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Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite
Reading The Front Porch Sisters by Sue Chamblin Frederick is like sipping Southern Comfort in front of a warm fire, or, perhaps more appropriate to the primary setting of the book, relaxing on the front porch, watching the sun set over country farmlands. The Front Porch Sisters evokes memories of the peace and security that comes with being part of a family and/or community where it’s all for one and one for all, a feeling too often lost in today’s “it’s all about me” mentality. If your roots are Madison County in Florida, oh how you will enjoy, and possibly understand better than those of us who aren’t from there, the affection these two front porch sisters, Essie and Jewell, have for each other, their neighbours and even the chickens, cattle, bulls and horses that are part of their daily lives. But make no mistake: as much as these two ladies are Southern belles with Southern mannerisms, charms and beliefs, when necessary, they can and will stand up to anyone who is a threat to each other or those they care about, like the one-armed black veteran, Dooray Aikens.
While the novel is more about the character of the feisty, take charge Essie, who 15 years earlier abandoned her dream of getting away to a more exciting life in the big city when her delicate sister Jewell suffered permanent memory loss after a near drowning, the plot is not all sweetness and light. Bad people and bad events upset the tranquility, but thanks to a community that rallies behind its residents in times of need, good overcomes evil. The people of Pinetta prove they are a force to be reckoned with: no big city slickers have much of chance against them if they attempt to harm any community member. And perhaps that’s just another reason why Pinetta eventually brings back those who left it, like Essie’s suitor, Sam: home is always where the heart is.
That welcoming heart is what The Front Porch Sisters show each other and all who stop by to enjoy some of their fabulous buttered rum cake and coffee. By the time you finish reading this charming novel, you might find yourself craving, as I did, some of that southern hospitality and a slice of that cake. One of the best rewards I received for reading this novel came after the story ended when I found the author had included the recipe for buttered rum cake. What a treat! I cannot tell you how much I’m looking forward to baking up the sisters’ cake and serving it with the same love to my family and friends as Essie and Jewell did, and with which the author wrote The Front Porch Sisters.