Monday, May 13, 2013

Book Review: Beach House Memories

Beach House MemoriesAuthor: Mary Alice Monroe
Publication Date: April 9, 2013 (Paperback)
Publisher: Gallery Books

Autumn brings haunting beauty to the sun-soaked dunes on Isle of Palms, where Olivia “Lovie” Rutledge lives in her beloved Primrose Cottage. As the seasons change, Lovie remembers one special summer. . . . In 1974, America is changing, but Charleston remains eternally the same. When Lovie married aristocratic, well-connected businessman Stratton Rutledge, she turned over her fortune and fate to his control. But she refused to relinquish one thing: her family’s old seaside cottage. Precious summers with her children on the barrier island are Lovie’s refuge from social expectations and her overbearing husband’s philandering. Here, she is the “Turtle Lady,” tending the loggerhead turtles that lay their eggs in the warm night sand and then slip back into the sea.

Then, in the summer of ’74, biologist Russell Bennett visits to research the loggerheads. Their shared interest brings them together, and soon it blooms into a passionate, profound love—forcing Lovie to face an agonizing decision. Stratton’s influence is far-reaching, and if she dares to dream beyond a summer affair, she risks losing her reputation, her wealth, even her children.

This emotional tale of a strong woman torn between duty and desire, between tradition and change, is an empowering journey through the seasons of self-discovery. Until this autumn, this time of winds and tides, of holding on and letting go. . .

Lovie Rutledge believed memories were like the tides. Sometimes they rushed in with a pounding roar to topple you over. At other times they gently washed over you, lulling you to complacency and then tugging you back to halcyon days that, with the passing of years, seemed ever sweeter.

Lovie understood that she’d been pulled toward her fate as surely as the tides were pulled by the moon.

Her mama had told her again and again that “the woman was at the heart of every home.”

The beach house had become not only a beloved place but also a symbol of freedom.

The fridge always held a pitcher of sweet tea and the cookie jar was filled with sugar cookies.

Island time is a state of mind. For some it means a slowing of pace from the hurried, punctual grind of the city, the abandonment of routines, schedules, appointments.

Olivia “Lovie” Rutledge knows what it means to be the perfect homemaker, mom, and all around Southern wife. She was raised to put her husband’s values, successes, and prospects before her own. Now that she is nearing the middle of her life, she is starting to realize just how unsatisfactory her own life really is. With an unappreciative husband, two kids to care for, and a mother who is constantly telling her how to raise those kids and how to be the perfect wife, Lovie decides she needs a break. The one place that she can always find solace and tranquility is Primrose Cottage, a beach house that has belonged to her family for years. This is where she and her family spend every summer and where she can truly be herself. In the summer of 1974, however, Lovie doesn’t expect to fall in love for the first time.

Mary Alice Monroe is a credit to romantic writing and the beautiful beaches of South Carolina. She paints this amazing picture of love, loss, and a fulfillment. Her writing instantly transported me to the beaches at the Isle of Palms, which my family travels to often, and I was mesmerized by how much I genuinely could picture every scene she described. The setting and Lovie’s work with the turtles on the beaches were enough to read this book, and surely are enough for me to recommend it. Lovie is invested in her time spent at Primrose Cottage and her research with the Loggerhead Turtles becomes extensive and detailed as well. This book just embodies a very cozy, beachy feel and would a perfect summer read.

I cried. End of sentence and period. This book told a beautiful love story, but sad to say the ending was not what I would call “happy.” This was a realistic retelling of true love and the decisions that people make every day for the betterment of their families and in order to save their marriages. Even though I cannot stand Lovie’s husband, especially by the end of the book, and I really didn’t care for how Lovie ended her story, but I could understand where she was coming from.

***A copy of this book was provided by Gallery Books in exchange for my honest review**

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