Peterkin recounts stories of her family circle and her lowcountry home
People are never the same after they meet Genevieve "Sister" Peterkin. Born in 1928 in the small coastal town of Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, Peterkin grew up with World War II bombing practice in her front yard, deep-sea fishing expeditions, and youthful rambles through the Lowcountry. She shared her bedroom with a famous ghost and an impatient older sister. But most of all she listened. She absorbed the tales of her talented mother and her beloved friend. She listened to the stories of the region's older residents, some of them former slaves, who were her friends, neighbors, and teachers.
Peterkin considers herself blessed to have been raised in Murrells Inlet and celebrates the raw beauty of the South Carolina coast. She shares with readers her insider's knowledge of the Lowcountry plantations, gardens, and beaches that were her heritage and today draw so many visitors. She explains about hurricanes and statuary, seafood restaurants and the right bait for bluefish, and much more. Her stories, along with the folk tales and interviews her mother collected for the Works Progress Administration, celebrate the resiliency and wisdom of Lowcountry AfricanAmericans.
But Heaven Is a Beautiful Place is no ordinary "country girl" memoir. For, beneath the humor, hauntings, and treasures of local history, she tells another, deeper story - one that deals with the struggle for racial equality in the South, with the sometimes painful adventures of marriage and parenthood, and with our inner struggles for faith and acceptance of God's mysterious ways. As editor William Baldwin explains, this book is "about striving to serve the common good and about loving people and losing the people you love." This is a book about surviving and enduring and finding the joy at the center of creation, finding that, indeed, heaven is a beautiful place.
Genevieve C. Peterkin has lived in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, for most of her life. She is a local historian and environmental activist
William P. Baldwin, a lifelong resident of the South Carolina Lowcountry, is the author of the novels The Hard to Catch Mercy and The Fennel Family Papers, and nonfiction books on South Carolina history and culture.
"'Heaven' is simultaneously 'local' and universal, intimate and expansive, funny and sad."
"The hopeful quality of 'Heaven' comes through distinctly, especially in Peterkin's wisdom about embracing the moment."—Charleston Post & Courier
"Peterkin's book is a treasure. Not quite an autobiography, not exactly a history, it is a very personal account of a special time and place and the people who made it so."—The State
"Peterkin's voice and Baldwin's editing … give glimpses and insights into an evolving sea coast community that little resembles the Murrells Inlet of today."—Coastal Observer (Pawley's Island)
"Titled after the popular spiritual, this book candidly depicts the life and times of many residents of the Lowcountry through stories that sing of the joys and sorrows of everyday life."—Library Journal
"If you read one book about South Carolina this year, make it 'Heaven is a Beautiful Place.'"—Lexington County Chronicle