cover image Beach House Memories

Beach House Memories

Mary Alice Monroe. S&S/Gallery, $26 (400p) ISBN 978-1-4391-7066-3

In this sequel to 2002's The Beach House, Southern writer Monroe revisits South Carolina Lowcountry with another domestic tale built around the protection of sea turtles. At the end of her life, Olivia "Lovie" Rutledge looks back on the woman she was in 1974, revisiting her troubled marriage and her beloved Isle of Palms summer home, where a fascination with loggerhead turtles becomes the catalyst for changing her life. While Monroe adeptly captures the lives of women raised in the conservative South before the impact of the woman's movement and the sexual revolution, sentimentality and predictability dilute this potentially powerful story of love and redemption. Lovie and her abusive husband, Stratton, both come from strong Southern families with names reaching back into American history, but Stratton's cruelty maroons Lovie in an unhappy marriage with two beloved young children. Enter handsome Russell Bennett, hired to evaluate the environmental impact of pending real estate developments on local sea turtle conservation efforts, and the proverbial sparks fly. Lovie soon blossoms into a respected turtle expert, as well as the strong, intelligent, sexual woman she was meant to be, and their ensuing affair is no surprise. Monroe's personal experience as a board member of the Leatherback Trust and involvement with the Isle of Palms/Sullivan Island Turtle Team brings authenticity and a sense of wonder to the plight of the endangered sea turtles and their miraculous capacity for survival. (May)