Thursday, September 12, 2019

Anne Rivers Siddons and Dorothea Benton Frank

Two women who will be missed.

I don't really remember how I came to hear about a new author by the name of Dorothea Benton Frank.  Probably by browsing through one of our local bookstores when I was living in Atlanta.  

But I surely do remember how pleased and tickled I was to have made the discovery with every word I read in SULLIVAN'S ISLAND, and already, by the end of the book, impatient for her next.

She, with that one book, became one of the authors on my "Auto-Buy List."  And she never left.

I have all of Ms. Frank's books, have re-read several of them, and will do so again (and probably yet again).

Some are in paperback because that's how she was first published, some are in hardback, and some are on my Kindle.  Sadly, only one is autographed.

When I learned Ms. Frank was going to be doing a book signing in Charleston, I asked Donald how he felt about a road trip.  Charleston being one of our favorite places - no problem!

So. we planned a week's trip completely around Dorothea Benton Frank's book signing for PAWLEY'S ISLAND (2005). 

This was very early days in her career and the signing was done in a hotel lobby, at the door of a bookstore. 

There were, maybe, 20 of us in line. 

No seating. 

MUCH different from the more recent signings. 

I don't recall the name of the hotel or the bookstore. But I do remember how excited I was to meet the author who was writing some books I was over the moon about. 

RIP Ms. Frank.  Thank you for your stories.

In keeping with who she was, a huge personality rejoicing in life and family and friends, there will be a memorial service in celebration of her life.  

All are welcome. 

Sadly, we will not be there, but I have a feeling Ms. Frank will be looking down from heaven and feeling right proud to have a crowd of so many coming to say good-bye.

And then there's Anne Rivers Siddons.

Oh, my.

Anne Rivers Siddons.

There will never be another.

I idolized this woman.

I remember being in a bookstore in downtown Atlanta and being drawn to a display that caught my eye.

How could I pass this up?!

I went home that night and read till the last page.

I do not exaggerate when I say this book found its home in my heart.

It was, and remains, one of the most important books of my life.

Atlanta, back then, was the place I was meant to be.  

It was a life I loved living.  

Like Ms. Siddons, my feelings about Atlanta changed.  And, like Ms. Siddons, I left.

PEACHTREE ROAD was the first I knew of Anne Rivers Siddons.  After reading it I quickly began the hunt for her earlier work, and then, of course, snatched up each new book as quickly as they hit the shelves.

But whenever I want to revisit the real (to me) Atlanta, I pick up PEACHTREE ROAD and DOWNTOWN.

DOWNTOWN is another book that lives in my heart, and could only have been written by Anne Rivers Siddons.

I was lucky enough to say this to her at a book signing.  But, oh my, I had so much else I wish I had been able to say. 

But these were the days before book conventions where you get to meet your favorite authors and might be lucky enough to hang out with them in the bar, and maybe, if you're really lucky, over time, be able to call them "friend."

So, sadly, I can only say I met her once.  Never able to sit down in conversation, never able to say "she was a friend of mine."

But I will always have her words close by.

I have her stories in the books she wrote.

And I have every one.

Many signed first editions.

Some personalized.

All cherished.

Since I love every word she's written, it would be impossible to choose a favorite.

But because  I was living in Atlanta during the time frame of PEACHTREE ROAD and DOWNTOWN, those two books resonated when I read them, and continue to do so with each re-reading.  

They are truly timeless.  

Classics, in my opinion. 

She wrote about the south as only a real southern woman could, with beautiful pacing and phrasing, creating a world we all wanted to inhabit.  

RIP Ms. Siddons.  Thank you.

I'm so, so sad that there will be no more books from these women.

They may have fallen into the category of "Beach Reading," "Women's Fiction," "Southern Lit."  Whatever.

They touched people.

In very different ways, but they did both touch people.

Both these women possessed a keen level of observation into people.

And they generously shared those observations, written in their own inimitable way, with us.

Their writing was very different, but they both were able to share their south, warts and all, in a way that we will remember and cherish.

They did it with honesty and respect.

My world seems smaller knowing they're no longer sharing it.  

But, we'll always have their words.


Pamela A said...

Your blog is one that I consistenly read. Thanks for sharing the books and places you enjoy. And the great photos!

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Thanks so much for this, Pamela, it means a lot.