Hurricane city a fitting stage for 'Southern Side of Paradise' author

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Kristy Woodson Harvey will be the guest Monday at the StarNews/WHQR Prologue program.

As of the middle of last week, author Kristy Woodson Harvey was a Hurricane Dorian refugee.

The Beaufort, N.C., resident, though, says she’ll be in Wilmington on Monday for Prologue, the book discussion series co-sponsored by the StarNews and public radio station WHQR. The topic of discussion will be “The Southern Side of Paradise,” the latest novel in her Peachtree Bluff series.

Harvey is no stranger to the Port City. She was an official guest of the N.C. Azalea Festival in 2016 and joined Prologue last year to talk about her previous book, “Slightly South of Simple.”

A native Tar Heel, Harvey graduated summa cum laude with a journalism degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, then earned a master’s degree in literature from East Carolina University. She runs a style blog with her mother on the Design Chic site.

Set in a picturesque Georgia coastal town, the Peachtree Bluff books follow the women of the Murphy family: Ansley, an interior designer, and her three grown daughters, Carolina, Emerson and Ashley.

There’s lots to catch up on. In the new novel, Ansley, a widow, is inching toward matrimony with her high school sweetheart Jack, now a millionaire hot dog king. He discovers what happened to her husband, who was missing in action after a helicopter crash in Iraq.

Much of the book, however, focuses on the youngest daughter, Emerson. An actress, she’s just been cast as Frankie in a new version of “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,” but her fiance, Mark, wants her to stay in Peachtree Bluff and have babies. Also, some of Emerson’s old health problems, which flared in the previous book, reappear.


Fans of the Southern romance (“chick lit” is just so tacky), had to be saddened last week by the passing of best-selling Low Country novelist Dorothea Benton Frank.

Frank died on Labor Day at the age of 67. According to the Charleston Post and Courier, Frank’s family said the cause of death was myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a form of cancer similar to leukemia.

The author of 20 novels, including “Sullivan’s Island,” “Isle of Palms,” “Shem Creek,” “Folly Beach” and Porch Lights,” Frank was a regular on The New York Times Best Seller List. Her latest novel, “Queen Bee,” which came out in May from William Morrow, reached No. 2 on the Times’ fiction list, her highest mark to date.

A native of Sullivan’s Island, S.C., Frank attended the Fashion Institute in Atlanta and enjoyed a successful career as a fashion buyer in Charleston, San Francisco and New York. In 1983, she married Peter Frank, an investment banker.

In 1993, Frank’s mother died. She wanted to buy the family home, but her husband, fearful of South Carolina summers, declined. According to a New York Times profile, Frank then resolved to write a book, sell a million copies and buy the house with the proceeds.

It took awhile, but “Sullivan’s Island,” her first book, came out in 1999 and was a hit. Frank could not buy the family home, but she bought a similar house on Sullivan’s Island. Thereafter the Franks divided their time between South Carolina and New Jersey.

Ben Steelman can be reached at 910-343-2208 or

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