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Sweetwater Creek [Hardcover]

Anne Rivers Siddons
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Hardcover, Sep 2005 --  
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Book Description

Sep 2005

From bestselling author Anne Rivers Siddons comes a bittersweet and finely wrought story of friendship, family, and Charleston society.

At twelve, Emily Parmenter knows alone all too well. Left mostly to herself after her beautiful young mother disappeared and her beloved older brother died, Emily is keenly aware of yearning and loss. Rather than be consumed by sadness, she has built a life around the faded plantation where her remote father and hunting-obsessed brothers raise the legendary Lowcountry Boykin hunting spaniels. It is a meager, narrow, masculine world, but to Emily it has magic: the storied deep-sea dolphins who come regularly to play in Sweetwater Creek; her extraordinary bond with the beautiful dogs she trains; her almost mystic communion with her own spaniel, Elvis; the dreaming old Lowcountry itself. Emily hides from the dreaded world here. It is enough.

And then comes Lulu Foxworth, troubled daughter of a truly grand plantation, who has run away from her hectic Charleston debutante season to spend a healing summer with the quiet marshes and river, and the life-giving dogs. Where Emily's father sees their guest as an entrée to a society he thought forever out of reach, Emily is at once threatened and mystified. Lulu has a powerful enchantment of her own, and this, along with the dark, crippling secret she brings with her, will inevitably blow Emily's magical water world apart and let the real one in—but at a terrible price.

Poignant and emotionally compelling, Anne Rivers Siddons's Sweetwater Creek draws you into the luminous landscape of the Lowcountry. With characters that linger long after you've turned the last page, this engaging tale is destined to become an instant classic.

--This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 356 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers (Sep 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0066213355
  • ISBN-13: 978-0066213354
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 3.6 x 16.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,885,695 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


“This story, with its haunting, lyrical prose and complex characters...will captivate any reader.” (Booklist)

“A page-turner. The setting and the isolated life will remind readers of Sue Monk Kidd’s THE MERMAID CHAIR.” (USA Today)

“Themes of love and loss are intertwined throughout, as the reader rides on a tide of Siddons’ lush, lyrical prose.” (Charlotte News & Observer)

“Rises above…by the sheer beauty and power of its prose. A story that refuses to be put down.” (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

“Richly atmospheric…touching, dramatic… one of Siddons’ most impressive novels.” (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

“A fully alive world of many dimensions.” (Tallahassee Democrat)

“Few writers are better than Siddons at evoking the sweet gentility of Southern climes.” (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

“Lush, lyrical prose and loving detail.” (Bangor Daily News)

“This is Siddons’ best work.” (Chicago Tribune)

“A powerful narrative that should satiate Siddons’ many fans and captivate new ones.” (St. Petersburg Times)

“Fans of Southern novels in the vein of FRIED GREEN TOMATOES will relish this one’s rich atmosphere.” (Washington Post) --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

About the Author

Anne Rivers Siddons's bestselling novels include Nora, Nora; Sweetwater Creek; Islands; and Fox's Earth. She is also the author of the nonfiction work John Chancellor Makes Me Cry. She and her husband divide their time between Charleston, South Carolina, and Brooklin, Maine.

--This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
ON A THANKSGIVING EVE, just before sunset, Emily and Elvis sat on the bank of a hummock where it slid down into Sweet-water Creek. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating 16 May 2013
By Mendel
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Anne Rivers Siddons has long been a favourite of mine, and this story did not disappoint.If you like stories about the deep South and its culture then this book is for you. The story of a young girl sadly emotionally neglected by her father and brothers is somehow uplifting. It helps too if you like dogs!
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4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read, as always. 16 Oct 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
I bought this book (kindle version) to take on holiday, and it didn't disappoint. Anne Rivers Siddons is an excellent writer, her atmospheric descriptions of life in southern states of America draw you into the plot she weaves. She tells her story well and you almost feel as though you are there as a witness. My only criticism of this particular book is that I felt that every few pages one of the characters was "in tears". It became an irritation to me and detracted slightly from the tale, but on the whole it was another good read from an excellent author.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BEAUTIFUL READ 21 May 2009
This was always going to be a winner being written by Anne Rivers Siddons, I thoroughly enjoyed every word of it, my daughter did too.
We look forward to Anne's next book with anticipation.
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Amazon.com: 3.6 out of 5 stars  109 reviews
79 of 85 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You'll want to linger longer 11 Aug 2005
By Carolyn Rampone - Published on Amazon.com
I read "Sweetwater Creek" in one day. I couldn't put it down. Not because it was riveting in a "must know" sort of way, rather I didn't want to leave Sweetwater , South Carolina, or little Emily. They became my home. Emily had been left too many times for such a young girl, I needed to stay and make sure she would be okay. Ann Rivers Siddon's writing was so descriptive, so engaging, I became lost in this beautiful place. I angered at Walter who had everything of value before him and wanted only what was beyond his grasp. I loved Emily for desiring and appreciating all that was in front of her and for having the sense to know what was really important. Emily saw all the beauty in her world while her father was constantly in search of something outside of his. That young child had a maturity beyond her years and I had to remind myself she was just a child. In the end, this was a "coming of age" story. A story of love and all too often, loss. There is beauty between these pages and I think it's destined to be a true classic. Highly recommended!
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Overlooked 31 Jan 2007
By BookLover - Published on Amazon.com
The characters engaged enough I could overlook the overusage of prose and heavy descriptive instead of plot writing, I could overlook the overwritten maturity of Emily and the silliness of Lulu's big secret. *pick up the cell phone you called mommy with and call AA and by the way tell your grandmother or father the Big, dark, dirty secret and really get help!*

But what I can't overlook is the unsatisfying ending, you can't pull readers into people's imaginary lives and never tell us a thing. Everythign in this novel was so vague...Buddy's dead, he had a disease...WHAT?? What was his disease? Why was how he ultimately died the best thing???? Was he uncurable? I assume so but we never know which is a shame since her visions and dreams with Buddy are so frequent that we would wonder this.

What happened to Lulu? Basket case I agree, however how completely horrible to draw us into her and Emily and then have her just "fade away" or be dropped she is languishing away, no one wants to read that junk. Be specific give us some details about what happened to Lulu. Throw her in rehab or kill her for goodness sakes!

What was Yancey? wAs he some weird sexual crush Lulu had? Was he a rapist? Did he force her back into his arms? I dont think so, however we're not clear on him.

Where did Emily's mom go? Her father "knew"...but never "said". This novel was horrible.

Everything is just so Vague she should have titled this idiocy piece of fiction that. She had the beginnings of a plot, 300 pages of prose and description, and no real meat/juice or satisfying conclusions.
21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Languid beauty on the surface, doom lurking beneath.. 26 July 2006
By emeleste - Published on Amazon.com
I am a new reader of Anne Rivers Siddons' books. So far I have read "Colony", "Nora Nora", "Downtown" and "Sweetwater Creek". I was attracted to the last one partly because it involved dogs, and partly because of my facination with the South Carolina Lowcountry. I really enjoy Ms Siddon's writing style, but am becoming increasing distressed with what appears to be a "pattern" showing up in the books I've read by her, so far. That "pattern" is to have some charismatic, beautiful, brilliant character who is somehow doomed by a dreadful, twisted flaw that is like a fungus that grows and spreads to effect everything and everyone in it's ...ergo the character's...path. There was the irresponsible, flighty Nora ("Nora Nora"). The brilliant but drunken and out of control Matt Comfort ("Downtown") and the debutante daughter of a friend in "Colony" (forgot the character's name) who was so insidious, I felt soiled even reading about her. I feel pretty much the same way about the character Lulu, in "Sweetwater Creek". Don't misunderstand me: I enjoyed the character of Emily, although I agree with some reviewers here that either she was exceptionally mature for her age, or she was rather contrived and unrealistic. I loved Elvis, the dog. I liked the Aunt, and the Grandmother of Lulu. I even had some sympathy for Walter. I had no patience with the deceased Buddy, however, and little sympathy. The descriptions of the Sweetwater area were magnificent, and evoked an aura of almost being dreamlike. I didn't have any problem with Emily showing "Dog Whisperer" skills with the dogs...I have a bit of that myself. I enjoyed the general "feel" of the book. UNTIL Lulu really started "doing her thing". And her "thing" was really awful. What 20 year old burdens a 12 year old with such filth and debachery, deceit and betrayal as Lulu did to Emily? A 20 year old who came from a reasonably good, if reserved, wealthy family with a wise treasure for a grandmother to mentor her? How sick is that? I didn't feel even remotely sorry for the Lulu character. She struck me as weak, morally bankrupt, and profoundly self-centered. A fungus, indeed. It's tragic that Emily's "coming of age" had to be at the hands of such a reprobate as Lulu. I feel that perhaps Ms Siddons is a bit heavy handed with the "flawed, doomed character" schtick. I gave the book 3 stars because it's an enjoyable read (with the exception of Lulu) and it's well written. I don't think it was a total waste of time at all. But...you may feel an urge to take a long, hot, soapy shower after that hideous scene at Christmastime in the book. One might get the definate sense of having been soiled. Oh...and in case there is any confusion. Lulu was not raped. She was a willing participant, and made that clear when she ordered Emily away from the scene....Her subsequent actions were, in fact, a relief. Still, despite an occasional "eye-roll" at the story...it was an engrossing read. A few loose ends, yes. But basically satisfying, if one can survive Lulu and make it to the end.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If I could live in a novel... 18 Sep 2005
By Cassie W. - Published on Amazon.com
...I would want to live in SWEETWATER CREEK, the latest novel by Anne Rivers Siddons. A magical place where dolphins venture onto land to feed and spaniels speak, a locale that is almost mystical in its unspeakable beauty: the land of the Lowcountry in South Carolina, the place 12-year-old Emily Parmenter calls home. During the summer of her twelfth year, loneliness falls over Emily like a heavy sheet, dark and constricting. Her mother left when she was very young, and her brother Buddy, with whom she read poetry and shared secrets for hours, has been dead for years. Her father and twin brothers, with whom she lives at Sweetwater Plantation, focus all their time on training the plantation's famous and widely known Boykin spaniels. This summer, Emily and her only companion, her own Boykin Elvis, are on their own.

That is, until a wealthy couple from Charleston bring their daughter to Sweetwater to look at the Boykins. LuLu Foxworth is 20 years old, ethereally beautiful and utterly wasted-looking all at once. LuLu is over-tired, her parents say, and is recovering from the flu. When they see how LuLu responds to the dogs, they ask Emily's father Walter if she could possibly come stay with them at Sweetwater for a few months, just until school starts in the fall. Walter Parmenter, who desires nothing more than to be a part of Carolina high society, sees LuLu as his ticket to an unattainable world and ardently agrees to let her stay. At first Emily resists LuLu's presence and attempts at friendship, but it isn't long before the two girls become friends, despite their age difference. And it isn't long before Emily learns that LuLu's perfect life isn't nearly what it seems, and that the young woman is hiding some terrible secrets of her own. What started out like any other summer becomes the summer that Emily grows up, begins to "know things," and recognizes that fact that she must leave her magical world of dolphins and pluff mud and face the real world.

SWEETWATER CREEK is, in one word, astonishing. In Anne Rivers Siddons' expert hands, the magical Carolina Lowcountry comes alive. The novel is thick with atmosphere, and the prose is absolutely breathtaking, lyrical and haunting, and it almost reads like poetry. Her descriptions are vivid and lively, perceptive and evocative. The novel, with all its talk of debutantes and old family plantations, feels timeless.

Siddons' characters are intricate and lovingly written. The relationship between Elvis and Emily is engaging; Emily's relationship with LuLu is complicated and well-explored. Walter is a particularly interesting creation, a man who cares more about his daughter's debut in society than he does about Emily herself. And LuLu--Well, LuLu is a charming, heartbreaking character, a girl who, although she is young, has dark desires to which she can't help but succumb. All of the characters are so real, balancing nicely with the magical unreality of the setting.

SWEETWATER CREEK is, above all, a coming-of-age story. Emily is a finely-wrought heroine, an innocent girl who is brutally introduced to the adult world. The plot meanders, but the novel's message rings clear in Siddons' verdant prose: Eventually, we all grow up; eventually, we have to stop trying to save people who hurt us. SWEETWATER CREEK is a novel not to be missed. Each page contains unspeakable beauty. As one previous reviewer said, you'll want to linger longer in this ethereal world.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another wonderful read from a fantastic writer 2 Sep 2005
By S. B. Hill - Published on Amazon.com
Anne Rivers Siddons never fails to amaze. Her dense, colorful prose and insight into the human personality and frailties make for grand reads. Sweetwater Creek is no exception. Siddons' intricate portrait of the prepubescent Emily, her family and her friend LuLu and especially the Boykin Spaniels they raise is revealing of her understanding of the human condition and the ugliness it often raises. Don't miss this one; she's hit her mark again.
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