By Invitation Only, Frank takes us back to the beloved Lowcountry, this time to remote Johns Island. Well, to be exact, the settings include a South Carolina peach farm and a high society area of Chicago.
Diane and Susan’s children are marrying each other, and they could not be from more different worlds. There’s a culture clash between the two and some fun and zany happenings here and there, too.
I liked that while Fred and Shelby are the ones getting married, the story was much more about Diane and Susan. They meet for the first time at an engagement party in South Carolina. The party is a barbecue dinner, and this is where the two mothers have their first misunderstandings.
By Invitation Only contains Dorothea Benton Frank’s signature charming characters. It was such an easy read, perfect for summer and the beach, and it had an emotional punch, too, especially at the end. I loved the setting of the peach farm, and Diane was such a wonderful, endearing character and mom. Overall, this was a fun escape of a read and true-to-form for this special author!
I received a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.
• Paperback: 432 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (April 23, 2019)
The Lowcountry of South Carolina is where By Invitation Only begins at a barbecue engagement party thrown by Diane English Stiftel, her brother Floyd, and her parents to celebrate her son’s engagement. On this gorgeous, magical night, the bride’s father, Alejandro Cambria, a wealthy power broker whose unbelievably successful career in private equity made him one of Chicago’s celebrated elite, discovers the limits and possibilities of cell phone range. While the mother of the bride, Susan Kennedy Cambria, who dabbles in the world of public relations and believes herself deserving of every square inch of her multimillion-dollar penthouse and imaginary carrara marble pedestal, learns about moonshine and dangerous liaisons.
Soon By Invitation Only zooms to Chicago, where the unraveling accelerates. Nearly a thousand miles away from her comfortable, familiar world, Diane is the antithesis of the bright lights and super-sophisticated guests attending her son Fred’s second engagement party. Why a second party? Maybe it had been assumed that the first one wouldn’t be up to snuff? Fred is marrying Shelby Cambria, also an only child. The Cambrias’ dearest wish is for their daughter to be happy. If Shelby wants to marry Frederick, aka Fred, they will not stand in her way—although Susan does hope her friends won’t think her daughter is marrying more than a few degrees beneath her socially. At the same time, Diane worries that her son will be lost to her forever.
By Invitation Only is a tale of two families, one struggling to do well, one well to do, and one young couple—the privileged daughter of Chicago’s crème de la crème and the son of hard -working Southern peach farmers.
Dorothea Benton Frank offers a funny, sharp, and deeply empathetic novel of two very different worlds—of limousines and pickup trucks, caviars and pigs, skyscrapers and ocean spray—filled with a delightful cast of characters who all have something to hide and a lot to learn. A difference in legal opinions, a headlong dive from grace, and an abrupt twist will reveal the truth of who they are and demonstrate, when it truly counts, what kind of grit they have. Are they living the life they want, what regrets do they hold, and how would they remake their lives if they were given the invitation to do so?
By Invitation Only is classic Dorothea Benton Frank—a mesmerizing Lowcountry Tale that roars with spirit, humor, and truth, and forces us to reconsider our notions of what it means to be a Have or a Have Not.
About Dorothea Benton Frank
New York Times bestselling author Dorothea Benton Frank was born and raised on Sullivans Island, South Carolina. She resides in the New York area with her husband.