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March 23, 2016

The Hurricane Sisters

The Hurricane Sisters

The Hurricane Sisters

By: Dorothea Benton Frank

When you look below the surface, most families have a web of history and relationships that affect the way they interact with each other.  This is the case for the Waters family including matriarch, Maisie Pringle.   The Hurricane Sisters is the story of the Waters family:   mother–Liz, a fundraiser and administrator for a domestic violence shelter; father–Clayton, a successful self-made banker who spends his weekdays in New York City;  Liz’s mother Maisie, a dynamic 80-year-old who is having a relationship with her 65-year old driver;  Ashley—their daughter who is a young painter working at an art gallery;  Ivy—their son who owns a successful retail clothing store in San Francisco; and friends, lovers and others.  The novel takes place in Charleston, South Carolina and Frank’s descriptions of the setting are very charming and picturesque.

The story opens on the evening of Maisie’s eightieth birthday and many of the family squabbles come to light at her birthday dinner.  All of the family is there in addition to Ivy’s partner, a successful businessman from Hong Kong.  During the dinner, there is obvious tension between family members.  Maisie repeatedly mentions Liz’s sister, Juliet, who died years previously.  Liz feels her mother wishes that Juliet was still alive instead of Liz.  Liz and Clayton freely discuss the fact that Ashley can’t afford to live on her own on her salary without their help and Liz is scandalized by Ashley’s attire.  When Ivy’s partner leaves the table, Liz interrogates Ivy about the relationship. And finally, Maisie announces, Skipper, her driver is moving in with her.

The conflicts and issues that come to light during Maisie’s birthday dinner continue throughout the novel.  The story progresses one chapter at a time, each told through a different family member’s viewpoint.  One of the main recurring themes throughout the novel is domestic violence and it is encountered in different ways by different characters.  The Hurricane Sisters is a hilarious exploration of one South Carolina family and the issues that divide them and eventually bring them back together.

Review By: Heidi Herald