Told with a warm, southern delivery from veteran performer Anna Fields, that perfectly matches the gentle atmosphere of Anne Rivers Siddons's Charleston, Sweetwater Creek is the moving story of young Emily Parmenter. With no mother, a recently deceased brother, and a father who is as easy to catch as a waterdog in the Wando River, Emily is forced to keep to herself, running around her family's dilapidated plantation. When a runaway, the troubled Lulu Foxworth, shows up, however, things take a dramatic shift, and Emily's world gets turned inside out. There is much to enjoy in this audiobook from one of the stalwarts in Southern literature.
At 12, Emily Parmenter is left mostly to herself after her mother disappears and her beloved older brother dies. Emily has built a life around the faded plantation where her remote father and hunting-obsessed brothers raise hunting spaniels. It is a meager, masculine world, but to Emily it has magic.
And then comes Lulu Foxworth, troubled daughter of a truly grand plantation, who has run away from her hectic Charleston debutante season. Where Emily's father sees Lulu as an entree to society, Emily is threatened and mystified. Lulu has a powerful enchantment of her own, and this, along with the dark, crippling secret she brings with her, will inevitably blow Emily's world apart and let the real one in, but at a terrible price.
©2005 Anne Rivers Siddons; (P)2005 BBC Audiobooks America, Inc.
"Fans of Southern novels in the vein of Fried Green Tomatoes will relish this one's rich atmosphere." (Washington Post)
"A page-turner. The setting and the isolated life will remind readers of Sue Monk Kidd's The Mermaid Chair." (USA Today)
The story caught me quite thoroughly. The narrator is exceptionally good, especially in her ability to create voices that are readily distinguishable for all of the characters. The story itself carries a foreboding or threatening undertone that made listening a little uncomfortable even though I didn't want to stop. Eventually the threatened badness bears fruit. It's kind of like a classic tragedy complete with a tragic hero but also with a mostly happy ending.
Anne Rivers Siddons writes beautifully and she is an intelligent writer. This coming-of-age story put me on an old southern plantation and I cared about the main character, the disturbed debutante who comes to stay and the beautiful dog Elvis. Siddons writes for women who understand and identify with the characters. If you've enjoyed other Siddons books, I think you'll enjoy this, in spite of its dark undertone.
Unless you are a pre-teen girl, this book is awful. Overly dramatic, prudish, and innane. The story caused more eye rolling than pleasure or interest. The narrator speaks in such a dated southern accent (think "Fog Horn Leg Horn"), and the writer attributes equally dated mannerisms to the characters that when things such as cell phones and SUVs pop up (the story is supposed to be set in modern times) its awkward and unbelievable. Also, black characters are presented in such a way as to be offensive and reminiscent of Jim Crow laws — all are servants or "mammys"— uneducated, simple, poor, loyal to their white famiy... Siddons was apparently born in Georgia in 1936, and her style shows every bit of her age. The story itself was ridiculous in its drama, innane in its plot, and just plain terrible overall.
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