Picks and Pans Review: Low Country
Anne Rivers Siddons's novels are women's stories in the best sense, pulling you into the internal landscape of her characters' lives and holding you there.
In Low Country, Caroline Venable is blessed with looks, land and a successful husband, but her world falls apart when her young daughter dies in a boating accident. More than five years later, Venable is still going numbly through the motions of her life. She is sustained most by her love of her family's lush and largely unspoiled island off the coast of South Carolina, where inhabitants of a Gullah village still cling to ancient African-based traditions. When her husband threatens to sell the property to developers, she must finally let go of her grief to protect the island and its ways. Siddons, author of the bestselling 1997 romantic saga Up Island, is at her best describing the low country's natural majesty, but the novel is marred by stock characters and clichéd dialogue. Worse, Venable's attitudes veer uncomfortably close to being racially patronizing. (HarperCollins, $25)
Bottom Line: Siddons's usual charms turn soggy this time out