Getting ready for my annual trip back to North and South Carolina to visit relatives and go to the beach. Here in northern California we go to the ocean but in the southeast you go to beach and it is a very different experience! My sisters and I have visited every popular beach from the Outer Banks in North Carolina to Tybee Island, Georgia. Most of our favorite places, including Charleston and Hilton Head Island, happen to be in low country in SC. I love the southern sense of humor and charm, which is reflected in their literature.
I would like to introduce you to a few of the most popular low country authors.
I discovered Kathy Trocheck many years ago when I picked up Every Crooked Nanny, a cosy mystery, featuring Callahan Garrity. The main character is a former cop turned housecleaner/amateur sleuth. Her books are amusing, with a cast of characters that reminds me of (and predates) Janet Evanovitch's Stephanie Plum series. Trocheck has now written 24 best selling novels, most under the pseudonym Mary K. Andrews, which fall into the romantic suspense genre. She is definitely worth checking out when you are in the mood for something fun to read.
If you want a little more serious low country literature, I suggest you check out Pat Conroy. He is recognized as a leading figure of late 20th century Southern Literature. He has written both fiction and nonfiction books, most based on his life as a military brat with an abusive Marine father. Some of the most famous ones are: The Water is Wide, The Lords of Discipline, The Prince of Tides and The Great Santini. The last two were made into films, and were nominated for an Oscar. The Water Is Wide is a 1972 memior by Pat Conroy and is based on his work as a teacher on Daufuskie Island, South Carolina, which is called Yamacraw Island in the book. My sisters and I toured the island which is populated by descends of slaves who had little contact with the mainland. There is little infrastructure and you feel as though you have stepped back into time. We drove a golf cart on dirt roads and got to see the schoolhouse where Conroy taught.
One of the most prolific low country writers is Anne Rivers Siddons. She has nineteen novels to her credit and the one titled Low Country is one of her best. In a departure from her usual fare she has written one very different novel, The House Next Door, which Stephen King called one of the finest horror novels of the 20th century.
One of the outstanding low country authors is Dorothea Benton Frank, who sadly passed away in 2019. If you want a taste of this area I suggest you try one of the 10 novels in her Low Country Tales. Many of the books in this series are named after beaches/islands that I have visited. Frank's impetus to start writing occurred when the family home on Sullivan's Island went up for sale. Her husband refused to buy it so she told him she was going to write a book so she would have the money to buy it. She then wrote Sullivan's Island which was the start of a successful writing career. She was able to buy a different home on the island.
Karen White is another popular author who has written over 25 novels with most of her books set in the low country. She has a series of 7 books about a real estate agent in Charleston who also happens to be a psychic and sees ghosts. The popular Tradd Street series would be classified as belonging in the paranormal mystery genre.
Mary Alice Monroe is the bestselling author of 27 books. She has two book series: Beach House with 7 novels and Low Country Summer with 5 books in the series. Her books feature strong southern women and often deal with nature and environmental issues such as the plight of injured sea turtles. She is the co host of the weekly web show and podcast Friends & Fiction. She has homes in both North and South Carolina.
Just a reminder that we will be celebrating the fiftieth (50th!) anniversary of Paperbacks Unlimited on June 1st. Please come by to help us celebrate!
PS: I will be visiting my Great Aunt Annie in Charlotte who just celebrated her 112th birthday. She is the oldest living person in NC!