Literature of the Southern States – Part 2
Written on August 19, 2020
Let’s venture into the deep south – South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi – where the summers are long, hot, and humid and the days fade into stiff evenings cooled by visits on the front porch. From the bayou towns of Louisiana to the quaint historic streets of Charleston, South Carolina, the cuisine, music, and literature of the most southern states will enchant you.
The novels of Pat Conroy: Pat Conroy is known for his sweeping stories about love and family set in South Carolina, particularly The Prince of Tides and Beach Music. The Prince of Tides, a family saga spanning forty years, tells the story of twins Tom and Savannah and their struggle to triumph over the tragic history of their extraordinary family. Beach Music is a multi-generational saga about widower Jack McCall, who tries to find peace following his wife’s suicide through uncovering the family’s darkest secrets. If you fall in love with Conroy’s storytelling, he has several other acclaimed titles to choose from.
The cozy mysteries of Laura Childs: Laura Childs writes several series in the cozy mystery genre, but perhaps her most beloved is the The Tea Shop Mysteries. In the first book of the series (Death by Darjeeling) readers meet Theodosia Browning, owner of the Indigo Teashop of Charleston, who often finds herself solving the town’s murders. The stories in the series are charming, the employees of the Indigo Teashop are quite likeable, and the descriptions about tea and accompanying treats are enticing. The books feature captivating details about tea and include recipes to enhance your reading experience.
Dorothea Benton Frank: Author of twenty novels set in the Low Country of South Carolina, Benton Frank writes women’s fiction that features likeable characters struggling to overcome challenges in their marriages or with their families, all against the backdrop of her prominently featured home state. Perhaps begin with Sullivan’s Island (Lowcountry Tales #1) if you wish to start a series, or The Land of Mango Sunsets if you wish to read a standalone novel.
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell: You’ve most likely seen the film, but if you have never read Margaret Mitchell’s American classic, Gone with the Wind, it is time to settle in with the 1,000 page story of Scarlett and Rhett during the Civil War.
Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns: Scandal erupts when E. Rucker Blakeslee (a widower of three weeks) elopes with the young Miss Love Simpson in 1906 Cold Sassy, Georgia. A popular selection for high school reading lists around the country, Cold Sassy Tree is an enchanting glimpse into small town Georgia at the start of the 20th century.
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones: Lauded as one of the best books of 2018 with many award nominations, An American Marriage explores themes of the American Dream, life in the New South, and marriage.
The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson: Jackson, beloved writer of southern women’s fiction, tells the story of Leia, pregnant, single and returning to Alabama to care for her ailing grandmother while planning her next steps. While at its surface a family drama, The Almost Sisters expertly explores both southern hospitality and the undercurrents of racism that exist in the region. Jackson has many books to her name, but this is one of her finest.
We Are All Welcome Here by Elizabeth Berg: In 1964 Tupelo, Mississippi, the Civil Rights movement is causing violence and unrest throughout the state. Teenage Diana faces further challenges at home while, with the help of smart-talking Peacie, she cares for her mother who is paralyzed from the neck down from polio. The book explores themes of motherhood and searching for freedom from varying life situations. Berg is known for her stories about relationships, and when a fan requested for her to fictionalize her mother’s own ordeal with polio, Berg obliged and wrote a memorable novel. She narrates her own audiobooks and her soothing voice is perfect for accompanying her written words.
Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice: If you’d like to lose yourself in a thick paperback that relays the story of one man’s unwilling transformation from a mortal life to an immortal life as a vampire, the first book in Rice’s Vampire Chronicles series is the perfect fit. Follow Louis through the streets of New Orleans where he meets the beautiful Claudia, desiring to make her his own. Then, embark for Paris, where the two ultimately become part of the society for vampires and must learn to find their way among their kind. Themes explored include power and change in life.
Next on the reading road trip: Learn about fun activities you can enjoy while visiting Charleston, South Carolina.
Then, we’ll “drive” to Florida for more great literature and memorable travel experiences.
More literature from the southern states:
20 Essential Southern Novels and Short Stories
Dorothea Benton Frank (Official Site)