From award-winning author James Villas comes a warm, witty, and poignant story of passion, friendship, and family set against the lush, mellow backdrop of the South Carolina Lowcountry.
Ella Dubose is a Southern lady of a certain age--an age at which memories of youth can rush in at every turn and overwhelm the present. But while Ella's two younger children are concerned for her health and want to limit her independence, Ella--elegant, unconventional, and unrepentantly willful--has very different ideas. And she's not about to be controlled by anyone, not when there are tasks she needs to complete and loose ends that must be tied.
The first step is to leave her family and take a road trip back to the places where key chapters of her life unfolded. Myrtle Beach has been overrun by theme restaurants and ocean-front condos, but the Priscilla is still the charming, shingled inn Ella remembers from visits long ago. At the Priscilla, Ella and her companion, Goldie, sip cocktails on the porch and dine on she-crab soup and fried oysters while awaiting the arrival of Ella's oldest son, Tyler, now a successful writer in New York. And there, too, Ella meets a dashing, attentive gentleman who will help her finally face her ghosts and determine which of the secrets she has carried for so long must be shared, and which are better left untold.
With its unforgettable and instantly loveable heroine and evocative portrayal of Southern life--past and present--Dancing in the Lowcountry is a beguiling, beautifully rendered novel about the places and people that stay with us, the courage it takes to live in the present, and the endless ways life can surprise us, over and over again.
James Villas was the food and wine editor of Town & Country magazine for twenty-seven years. His work has also appeared in Esquire, Gourmet, Bon Appetit, Saveur, The New York Times, and the Atlantic Monthly, among other publications. Two of his cookbooks have been nominated for a James Beard Award. He has also won a James Beard Award twice for journalism and received Bon Appetit's Food Writer of the Year Award in 2003. James Villas is the author of more than a dozen cookbooks and books on food, including My Mother's Southern Kitchen and The Glory of Southern Cooking. He's currently working on his next novel. He lives in East Hampton, New York.
"Jimmy's fiction is like his cooking, wry and ribald, languid and laugh-out-loud funny. When you are from the South, as I am, these are the characters you wish were in your family. A wonderful novel from a wonderful man. The only better thing than reading it would be to hear the author read it outloud. His delicious sass fills every page. A real feast. Serve with some sippin' whiskey and enjoy!" --Marsha Norman, Pulitzer Prize winning playwright of 'night, Mother
"James Villas has crafted an epic story steeped in the traditions and culture of the South. It's about family and secrets, memories and regrets, lifelong passions and the inevitable tragedies we all face. Ella Dubose is a complicated, courageous woman still living with gusto, still struggling over life's hurdles, still dancing in the Lowcountry with grit and grace." --Cathy Lamb, author of Julia's Chocolates
"James Villas' Dancing in the Lowcountry resonates with the elegance and master storytelling skills that have made his award-winning food writing timeless. Simply told and yet complexly layered, Miss Ella's journey from spoiled girlhood to endearing eccentricity vividly reminds us that there is always more to the celebrated "steel magnolias" of the South than meets the eye. Not all Southerners are good storytellers, but Villas sure makes the maxim seem true." --Damon Lee Fowler, author of Classical Southern Cooking and The Savannah Cookbook
"In the character of Ella Dubose, James Villas shows us how through sheer force of character a person can throw off the burden of the past and choose to accept the challenge of the future. Authentic detail of time and place helps bring Miss Ella's beloved Lowcountry alive on the page." --Holly Chamberlin, author of Tuscan Holiday
"Dancing in the Lowcountry is a delightful and moving account of a certain kind of upper middle-class life in the South of my own generation. I know of few, if any, novels that give such an accurate account of that life and of the rich and amusing language we've used for a long while now--whether we're white, black, or red." --Reynolds Price, author of A Long and Happy Life
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