THE CHRISTMAS PEARL
BY DOROTHEA BENTON FRANK
Still spry at ninety-three, Theodora has lived long enough to see her family grow into an insufferable bunch of truculent knuckleheads. Having finally gathered the whole bickering brood together for the holidays at her South Carolina home, the grand matriarch pines wistfully for those extravagant, homey Christmases of her childhood. How she misses the tables groaning with home-cooked goodies, the over-the-top decorations, those long, lovely fireside chats with Pearl, her grandmother's beloved housekeeper and closest confidante. These days, where is the love and the joy . . . and the peace?
But this is, after all, a magical time. Someone very special has heard Theodora's plea—and is about to arrive at her door with pockets full of Gullah magic and enough common sense to transform this Christmas into the miracle it's truly meant to be.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Dorothea Benton Frank is the New York Times bestselling author of Bulls Island (William Morrow, 2008), The Christmas Pearl (William Morrow 2007), The Land of Mango Sunsets (William Morrow 2007), Full of Grace (William Morrow 2006), Pawleys Island (Berkley 2005), Shem Creek (Berkley 2004), Isle of Palms (Berkley 2003), Plantation (Jove 2001), and Sullivan's Island (Jove 2000). Her newest book, Return to Sullivans Island, will be released by William Morrow June 30, 2009.
Ms. Frank has appeared on NBC's Today show, Parker Ladd's Book Talk, and many local network-affiliated television stations. She is a frequent speaker on creative writing and the creative process for students of all ages and in private venues, such as the National Arts Club, the Junior League of New York, Friends of the Library, and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. She has also been a guest speaker at the South Carolina Book Festival; Novello, North Carolina's Festival of Books; and the Book and Author annual event in Charleston, South Carolina, sponsored by the Post & Courier.
Before she began her writing career, Ms. Frank was involved extensively in the arts and education, and in raising awareness and funding for various nonprofits in New Jersey and New York. At the present time she serves on the boards of The South Carolina Historical Society and The South Carolina Coastal Conservation League.
The author, who was born and raised on Sullivan's Island in South Carolina, currently divides her time between New Jersey and South Carolina.
Frank brings you back to the low-country in this short but nostalgic, sweet holiday story of family and what it means to be a part of one. Theodora, the main character, remembers when she was young and the home was in the loving hands of their housekeeper Pearl who made Christmas a magical family time. Theodora is in her 90's and although her bones are cracking, her brain is not. She wants so much for her whole family to come together as they did in the old days and enjoy Christmas and understand its true meaning. However, she knows this clan and all their new ideas and feelings about what is important in life and she sees it won't happen.
With a bit of holiday magic and good timing, the housekeeper has to leave and who should appear to help from...well?... she appears (with the help of some "Gullah"magic)and it is indeed Pearl! Pearl brings the house back to its old shine and glitter with the old family heirlooms and real Christmas tree...out with the fake glitter and glitz and in with the family Bible and homemade goodies to eat. Throw these two ol' gals together and their feisty souls can conjure up one homespun holiday for sure.
As Pearl leads the way to physically changing the home, they don't realize it but she also changes the people that are in it. Oh, yes, this can be a little predictable and maybe the characters aren't putting my brain into hyper drive to figure out their deep-seeded issues, but it is a wonderful bit of cheer just when we need it. Just right to sit down with and sip on some hot chocolate and put your feet up as it is a fast and fanciful read. You can't help but laugh and smile at some of the wondrous things that occur and if nothing else, you are left with a bunch of Pearl's favorite recipes at the end so you are drooling and up again to head to the kitchen to start working on some. She includes everything from she-crab soup and cheese straws, to a glazed and fruited ham with mint juleps to wash it down with. Enjoy the story and prepare something yummy for your family and perhaps some of that old Gullah magic will appear in your home for a while...in case you need it around now!
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