By Invitation Only

By Invitation Only

A Novel

Large Print - 2018 | Large print edition.
Average Rating:
Rate this:

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 marryingmore 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: New York, NY : HarperLuxe, [2018]
Edition: Large print edition.
ISBN: 9780062845658
Branch Call Number: Large Print FIC Frank
Characteristics: 476 pages (large print) ; 23 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Mar 17, 2019

I so appreciate Dorothea Benton Frank's sense of humor so aptly spot on with southern girl charm (read charming southern girl sarcasm!). In By Invitation Only the characters are so utterly real, so themselves yet known to all of us in some we know.

By Invitation Only is a great summer read, funny and relatable. I wish I were neighbors with the wise Miss Virnell and able to laugh regularly with 'Lady Di' on the front porch with a cold glass of sweet tea.

Feb 03, 2019

Enjoyable family story when a young couple marry bringing their two families together despite scandal.

Dec 10, 2018

Her best book!!
The characters are loveable and the story just swallows you up. An easy by-the-fireside read!

Aug 17, 2018

Absolutely loved this book! Great summer read! Easy. Relatable. Funny! Did not want to put it down!

Jul 23, 2018

"By Invitation Only" starts with an engagement party for Shelby and Fred in South Carolina's Low country. It is soon obvious to everyone that Shelby is marrying way below her social status, coming as she does from Upper crust Chicago society. However, Fred's family trump's Shelby's by their 'goodness.' I could go on but anything I say would be a spoiler since Dorothy Benton Frank has written this novel in such a way that every sentence is germane to the story. Suffice it to say that this is a good summer read.

Jun 21, 2018

Utterly predictable. Cartoonish dialogue and characters. Not up to this author’s usual high standards.

Jun 16, 2018

ABsolutely loved this book and read through it fast since I couldn't seem to put it down. She writes with a great sense of humor which I enjoy. Towards the middle of the book I could see what was coming with Alejandro and his hedge fund accounts, so I wasn't surprised when the big mess came along. I also figured the love angles would come out beautifully and they did and that made the romance part of the book satisfying. I loved the book and look forward to her next great read.

Jun 10, 2018

Couldn't put it down. Brilliant city v. country mouse tale. Dorothea Benton Frank is the country mouse who made it big in NYC by writing about her Low Country roots.

She does a brilliant job of exposing the pretensions of big city life as well as the myth of the poor dirt farmer.

I took a half-star off my rating because Ms. Frank should have done more research on Chicago before she picked up her pen. Susan's story is loosely based on Ruth Maddox, but it falls apart in Chicago which has few hedge fund managers but lots of high-flying, over-leveraged commodity brokers. The Union League Club is dowdy and boring. It might have worked if she had set the wedding at the Tavern Club, but it was closed before 2016. Chicago doesn't have many co-ops; it is a condo city. There aren't any down-home restaurants near the Park Hyatt.

Spoiler alert: If Susan lived in Chicago, she would have pocketed the cash stashed in the tennis racket as well as her jewels and decamped to the Bahamas before the feds showed up. The wine? We drank it at the wedding. The kids' honeymoon in Africa would have ended before it began because daddy probably paid for it with his credit card.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at VPL

To Top