Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Beach House Memories by Mary Alice Monroe.....

I have almost completely converted to reading solely on my iPad (or my Kindle if I'm outside in bright light). Every now and then when Hubby goes to the library, though, I tag along with him, and I feel guilty if I leave empty-handed. I mean, Hubby checks out four or five books at a time, and he is always finished with them before they are due back. The man is a voracious reader.

I went with him to the library the other day, in spite of the fact that I have about seven or eight unread books already downloaded, mainly because it was too hot to sit in the car, and this book caught my eye. I almost passed on it just because it had the word "beach" in the title. I love a good beach read, and I like reading ABOUT the beach, but I've been burned too many times by books that were proclaimed "excellent beach reads" and turned out to be major disappointments. Just because something is considered good beach reading doesn't mean it has to have a plot that is trite, writing that is adolescent, and characters straight out of a sitcom.

The main reason I DID check this one out is because it is set on Isle of Palms, an island right outside Charleston that is dear to my heart. It's where one of my high school pals has a condo, and where four of us got together and spent a magnificent weekend back in 2005. That weekend produces bittersweet memories now, as one of my friends died very unexpectedly from a heart attack just six months later. She was only 45 years old.

The main character, Olivia ("Lovie"), is from old-money and is married to the equivalent of old-money Charleston gentry. While the beginning and end of the book are contemporary, most of the book is a flashback to one summer (and part of another one) when her children were young. Lovie has always had a love/interest/passion/obsession in the island's sea turtles, and she becomes involved as a volunteer in an official study to determine the effects on the turtles if proposed development of the island comes to fruition.

I loved almost everything about this book. The characters are well developed, and they are REAL PEOPLE. We might not always agree with their decisions or the things they say, but they are as unpredictable and capricious as the real people in our lives are. There were just enough things left unanswered to make the story more intriguing but not frustrating. For example (and I don't think this will be giving anything away if any of you should decide to read this one), at the beginning of the book there is a brief mention that Lovie and her now-grown daughter, Cara, have been recently reunited after being estranged for a period of time. I was eager to find out at the end of the book what had led to the estrangement, but it is never revealed. And that's okay.

Even the "villain(s)" in the book aren't 100% detestable. Just like normal people, they have redeeming qualities even at their worst, so we are forced to tolerate them. Just like normal people.

This one had me teary-eyed, although it doesn't take much to make me weepy over a book. Even more significant, though, is the fact that I stayed up until 1:00 AM to finish it. Definitely put it on your list.

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