Review: By Invitation Only by Dorothea Benton Frank

By Invitation Only by Dorothea Benton Frank
Published: May 15, 2018
Publisher: William Morrow
Format: via Overdrive
Rating: 4/5

The Lowcountry of South Carolina is where By Invitation Only begins at a barbecue engagement party thrown by Diane English Stiftel, her brother Floyd, and her parents to celebrate her son’s engagement. On this gorgeous, magical night, the bride’s father, Alejandro Cambria, a wealthy power broker whose unbelievably successful career in private equity made him one of Chicago’s celebrated elite, discovers the limits and possibilities of cell phone range. While the mother of the bride, Susan Kennedy Cambria, who dabbles in the world of public relations and believes herself deserving of every square inch of her multimillion-dollar penthouse and imaginary carrara marble pedestal, learns about moonshine and dangerous liaisons.

Soon By Invitation Only zooms to Chicago, where the unraveling accelerates. Nearly a thousand miles away from her comfortable, familiar world, Diane is the antithesis of the bright lights and super-sophisticated guests attending her son Fred’s second engagement party. Why a second party? Maybe it had been assumed that the first one wouldn’t be up to snuff? Fred is marrying Shelby Cambria, also an only child. The Cambrias’ dearest wish is for their daughter to be happy. If Shelby wants to marry Frederick, aka Fred, they will not stand in her way—although Susan does hope her friends won’t think her daughter is marrying more than a few degrees beneath her socially. At the same time, Diane worries that her son will be lost to her forever.

By Invitation Only is a tale of two families, one struggling to do well, one well to do, and one young couple—the privileged daughter of Chicago’s crème de la crème and the son of hard-working Southern peach farmers.

Dorothea Benton Frank offers a funny, sharp, and deeply empathetic novel of two very different worlds—of limousines and pickup trucks, caviars and pigs, skyscrapers and ocean spray—filled with a delightful cast of characters who all have something to hide and a lot to learn. A difference in legal opinions, a headlong dive from grace, and an abrupt twist will reveal the truth of who they are and demonstrate when it truly counts, what kind of grit they have. Are they living the life they want, what regrets do they hold, and how would they remake their lives if they were given the invitation to do so?

My Thoughts
I don’t know about you but I’m a seasonal reader, during the Summer I usually want something light so when I saw By Invitation Only I thought this would be perfect for a Summer read, boy was I right! I really enjoyed this tale of Shelby and Fred who got engaged and now their families must come together to celebrate and as you can figure out nothing goes as planned.

When Fred’s Southern family invites Shelby’s Northern family for an engagement BBQ Shelby’s mom Susan is in for a culture shock she soon won't forget. Let’s be honest she is a plain snob if it doesn’t cost hundreds of thousands of dollars it isn’t worth her time unless it’s Fred’s uncle who she takes a good shining to. However Fred’s mom Diane refuses to let Susan look down at her and just wants to make her son happy and just wants to stay true to herself and her family. Meanwhile, Susan as taken over the wedding plans and making it all about her and her reputation, claiming to want the best for Shelby but honestly just wanting to show up to all her high and mighty friends. Susan doesn’t realize it but soon her world will be crashing down all around her and showing off will be the least of her worries.

Soon Shelby realizes that while she has grown up with all the privilege in the world she envies Fred because he grew up in a very close-knit family who enjoyed family traditions and would do anything for one another. They soon decide they want to just get married without all the hoopla and of course this doesn’t sit well with Susan. Disaster soon strikes on both sides of the family and everyone soon finds out what is truly important in life. These things make they stronger and closer as a family and they come together like they never would’ve imagined.

This was a truly great novel one that totally exceeded my expectations. I listened to the audio which was fantastic! As a person who loves her Southern reads this is how it should be done, it was true to how we are and it wasn't overdone and didn't make us seem like some joke like other novels can do. I truly enjoyed this novel that focused on family, it was heartfelt and funny at times everything I wanted and needed in a book right now. This is one book that I will be telling everyone to read this Summer, so if you need something that will make you laugh and something you really want to enjoy I highly recommend By Invitation Only you won't be disappointed.

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