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Avoiding the beaches in the age of COVID? You can still splurge on beach reads in your backyard oasis
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CHARLESTON, S.C. - No one knows books and gives better recommendations than librarians. That's one of our favorite things to do, and we spend a lot of time researching and reading new books and old ones to keep our recommendations fresh.
Summer is here, but unfortunately, many of us can’t get away due to the pandemic. Maya Hollinshead at Wando Mount Pleasant Library put together a Beach Reads book list that will have you travel to the beach – by reading! Her definition of a beach read is a book written by an author – usually a woman – whose stories are set at the beach. Many of them have romance or some type of family drama involved.
“I would like to feature some authors that some may know well, and some that are not as known. I hope the reader is able to find the perfect read that will help ease those summer blues,” she said.
Check it out!
Her latest book is On Ocean Boulevard, which is a part of the Beach House series. It’s been sixteen years since Caretta “Cara” Rutledge has returned home to the beautiful shores of Charleston, South Carolina. Over those years, she has weathered the tides of deaths and births, struggles and joys. And now, as Cara prepares for her second wedding, her life is about to change yet again Meanwhile, the rest of the storied Rutledge family is also in flux. Cara’s niece Linnea returns to Sullivan’s Island to begin a new career and an unexpected relationship. Linnea’s parents, having survived bankruptcy, pin their hopes and futures on the construction of a new home on Ocean Boulevard. But as excitement over the house and wedding builds, a devastating illness strikes the family and brings plans to a screeching halt. It is under these trying circumstances that the Rutledge family must come together yet again to discover the enduring strength in love, tradition, and legacy from mother to daughter to granddaughter. Like the sea turtles that come ashore annually on these windswept islands, three generations of the Rutledge family experience a season of return, rebirth, and growth.
On her website, she’s known as the “Queen of the Beach Reads”. Her latest book is called Hello Summer. Conley Hawkins left her family’s small town newspaper, The Silver Bay Beacon, in the rear view mirror years ago. Now, after ten years of blood, sweat, and tears, Conley is exactly where she wants to be and is about to take a fancy new position at a New York City newspaper. That is, until she discovers at her own going away party that her new job is suddenly gone, disappearing overnight along with her hopes and dreams of a bright future in a big city. Dread in her heart and a sinking feeling in her gut, Conley ends up in the last place she ever wanted to be: The Beacon, now reluctantly run by her brother Garret whose own dreams of. being a lawyer were put on hold with the death of their father. Covering a sleepy beach town with church news and the local funeral home director dictating the day’s obituaries to her over the phone isn’t exactly every reporter’s dream, and to make matters worse, she and her brother see eye to eye on almost nothing. Matters come to a head after Conley witnesses a car accident that ends in the death of a local politician – a beloved war hero with a secret shady history whose death may not be exactly what it seems.
Elin is one of my personal favorites. Most of her novels are based out of her beloved Nantucket. Her latest book is 28 Summers. When Mallory Blessing’s son, Link, receives deathbed instructions from his mother to call a number on a slip of paper in her desk drawer, he’s not sure what to expect. But he certainly does not expect Jake McCloud to answer. It’s the late spring of 2020 and Jake’s wife, Ursula DeGournsey, is the frontrunner in the upcoming Presidential election. There must be a mistake, Link thinks. How do Mallory and Jake know each other? Flash back to the sweet summer of 1993: Mallory has just inherited a beachfront cottage on Nantucket from her aunt, and she agrees to host her brother’s bachelor party. Cooper’s friend from college, Jake McCloud, attends, and Jake and Mallory form a bond that will persevere — through marriage, children, and Ursula’s stratospheric political rise — until Mallory learns she’s dying. Based on the classic film Same Time Next Year (which Mallory and Jake watch every summer), 28 Summers explores the agony and romance of a one-weekend-per-year affair and the dramatic ways this relationship complicates and enriches their lives, and the lives of the people they love.
Nancy is another author that based her books in Nantucket. Her latest one is Girls of Summer. Lisa Hudson feels more alive than she has in a long time after hiring hunky carpenter Mack Whitney to renovate her old Nantucket home. There’s no denying the spark growing between them–despite the fact that Mack is ten years her junior. But her twentysomething children, Juliet and Theo, on the island for the summer, worry that the new relationship will only lead to Lisa’s heartbreak. Yet Juliet and Theo are in for tangled love stories all their own. When dreamy Ryder Hastings moves to the island to pursue a new environmental venture, Juliet feels an unwelcome attraction, her rocky romantic history pushing her to steer clear of love. Theo only has eyes for Mack’s daughter, Beth, with whom he was bound by an unspeakable tragedy in high school–but can they overcome their past? By August, when an impending storm threatens to shatter the peace of the golden island, everyone discovers what they can and cannot control.
The Favorite Daughter by Patti Callahan Henry
Most of Patti’s books are based on the beach in the fictional town of Watersend, SC, but has recently decided to expand into historical fiction. Her latest beach read is The Favorite Daughter, which came out last summer. Ten years ago, Lena Donohue experienced a wedding-day betrayal so painful that she fled the small town of Watersend, South Carolina, and reinvented herself in New York City. Though now a freelance travel writer, the one place she rarely goes is home—until she learns of her dad’s failing health. Returning to Watersend means seeing the sister she has avoided for a decade and the brother who runs the family’s Irish pub and has borne the burden of his sisters’ rift. While Alzheimer’s slowly steals their father’s memories, the siblings rush to preserve his life in stories and in photographs. As his secret past brings Lena’s own childhood into focus, it sends her on a journey to discover the true meaning of home.
Feels Like Falling by Kristy Woodson Harvey
Kristy is fairly new to the beach reads scene. She doesn’t have many books at some of the other authors, but I’m sure you will find a great read from her. All of her books are based in the fictional beach town of Peachtree Bluff, NC. Her latest book is Feels Like Falling. It’s summertime on the North Carolina coast and the livin’ is easy. Unless, that is, you’ve just lost your mother to cancer, your sister to her evangelical husband, and your husband to his executive assistant. Meet Gray Howard. Right when Gray could use a serious infusion of good karma in her life, she inadvertently gets a stranger fired from her job at the local pharmacy. Diana Harrington’s summer isn’t off to the greatest start either: Hours before losing her job, she broke up with her boyfriend and moved out of their shared house with only a busted Impala for a bed. Lucky for her, Gray has an empty guest house and a very guilty conscience. With Gray’s kindness, Diana’s tide begins to turn, but when the one that got away comes back, every secret from her past seems to resurface all at once. And, as Gray begins to blaze a new trail, she discovers, with Diana’s help, that what she envisioned as her perfect life may not be what she wants at all.
Summer Longing by Jamie Brenner
Another new author whose books are set on the beach. But unlike some of the other authors mentioned, her books are based in different beach towns. Her latest book is Summer Longing. Ruth Cooperman arrives in beautiful beachside Provincetown for her retirement, renting the perfect waterfront cottage while she searches for her forever home. After years of hard work and making peace with life's disappointments, Ruth is looking forward to a carefree summer of solitude. But when she finds a baby girl abandoned on her doorstep, Ruth turns to her new neighbors for help and is drawn into the drama of the close-knit community. The appearance of the mystery baby has an emotional ripple effect through the women in town, including Amelia Cabral, the matriarch who lost her own child decades earlier; Elise Douglas, owner of the tea shop who gave up her dream of becoming a mother; and teenage local Jaci Barros who feels trapped by her parents' expectations. Ruth, caring for a baby for the first time in thirty years, finally reaches out to her own estranged daughter, Olivia, summoning her to Provincetown in hopes of a reconciliation. As summer unfolds and friends and family care for the infant, alliances are made, relationships are tested, and secrets are uncovered. But the unconditional love for a child in need just might bring Ruth and the women of Provincetown exactly what they have been longing for themselves.
All Our Summers by Holly Chamberland
With Holly, we’re going up north. Way up north. Most of her books are based in Maine, with some based in a town called Yorktide. Her latest book is All Our Summers. It came as no surprise to anyone in Yorktide when glamorous Carol Ascher fled the little Maine town for New York City. While Carol found success as an interior designer, her younger sister, Bonnie, stayed behind, embracing marriage and motherhood. She even agreed to take in Carol’s teenage daughter during a tumultuous patch. Now both their girls are grown and Bonnie, recently widowed, is anticipating the day she’ll retire to Ferndean House, the nineteenth-century family home on the rocky Maine coast. But forty-five years after leaving Yorktide, Carol suddenly announces that she’s moving back—into Ferndean. Bonnie is indignant. She’s the one who kept the homestead in order and tended to their dying mother. Now Carol expects to simply buy her out? As far as Bonnie is concerned, Ferndean is part of their heritage—not just another of Carol’s improvement projects, to be torn apart and remade according to her whim. The entire Ascher family is in flux, uncovering secrets that upend their relationships. Carol’s longing to be welcomed home is fueled by a painful truth she’s carried for years. It will take an extraordinary summer—in a remarkable place—to lead these women back to each other, buoyed by the tides of friendship and forgiveness.
Last, but certainly not least, is Dorothea Benton Frank. As we all know, Dottie passed away last September. But she left us with a great catalog of beach reads that we can all enjoy! Her last book was Queen Bee, the last book in her Lowcountry Tails series. Beekeeper Holly McNee Jensen quietly lives in a world of her own on Sullivans Island, tending her hives and working at the local island library. Holly calls her mother The Queen Bee because she’s a demanding hulk of a woman. Her mother, a devoted hypochondriac, might be unaware that she’s quite ill but that doesn’t stop her from tormenting Holly. To escape the drama, Holly’s sister Leslie married and moved away, wanting little to do with island life. Holly’s escape is to submerge herself in the lives of the two young boys next door and their widowed father, Archie. Her world is upended when the more flamboyant Leslie returns and both sisters, polar opposites, fixate on what’s happening in their neighbor’s home. Is Archie really in love with that awful ice queen of a woman? If Archie marries her, what will become of his little boys? Restless Leslie is desperate for validation after her imploded marriage, squandering her favors on any and all takers. Their mother ups her game in an uproarious and theatrical downward spiral. Scandalized Holly is talking to her honey bees a mile a minute, as though they’ll give her a solution to all the chaos. Maybe they will.