Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Beach House for Rent by Mary Alice Monroe

The fourth book in Mary Alice Monroe's Beach House series can be read as a standalone. Yes, it's more interesting if readers know the background of Cara Rutledge's family, but Primrose is a cottage that welcomes newcomers. That's why there's a Beach House for Rent.

Cara Rutledge may have some money problems, but she's not about to let her brother, Palmer, push her into selling the Isle of Palms beach house that has been owned for eighty-five years by the women in her family. This house held the family memories. It was where their mother, "Miss Lovie", the island's first "turtle lady", had escaped, found and lost love, and went on with life. Cara sees herself as a survivor, and the cottage represents survival and healing.

Even though Palmer wanted her to sell Primrose, he finds a tenant for the entire summer. Heather Wyatt's newly married father rents it for her. Heather is a gifted illustrator with a commission to paint shorebirds of the Atlantic coast for postage stamps. Although she was always shy, Heather's social anxiety grew worse after a car accident. Now, she's afraid to talk to strangers, or even open the beach house to the world. It takes a special man to see Heather's possibilities, and Bo Stanton, a man who sees the possibilities in wood, is the Lowcountry man who slowly talks Heather into the world. Just as they are making progress, Cara loses the love of her life. When she wants to return to Primrose to heal, Heather refuses to give up the house that has become more than a refuge.

As in her other books, Mary Alice Monroe evokes a special place, bringing Isle of Palms to life through its shorebirds and turtles. They're as endangered as the women in her book, at risk for survival. Survival and the need to go on, to deal with the world, is key in Monroe's environment. I've seen Monroe's work referred to as environmental fiction or nature fiction. Whichever way you want to think of it, it's writing that shows the importance of a respect for nature in the healing process. The women in the Beach House books would not be the appreciative, caring women they are if they also didn't learn to care about nature. Monroe offers a gift to readers with her evocative stories that bring the South Carolina Lowcountry to life. Beach House for Rent is more than a story of a house. It's the story of women and the beach life that need the shelter of the island to survive.

Mary Alice Monroe's website is www.maryalicemonroe.com

Beach House for Rent by Mary Alice Monroe. Gallery Books. 2017. ISBN 9781501125461 (hardcover), 416p.

FTC Full Disclosure - I received a copy of the book to review for a journal.

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