Bulls Island, by Dorothea Benton Frank. Published 2008 by William Morrow. Fiction.
Betts McGee has a problem. Actually, she has a few. A high powered Manhattan executive with roots in the South Carolina lowcountry, she's sent back home for a career-boosting assignment developing an environmentally sensitive barrier island. Along the way she'll have to deal with her old flame, his brittle Barbie wife along with rest of his family, and keep the secret of the existence of her 18-year-old son by the aforementioned old flame. All while looking good and sealing the deal.
I read Bulls Island while vacationing in South Carolina this past summer and it was a fine book with which to while away a plane flight. I'm just not sure I can recommend it for anything else. Betts was interesting but the family drama was nothing short of soap-opera worthy, from the secret child to the tragic love affair to the new wife's drug addiction. I read the book hoping for local color and was disappointed but if melodrama had a color this book would be painted all over. The people didn't behave the way people behave; neglecting to mention the existence of a child for 18 years- not just to the father but to your own entire family- isn't just eccentric, it's psychotic. And since that's the central drama of the book, it was hard for me to sympathize with Betts.
And if I don't like a protagonist it's really hard for me to like a novel. Bulls Island was entertaining enough but somewhat bland and forgettable at the end of the day. Lots of readers like Frank's books and Bulls Island was mindless fun as long as I didn't think about it too much. But that's not usually good enough for me and I doubt I'll be revisiting her world anytime soon.
FTC Disclosure: I did not receive this book for review.