One sunny morning in 1969, near the end of her first trip to Miami, 26-year-old Frances Ellerby discovers a place called Stiltsville, a community of houses built on pilings in the middle of Biscayne Bay. For the Atlanta native, it’s the first time she’s been out on the open water, the first time she’s felt alive in months. Giddy with the freedom of this idyllic, foreign place, and enjoying her first taste of adventure, she meets the fair-haired Dennis DuVal, the careless yet lucky man with whom she will spend the next three decades. Frances is seduced by Miami’s chaos and beauty, by the sun and sea and sky that Dennis calls home. Going against her cautious nature, she leaves her job and moves to Florida to start a life with Dennis. With a baby daughter and very little to call their own, surrounded by an intimate community of friends and relatives, Frances and Dennis set out on a decades-long journey. Over the years, they struggle with the vicissitudes of love and Florida’s weather, infidelity, parenthood, friendship, Hurricane Andrew, and debilitating illness—coming to terms, finally, with a life that doesn’t necessarily end happily-ever-after, but one which Frances wouldn’t trade for anything. Susanna Daniel interweaves the tropical intensity, beauty, violence, and humanity of Miami as it comes of age with a modern yet enduring story of a marriage’s beginning, maturity, and heartbreaking demise.
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