Caroline Venable has everything her Southern heritage promised: money, prestige, a powerful husband--and a predictable routine of country-club luncheons, cocktail parties, and dinners hosting her husband's wealthy friends, clients, and associates in his successful land-developing conglomerate.
To escape her stifling routine, Caro drinks a little too much. But her true solace is the Lowcountry island her beloved Granddaddy left her--an oasis of breathtaking beauty that is home to a band of wild ponies. When Caro learns that her husband must develop the island or lose the business, she is devastated. The Lowcountry is her heritage--and what will happen to the ponies whose spirit and freedom have captivated her since childhood
Saving the island could cost Caroline more than she ever imagined. To succeed, she must confront the part of herself numbed by alcohol and careful avoidance--and shatter long-held ideals about her role in society, her marriage, and ultimately, herself.
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January 01, 1999
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Excerpt from Low Country by Anne Rivers Siddons
"I think I'll go over to the island for a few days," I said to my husband at breakfast, and then, when he did not respond, I said, "The light's beautiful. It can't last. I hate to waste it. We won't get this pure gold again until this time next year."
Clay smiled, but he did not put down his newspaper, and he did not speak.The smile made my stomach dip and rise again, as it has for the past twenty-five years. Clay's smile is wonderful, slow and unstinting and a bit crooked, and gains much of its power from the surrounding austerity of his sharp, thin face. Over the years I have seen it disarm a legion of people, from two-year-olds in mid-tantrum to Arab sheiks in same. Even though I knew that this smile was little more than a twitch, and with no more perception behind it, I felt my own mouth smiling back. I wondered, as I often do, how he could do that, smile as though you had absolutely delighted him when he had not heard a word you said.
"There is a rabid armadillo approaching you from behind," I said. "It's so close I can see the froth. It's not a pretty sight."
"I heard you," he said. "You want to go over to the island because the light's good. It can't last."
I waited, but he did not speak again, or raise his eyes.
Finally I said, "So Is that okay with you "
This time he did look up.
"Why do you ask You don't need my permission to go over to the island. When did I ever stop you "
His voice was level and reasonable; it is seldom anything else. I knew that he did not like me to go over to the island alone, though, for a number of reasons that we had discussed and one that we had not, yet.
The island is wild and largely undeveloped now, except for a tiny settlement on its southwestern tip, and there are wild animals living on it that are hostile to humans, and sometimes dangerous. It is home to a formidable colony of alligators, some more than twelve feet long, and a handful of wild boar that make up in ferocity what they lack in numbers. Rattlesnakes and water moccasins are a given. Even the band of sullen wild ponies that have lived there on the grassy hummocks between the creeks and inlets since time out of mind are not the amiable toys they seem. A small child from the settlement was badly kicked only last year, when he got too close to a mare nursing her foal. Clay knows that I have been handling myself easily and well on the island since I was a child, but he mistrusts what he calls my impetuosity more than he trusts my long experience and exemplary safety record.