Title: The Summer Guests
Author: Mary Alice Monroe
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: June 11, 2019
Page Count: 368
My rating: 3 stars
About the book:
From the New York Times bestselling author of the Beach House series comes a heartwarming and evocative novel about the bonds and new beginnings that are born from natural disasters and how, even during the worst of circumstances—or perhaps because of them—we discover what is most important in life.
Late August is a beautiful time on the Southern coast—the peach trees are ripe, the ocean is warm, and the sweet tea is icy. A perfect time to enjoy the rocking chairs on the porch. But beneath the calm surface bubbles a threat: it’s also peak hurricane season.
When a hurricane threatens the coasts of Florida and South Carolina, an eclectic group of evacuees flees for the farm of their friends Grace and Charles Phillips in North Carolina: the Phillips’s daughter Moira and her rescue dogs, famed equestrian Javier Angel de la Cruz, makeup artist Hannah McLain, horse breeder Gerda Klug and her daughter Elise, and island resident Cara Rutledge. They bring with them only the few treasured possessions they can fit in their vehicles. Strangers to all but the Phillips, they must ride out the storm together.
During the course of one of the most challenging weeks of their lives, relationships are put to the test as the evacuees are forced to confront the unresolved issues they have with themselves and with each other. But as the storm passes, they realize that what really matters isn’t what they brought with them to the mountains. Rather, it’s what they’ll take with them once they leave.
With Mary Alice Monroe’s “usual resplendent storytelling” (Patti Callahan Henry, New York Times bestselling author), The Summer Guests is a poignant and compelling story of self-discovery, love, and redemption.
Being from Indiana we are right in the middle of tornado country where you basically just cross your fingers or pray tornadoes don’t pop up or if they do they don’t do too much damage. Hurricanes aren’t something that happens where I am however I have had a couple of close vacation calls with Sandy and Matthew down in Florida so I couldn’t help but be curious when a storm is at the heart of this story.
The Summer Guests by Mary Alice Monroe is a women’s fiction or chick lit read that focuses on several characters who need to escape the path of an oncoming hurricane. But, not only do these people need shelter for the storm they also need a place to transport their animals where they will be safe so Grace and Charles Phillips who live in North Carolina have opened up their farm to these friends and strangers alike along with their horses.
This novel actually started out rather strong in my opinion with some great tension from the impending hurricane and slowly starting to introduce the various characters involved. However, the further and further I got into the story the more danger there suddenly was of it completely losing hold of my attention. I guess I expected more from the storm than there was but honestly I think there just may have been a few too many characters to keep track of when the second half turned toward more personal drama. Maybe it was me but more depth put into a few choice characters with life alternating decisions would I believe make it much more engaging than trying to spread out so much between so many. By the end I just felt this one was so-so or just OK.
I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.
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About the author:
New York Times bestselling author Mary Alice Monroe found her true calling in environmental fiction when she moved to coastal South Carolina. Already a successful author, she was captivated by the beauty and fragility of her new home. Her experiences living in the midst of a habitat that was quickly changing gave her a strong and important focus for her novels.
Monroe is the New York Times bestselling author of 22 novels, published worldwide, and the author of two children’s picture books. She writes richly textured stories that delve into the complexities of interpersonal relationships and the parallels between the land and life.
Monroe has achieved many lists, including the New York Times, USA Today and SIBA and starred reviews. She has received numerous awards, including several Readers’ Choice Awards, RT Lifetime Achievement Award, the Girls Scouts of America Woman of Distinction Award, the 2008 South Carolina Center for the Book Award for Writing and was featured at the National Festival of the Book, the 2008 International Book Award for Green Fiction for The Butterfly’s Daughter, the 2015 Florida Book Festival Distinguished Author Award, and the ASPCA Henry Bergh award for Children’s Fiction. Monroe’s A Lowcountry Christmas won the 2017 Southern Prize for Fiction. Her novel, The Beach House, was adapted into a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie starring three-time Golden Globe nominee Andie MacDowell, Minka Kelly, and Chad Michael Murray. In 2018 Mary Alice Monroe was inducted into the South Carolina Literary Hall of Fame.
Mary Alice is an active conservationist and serves on the Board of the South Carolina Aquarium and The Leatherback Trust. She is a frequent speaker at book festivals, conferences, and private events. Monroe is also a frequent contributor to magazines and online blogs.
Mary Alice Monroe is published by Gallery Books and Aladdin Books, Simon & Schuster. Her agent is Faye Bender of The Book Group.
Monroe lives with her family on Isle of Palms, a barrier island off Charleston, South Carolina. For additional information, go to http://www.maryalicemonroe.com.