Cara Rutledge left her southern home many years ago and made a life of her own. In Chicago, her career is her life. But when her mother asks her to come home just as she loses her job and her life starts to fall apart, she reluctantly decides to make the trip back to her family's beach house in Isle of Palms, South Carolina.
In The Beach House by Mary Alice Monroe, Cara learns that her mother, Lovie, is dying of cancer, unlikely to make it much past the summer. They try to reconnect, but the past is hard to overcome at times. Misunderstandings about the past and her mother's intentions have clouded their relationship, and it takes a lot for them to open up to each other.
I really enjoyed this beach read. While Lovie is dying of cancer, I didn't find the story to be depressing or overwhelmingly sad. She accepts her fate and the author doesn't dwell on her suffering at all. The story of Lovie and Cara is offset with other storylines involving a pregnant teen who is living with Lovie as a caretaker, Cara's childhood friend who is having marriage trouble, and a romance for Cara. Themes of abuse, both physical and verbal, are woven into the novel as well.
There is also a great deal of information about the sea turtles who return to the beaches along the east coast every year to lay their eggs. This actually serves as a sort of rift between Cara and her mother, who is a "turtle lady," responsible for protecting the turtles and their eggs. Cara always felt her mother spent more time worrying about the turtles than about her.
We read The Beach House for book club and although we did have some topics to discuss, it's definitely not as deep as most of our selections. I think it serves better as an easy beach read. The setting and the emphasis on the sea turtles evoke a relaxing, summery feeling.
My Rating: 4/5
This review was written based on a copy of The Beach House that I borrowed from my mother.