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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Last Light Over Carolina by Mary Alice Monroe (Book Review)


Title: Last Light over Carolina
Author: Mary Alice Monroe
Publisher: Pocket Books

First sentence: For three generations, the pull of the tides drew Morrison men to the sea.

My thoughts: On the surface, this is just a story of a shrimping family and what happened the day the boat, along with it's captain, did not return home. Underneath that surface is quite another story. Not only is it a story of a marriage and how it has changed and weathered storms over the years, but it is also the story of a small town - a town which has also changed and weathered storms.

Even though the story is set in the present, it tells the story of Bud and Carolina, as well as the town and the shrimping business in flashbacks over the last 35 years or so. These flashbacks are told from each characters perspective - Bud, Carolina, Lizzy (their daughter), Josh (their ex-son-in-law) and I would even include the town of McClellanville as a character in this story. These flashbacks are interspersed with what is happening in their lives the day Miss Carolina goes missing.

When Bud and Carolina first met, they knew that they were destined to be together. They were engaged within six months, against Carolina's parent's wishes. For the first years of their marriage, Carolina worked side by side with Bud on his shrimping boat, Miss Ann. This boat had been given to him by his father whose side he had worked by growing up. Even though Carolina had grown up in much different circumstances, she never felt more safe or at home as when she was at sea with her husband.

When she got pregnant with Lizzy, she realized that the dangers the boat held were too many for a pregnant woman. The first day that she stood on the dock and watched as the boat left without her was devastating. As she grew accustomed to becoming a shrimper's wife and not his deckhand, she also felt that she was losing the closeness that she had once had with Bud. Now Lizzy was grown and had married and divorced a shrimper with whom she shared a son. As Carolina's marriage had begun to dissolve, so had the economy of McClellanville and the shrimping business. It was like a catch-22. The worse the economy, the more hours Bud needed to work to provide for his family. The more he was away, the worse his marriage and relationship with Carolina became.

On the day that Bud decided to take his boat out alone, now the Miss Carolina, a boat he had built, everybody seemed to have a sense of foreboding. This story tells how people realize what is really important in life and that life is truly a gift. How they come to this realization is what the story is truly about.

From the book cover: With a warm voice that brings the South to life, New York Times bestselling author Mary Alice Monroe writes richly textured novels that intimately portray the complex and emotional relationships shared among family, friends, and the natural world. Here, in Last Light Over Carolina, Monroe tells the haunting and touching story of a longtime shrimp boat captain and his wife of thirty years the day he is injured at sea.

On an otherwise ordinary day, in a small shrimping village off the coast of South Carolina, a boat goes missing. The entire town rallies as all are mobilized to find the lost vessel. Throughout the course of one day, flashbacks of Bud Morrison, the captain on board, and Carolina, his wife, reveal the happier days of a once-thriving shrimping industry juxtaposed with the memories of their long term marriage.

Through her wonderfully evocative storytelling and keen insights into the human heart, Mary Alice Monroe has yet again delivered an exceptional and engaging work of fiction.


About the author: Mary Alice Monroe is the New York Times bestselling author of eleven novels including Time Is a River, Sweetgrass, Skyward, The Beach House, The Four Seasons, and The Book Club. She is an active conservationist and lives in the low country of South Carolina.

Read the first chapter of Last Light over Carolina.

Last Light over Carolina
Publisher/Publication Date: Pocket Books, July 14, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-4165-4970-3
384 pages




Be sure to visit these other wonderful sites for other perspectives on Last Light over Carolina:

All About {n}
Bookin’ with “BINGO”
My Guilty Pleasures
Just Jennifer Reading
Chick With Books
Bella’s Novella
Books and Needlepoint
Booksie’s Blog
Beth Fish Reads
Medieval Bookworm
Living Life and Reading Books
Book N Around
The Eclectic Book Hoarder
Pick of the Literate
A Book Bloggers Diary
My Friend Amy
The Tome Traveller’s Weblog
Gaijin Mama
Blog Business World
ScarpettaJunkie’s Blog
Frugal Plus
Carolina Gal’s Literary CafĂ©
This Book For Free
Marta’s Meanderings

3 comments:

bermudaonion said...

I just loved this book. I lent my copy to a dear friend yesterday and told her she had to read it. I can't wait to see what she thinks.

Sheila Deeth said...

Lovely first sentence. Sounds a lovely book.

Anna said...

I've heard such good things about this book. I'll have to check it out.

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

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