13 May 2019

By Invitation Only | Book Review


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?

By Invitation Only is classic Dorothea Benton Frank—a mesmerizing Lowcountry tale that roars with spirit, humor, and truth, and forces us to reconsider our notions of what it means to be a Have or a Have Not.

Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Release Date: May 15, 2018


Traveling between South Carolina’s Lowcountry and high Chicago society, Dorothea Benton Frank’s By Invitation Only delivers a heartfelt, entertaining story of home, family, and the changes, both good and bad, that reveal what really matters.

Initially brought together by their children’s imminent nuptials, Diane English Stiftel and Susan Kennedy Cambria couldn’t be more different. Diane is down-to-earth—nearly literally considering her land-based income—while Susan thrives on the posh and well-to-do. Yet, event after event—from engagement parties to the wedding and a few other unexpected surprises—sparks an unlikely, but necessary friendship.

I so enjoyed By Invitation Only. Getting to know Diane and Susan was immensely fun (even with a few frustrating moments), and Frank writes their story with great humor and heart. It’s an easy book to recommend to readers of contemporary fiction in need of a light, heartwarming read.

I received a complimentary copy of this book and the opportunity to provide an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, and all the opinions I have expressed are my own.


New York Times bestselling author Dorothea Benton Frank was born and raised on Sullivans Island, South Carolina. She resides in the New York area with her husband.


1 comment:

  1. I love all of her books because I always feel like I want to vacation in Lowcountry and be friends with all of these people! Thank you for being on this tour! Sara @ TLC Book Tours