NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER!
In this warm and moving anthology, a group of bestselling authors and writers pay tribute to legendary, larger-than-life New York Times bestselling author Dorothea Benton Frank and her literary legacy.
Inspired by the title Dorothea Benton Frank planned for her next book—Reunion Beach—these close friends and colleagues channeled their creativity, admiration, and grief into stories and poems that celebrate this remarkable woman and her abiding love for the Lowcountry of her native South Carolina—a land of beauty, history, charm, and Gullah magic she so brilliantly brought to life in her acclaimed novels.
From Elin Hilderbrand, #1 New York Times bestselling author, a sequel to Summer of ’69.
From Adriana Trigiani, New York Times bestselling author, comes a heartwarming, humorous interview from the hereafter with Pat Conroy and Dorothea Benton Frank, two beloved icons of Southern literature.
From Patti Callahan, bestselling author of Becoming Mrs. Lewis and Surviving Savannah, comes The Bridemaids, a story about a trip to the South Carolina beach.
From Mary Alice Monroe, New York Times bestselling author, Mother and Child Reunion, a heartwarming story set under the warm South Carolina sun.
Reunion Beach also features letters, short stories, poems, and essays from:
- Mary Norris, New York Times bestselling author and staff writer for The New Yorker
- Cassandra King Conroy, bestselling and award-winning author of Tell Me A Story
- Nathalie Dupree, James Beard Award-winning cookbook author
- Marjory Wentworth, former Poet Laureate of South Carolina
- Gervais Hagerty, author of In Polite Company
- Jacqueline Bouvier Lee, Peter Frank, Victoria Peluso, and William Frank
Infused with Dorothea Benton Frank’s remarkable spirit, Reunion Beach is a literary homage and beautiful keepsake that keeps this dearly missed writer’s flame burning bright.
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About the Author
Elin Hilderbrand lives on Nantucket, has three children and is the author of 27 novels, including SUMMER OF ‘69.
Elin met Dottie in the spring of 2017 at the annual Post & Courier luncheon in Charleston and Elin says, “It was love at first sight.” The two authors proceeded to meet on Nantucket every chance they got and they texted and emailed non-stop. They dreamed of doing a joint cooking show called “Cook the Books,” where they would invite a third author on to make a signature dish for each episode. They also talked about a cookbook called “The Southern Belle and the Gray Lady.” Elin’s summer of 2020 novel, 28 Summers, is dedicated to Dottie and Dottie makes a cameo appearance in Elin’s summer of 2021 novel, Golden Girl. “I will never again have a writer friend like Dottie,” Elin says. “Those of you who knew her understand what I mean, and those of you who didn’t will just have to trust me. They broke the mold.”
Beloved by millions of readers around the world for her "dazzling" novels (USA Today), Adriana Trigiani is “a master of palpable and visual detail” (Washington Post) and “a comedy writer with a heart of gold” (New York Times). She is the New York Times bestselling author of twenty books of fiction and nonfiction, including her latest, The Good Left Undone- an instant New York Times best seller, Book of the Month pick and People’s Book of the Week. Her work is published in 38 languages around the world. An award-winning playwright, television writer/producer and filmmaker, Adriana’s screen credits include writer/director of the major motion picture of her debut novel, Big Stone Gap, the adaptation of her novel Very Valentine and director of Then Came You. Adriana grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia where she co-founded The Origin Project, an in-school writing program serving over 1,700 students in Appalachia. She is at work on her next novel for Dutton at Penguin Random House.
Follow Adriana on Facebook and Instagram @AdrianaTrigiani and on TikTok @AdrianaTrigianiAuthor or visit her website: AdrianaTrigiani.com.
Join Adriana’s Facebook LIVE show, Adriana Ink, in conversation with the world’s greatest authors- Tuesdays at 3 PM EST! For more from Adriana’s interviews, you can subscribe to her Meta “Bulletin” column, Adriana Spills the Ink: adrianatrigiani.bulletin.com/subscribe.
Patti Callahan is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of fifteen novels including the Historical Fiction, Becoming Mrs. Lewis—The Improbable Love Story of Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis and Surviving Savannah. In addition, she is the recipient of The Harper Lee Distinguished Writer of the Year for 2020 and the Alabama Library Association Book of the Year for 2019 and The Christy Award—A 2019 Winner "Book of the Year.” The author is also the host of the popular seven-part original "Behind the Scenes of Becoming Mrs. Lewis Podcast Series”. Patti is also the Co-creator and co-host of the weekly web show and podcast Friends & Fiction.
Patti and Dottie met when Patti’s first book was released in 2004 at a SIBA conference where the friendship was instant and long lasting.
Cassandra King is an award-winning author of five bestselling novels and two nonfiction books in addition to numerous short stories, essays, and magazine articles. Her latest book, Tell Me A Story, a memoir about life with her late husband, Pat Conroy, was named SIBA’s 2020 non-fiction Book of the Year. A native of LA (Lower Alabama), Cassandra resides in Beaufort, South Carolina, where she is honorary chair of the Pat Conroy Literary Center.
When Pat gave Dottie Frank a blurb for her first book, Sullivan’s Island, Cassandra invited Dottie for a visit to Fripp Island, and the Conroys and Franks became fast friends.
Nathalie Dupree is the author of fourteen cookbooks. She is best known for her approachability and her understanding of Southern cooking, having started the New Southern Cooking movement now found in many restaurants throughout the United States, and co-authoring Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking.
Nathalie, as she is known to her fans, has won wide recognition for her work, including four James Beard Awards and numerous others. She was also founding Chairman of the Charleston Wine and Food Festival, a founding member of many culinary organizations including the prestigious Southern Foodways and the International Association of Culinary Professionals.
She is married to author Jack Bass and lives in Charleston, SC. She travels extensively, lecturing and teaching.
Marjory Wentworth is the New York Times bestselling author of Out of Wonder, Poems Celebrating Poets (with Kwame Alexander and Chris Colderley) and many other works and poems. Her poems have been nominated for The Pushcart Prize six times. She is the current poet laureate of South Carolina. Wentworth serves on the Board of Advisors at The Global Social Justice Practice Academy, and she is a 2020 National Coalition Against Censorship Free Speech is for Me Advocate. She teaches courses in writing, social justice, and banned books at The College of Charleston.
Marjory first met Dottie in the early 2000s at a party; the next evening Dottie showed up at her door with a bottle wine and Marjory’s first book of poems and asked her if she could include one of her poems in the front of her forthcoming novel, Plantation. Their mutual love of the South Carolina low country bonded them, and their friendship was immediate. Both women were married to men named Peter; even their children were the same ages, and they remain friends to this day. Sometimes friends become family, and it doesn’t get better than that.
Mary Alice Monroe is the New York Times bestselling author of 27 books including her newest novel The Summer of Lost and Found (May 2021, Gallery Books), and her first Middle Grade book The Islanders (June 2021, Aladdin Books).
Monroe’s books have been published worldwide. She’s earned numerous accolades and awards, including: Induction into the South Carolina Academy of Authors’ Hall of Fame; Southwest Florida Author of Distinction Award; South Carolina Award for Literary Excellence; RT Lifetime Achievement Award; the International Book Award for Green Fiction, and the prestigious Southern Book Prize for Fiction. Her bestselling novel The Beach House is a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie.
Mary Alice Monroe is also the co-creator and co-host of the weekly webshow and podcast Friends and Fiction.
Monroe found her true calling in environmental fiction when she moved to the Isle of Palms, South Carolina. Captivated by the beauty and fragility of her new home in the lowcountry, Monroe’s experiences gave her a strong and important focus for her novels.
Monroe and Dorothea Benton Frank were lowcountry neighbors. Dottie--as she was called among friends-- lived across the inlet from Isle of Palms on the neighboring Sullivan’s Island. Together they became part of a small tribe of Lowcountry writers who gathered together over the years for meals and conversation supporting each other’s careers and personal lives. Dottie’s energy and spirit will be forever missed.
Victoria Benton Frank was born in New York City, raised in Montclair, New Jersey, but considers herself to have dual residency in the Lowcountry. She is a graduate of the College of Charleston and the French Culinary Institute. Victoria worked in restaurants in New York before returning to Charleston, South Carolina, which she considers home, with her husband, two kids, and a giant mutt. When she isn’t writing, she is reading, cooking, or chasing her children.
Table of Contents
A Letter from the Editor Carrie Feron ix
Peter's Speech at the Celebration of Life for Dottie Frank xiii
Introduction Victoria Benton Frank xv
"Bridesmaids" Patti Callahan 1
1 The Answer 3
2 The Other Proposal 11
3 The House 17
4 The Moon 37
5 The Next Day 41
6 The Last Night 47
Epilogue: What Happens Next 55
"Summer of '79" by Elin Hilderbrand 63
1 Hot Child in the City 65
2 Baby, What a Big Surprise 72
3 Sad Eyes 85
4 Heart of Glass 91
5 Night Fever 98
6 Paradise by the Dashboard Light 101
7 Life in the Fast Lane 105
8 Looks Like We Made It 109
9 Reunited 111
10 We Are Family 117
"Postcards from Heaven" Adriana Trigiani 123
In Memoriam 167
"Mother and Child Reunion" Mary Alice Monroe 171
1 Mother 175
2 Daughter 188
3 Reunion 211
"Lowcountry Stew" Cassandra King Conroy 227
"Dottle and Me" Mary Norris 283
"Making of a Friendship" Jacqueline Bouvier Lee 291
"Dottie: The Sparkling Comet" Gervais Hagerty 297
Essay and Poetry by Marjory Wentworth 303
Essays and Recipes Nathalie Dupree 321
How I Got to France 326
Soufflé Omelet with Fraises des Bois 332
Majorcan Snails 339
How I Got Started 342
Lynn Benton Bagnal's Pound Cake 352
Essays Dorothea Benton Frank 359
Dorothea Benton Frank's Letter to Her Readers I 361
Dorothea Benton Frank's Letter to Her Readers II 368
Dorothea Benton Frank's Letter to Her Readers III 378
Afterword William Frank 389
Photograph Credits 395