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Dancing in the Lowcountry


Dancing in the Lowcountry

DANCING IN THE LOWCOUNTRY is a novel about relationships ---
those we are born into and those we choose on our own. Set in the
warm, lush beauty of the South Carolina Lowcountry, the book
centers on Ella Dubose, a Southern lady of a certain age, whose
flower may be fading but who still wants to control her own

When her adult children begin questioning the wisdom of her
independence, she gathers up her companion, a Cherokee Indian named
Goldie, and drives down to a genteel seaside inn on Myrtle Beach.
There, while waiting for her eldest son Tyler, a successful New
York City novelist, to join her, she meets up with a gentleman
doctor from New Jersey and the romantic sparks fly. But Ella and
Tyler each have some unfinished business to attend to with one
another, and while she awaits her son’s arrival, she relives
some memories from times gone by and contemplates the choices we
make in our lives that end up defining us.

James Villas, a successful food and wine writer for over 25
years, has an obvious passion for the people, places and details of
his Southern heritage. An award-winning cookbook author who has
often explored the culinary traditions of the Southern United
KITCHEN), he has as confident and sure a style with fiction as he
does with biscuits. DANCING IN THE LOWCOUNTRY is replete with the
essence of South Carolina, from the descriptions of the dining
table fare (just reading about the hush puppies is sure to make
your mouth water) to the beach fishing to the detailed scenes
describing the one and only Carolina Shag --- a unique dancing
style typical of the area. (In fact, Villas’s descriptions
were so intriguing that I had to check it out for myself --- there
are some great videos of Carolina Shag dancing available on He has an ear for nuance and an eye for detail, and
his sense of place is pitch-perfect.

Part of the delight of DANCING IN THE LOWCOUNTRY is its ability
to evoke a different place and time --- a time when boys asked
girls to shag to the music of bands like the Drifters, and when
people dressed up for dinner. The tale moves seamlessly between its
modern-day storyline at Myrtle Beach with Ella and Goldie to
Ella’s reminiscences of growing up in the area. As she steels
herself to tell Tyler the full truth about his life, she remembers
the two men who most clearly marked her past and tentatively
explores the possibility of a future with Edmund.

DANCING IN THE LOWCOUNTRY is a perfect autumn read, when the
change in seasons naturally encourages us to be a bit reflective
about our lives. Villas’s obvious love for his setting and
subject matter imbues the novel with classic Southern charm. And
like a great beach song, a perfect slow dance, or a special
Southern dinner among friends, the memory of these characters stay
with you long after you have finished their story.

Reviewed by Lourdes Orive on December 29, 2010

Dancing in the Lowcountry
by James Villas

  • Publication Date: October 1, 2008
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Kensington
  • ISBN-10: 0758228473
  • ISBN-13: 9780758228475