Creating a family
For Anne Rivers Siddons, who counts Up Island and Low Country among the 14 previous titles to her credit, Islands is her first since 2000. Interestingly, though the two books tell very different stories, Islands is also a novel with the theme of connection at its core. Siddons' protagonist, Anny Butler, is 35 and devoted to her work as director of a "part federally, part privately funded sort of clearinghouse for services for needy children." When she totes a frightened, clubfooted child through the pouring rain to Dr. Lewis Aiken's Orthopedic Clinic, she's unaware that this action will change her life. Siddons' rich prose and trademark capacity for evoking time and place is evident as Anny describes that afternoon as "humid and punishing as spring can often be in the Carolina Low Country, when the air felt like thick, wet steam and the smell of the pluff mud from the marshes around Charleston stung in nostrils and permeated clothes and hair." Anny eventually marries Lewis, and their union is a happy and fulfilling one, but it is being accepted into the "Scrubs," a group of childhood friends (all of whom became involved in the medical industry in some way hence the name "Scrubs") and their spouses who share a beach house on idyllic Sullivan's Island, which gives her a true sense of family. Although each couple has their own additional residence, the beach house is where they all meet as often as they can, and where Anny feels she truly "lives." Like the unpredictable storms that lash the island, life too unleashes tragedy and devastation on the group, challenging the remark by the group's most faithful member, Camilla Curry, who vows "the center will hold." Devoted readers and new fans alike are sure to appreciate these two Southern authors who have once again delivered, with their individually distinct flair and flourish, lush and engrossing tales. Linda Stankard writes from Nanuet, New York.