Coming Together For Author Dorothea Benton Frank
May 2021 Issue
By Elizabeth Skenes Millen
Adored author Dorothea Benton Frank was a mama bear in every sense of the word. Her protective motherly spirit not only applied to her two children, but also lovingly extended to her friends, family, Southern roots and ever-growing circle of fellow writers. She gave so much love, laughter and instant friendship while living, that in her death, her friends and family still feel the immense authentic embrace that Dottie so naturally enveloped people in.
Out this month, Reunion Beach, sure to be a No. 1 bestseller, pays homage to Dottie, holding vigil her legacy for all who love her. “When Dottie died in the fall of 2019, her friends in the literary community were bereft. Her loss was a hole in their lives that could not be filled. 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 lush 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 Dorothea Benton Frank’s very first book, Sullivan’s Island, readers could not get enough of her way with words, characters and story. Dottie could weave a yarn that made readers want to immerse themselves into the plot, and feel impending dread for the last chapter to arrive. Just as in her books, when Dottie’s last life chapter arrived way too soon, both the literary world and her fan base were left wanting more. Dottie had a way of letting you know her, connecting with her, which made her passing all the more personal, even to those who had never met her.
That is what Reunion Beach is—a personal love letter to Dottie and her fans. Through this book, her literary friends write from their hearts to try and fill the hole Dottie’s death left for all of us. As I read the book, I could feel Dottie’s spirit running through each story and with every turn of the page. The Reunion Beach author line up is terrific and chock-full of New York Times No. 1 bestselling authors: Mary Alice Monroe; Patti Callahan Henry; Elin Hilderbrand; and Adriana Trigiani. Each of them write mini-versions of what we have come to love about their novels—love, loss, connection, friendship and life. Others, such as Cassandra King Conroy; Marjory Wentworth; Nathalie Dupree and Mary Norris join in the tribute, too, with entries that are fun, memorable and heartwarming. Dottie’s dear friend Pat Conroy even sends posthumous letters from heaven to her filled with all the personality one would expect from Pat.
This book is an easy and enjoyable read, bursting with emotion and love that would touch Dottie beyond any surprise she ever pulled off—she loved surprising people and making them feel like they “saved the world!” I would say she would call this book “heaven on earth.” Perhaps most touching are the words shared from her husband and two adult children. Family was everything to Dottie and it shows. Her son states, “The only thing greater than Mom’s mind was her heart. When Mom was in your corner you could not lose.”
This book is a whole lot of others being in Dottie’s corner, and it’s a beautiful read you will be glad you’re a part of. Be sure to come grab your own hardback copy of Reunion Beach.