Monday, August 22, 2011

Review: The Beach House by Mary Alice Monroe

From Goodreads:

Caretta Rutledge thought she’d left her Southern roots and troubled family far behind. But an unusual request from her mother coming just as her own life is spinning out of control has Cara heading back to the scenic Lowcountry of her childhood summers. Before long, the rhythms of the island open her heart in wonderful ways as she repairs the family beach house, becomes a bona fide “turtle lady” and renews old acquaintances long thought lost. But it is in reconnecting with her mother that she will learn life’s most precious lessons true love involves sacrifice, family is forever and the mistakes of the past can be forgiven.
From Misty:

I'd like to give this 3.5 stars. No, 3.75 stars. I liked it, but I think I kept expecting it to be something it wasn't and I never did really connect to the main characters, and in fact spent the first 95 percent of the book disliking Olivia. I listened to The Beach House as an audio book, and while the narration was good (it said it was narrated by the author), for some reason, I think I would have liked it better if I had read it myself. Book in hand. My reading chair. Soda and chocolate.
The Beach House is a coming home, finding your lost self kind of story. Cara left home at 18 after her controlling father beat her and her mother, Olivia, stood by and let him do it. As if she could have stopped him, but Cara thinks she should have tried. Cara's brother is turning out like their father, and her mother is dying from cancer.
I know people dying from cancer happens, but I basically rolled my eyes when that's what Olivia was dying from. It's so insensitive of me to say cancer is cliche...but it is, and that kind of set me against liking the book for a few hours (that's about 6-8 chapters).  So I'm a grudge holder.  Now you know.  The turtles kind of annoyed me too, especially the factoids at the beginning of the chapters (not so much that they were there, but that they seemed arbitrary and unrelated to the text to follow).
Anyway, basically what happens is Cara goes home for the summer, makes up with her mom before she dies, and hooks up with an old high school acquaintance.  Very common themes in contemporary fiction, so nothing new there. But Mary's voice was fresh and clear and I enjoyed the story overall.

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