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The Summer Wind
Table of Contents
About The Book
It’s midsummer and Eudora, nicknamed Dora, is staying at Sea Breeze, the family’s ancestral home on Sullivan’s Island. For years, Dora has played the role of the perfect wife and mother in a loveless marriage. Now her husband filed for divorce, her child is diagnosed with autism, and her house is on the market. Dora’s facade collapses under the weight of her grief and she suffers “broken heart syndrome.” Mamaw and the girls rally around Dora—but it’s up to Dora to heal herself as she spends the summer prowling the beach, discovering the secrets of the island and her heart. This is a summer of discovery for all the women of Sea Breeze. Carson returns from Florida to face life-changing decisions, Lucille confronts a health scare, and an unexpected visitor has Harper reconsidering her life’s direction.
When tropical storm winds batter the island, the women must band together and weather the tempest—both the one outside their windows and the raging sea of emotions within each of them. They must learn again what it means to be a sister. It is up to Mamaw to keep the light burning at Sea Breeze to guide the girls through the lies, the threats, and the rocky waters of indecision to home.
Sea Breeze, Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina
July was said to be the hottest month of the year in Charleston, and after enduring eighty Southern summers, Marietta Muir, or Mamaw, as her family affectionately called her, readily agreed. She delicately dabbed at her upper lip and forehead with her handkerchief, then waved to shoo off a pesky mosquito. Southern summers meant heat, humidity, and bugs. But being out on Sullivan’s Island, sitting in the shade of a live oak tree, sipping iced tea, and waiting for the occasional offshore breeze was, for her, the very definition of summer. She sighed heavily. The ancient oak spread its mighty limbs so far and wide, Marietta felt cradled in its protective embrace. Still, the air was especially languid this morning, so thick and cloyingly scented with jasmine that it was a battle to keep her eyelids from drooping. A gust of wind from the ocean carried the sweet scent of the grass and cooled the moist hairs along her neck.
She set the needlepoint pattern on her lap to remove her glasses and rub her eyes. Cursed old age. It was getting harder and harder to see her stitches, she thought with a sigh. Glancing at Lucille beside her on the screened porch of the guesthouse that Lucille called home, she saw her friend bent over the base of a sweetgrass basket, her strong hands weaving the fragile strands into the pattern, sewing each row tight with palmetto fronds. A small pile of the grass lay in her lap, while a generous heap sat at her feet in a plastic bag, along with another bag of long-leaf pine needles.
Seeing her longtime companion’s hands lovingly weaving together the disparate grasses into an object of beauty made Marietta think again how imperative her challenge was this summer: to entwine her three very different granddaughters with Sea Breeze once again. Her summer girls.
Mamaw sighed softly to herself. They were hardly girls any longer. Dora was thirty-six, Carson thirty-three, and Harper twenty-eight—women now. Back when they were young girls and spent summers together they had been close, as sisters should be. Over the years, however, they’d become more strangers than sisters. Half-sisters, Marietta corrected herself, shuddering at the nuance of the term. As if by only sharing a father, the women’s bond was somehow less. Sisters were sisters and blood was blood, after all. She had succeeded in corralling all three women to Sea Breeze in June for the summer, but here it was, only early July, and Carson was already off to Florida while Dora was fixing on returning to Summerville. And Harper . . . that New Yorker had her sights set north.
“I wonder if Carson made it to Florida yet,” Lucille said without looking up. Her fingers moved steadily, weaving row after row.
Mamaw half smiled, thinking how Lucille’s mind and her own were in sync . . . again. Lucille had been hired as her housekeeper some fifty years back, when Marietta was a young bride in Charleston. They’d shared a lifetime of ups and downs, births, deaths, scandals, and joys. Now that they were old women, Lucille had become more a confidante than an employee. Truth was, Lucille was her closest friend.
“I was just wondering the same thing,” Mamaw replied. “I expect she has by now and is just settling in to her hotel. I hope she won’t be away long.”
“She won’t be. Carson knows how important this summer is to you, and she’ll be back just as soon as she finds out what’s done happened to that dolphin,” Lucille said. She lowered her basket to her lap and looked Mamaw straight in the eyes. “Carson won’t disappoint you. You have to have faith.”
“I do,” Mamaw exclaimed defensively. “But I’m old enough to know how life likes to throw a wrench into even the most well thought out plans. I mean, really,” Mamaw said, lifting her hands in frustration. “Who could have foreseen a dolphin tossing all my summer plans applecart-upset?”
Lucille chuckled, a deep and throaty sound. “Yes, she surely did. That Delphine . . .” Lucille’s smile slipped at the sound of the dolphin’s name. “But it weren’t her fault, now was it? I do hope that place in Florida can help the poor thing.”
“I do, too. For Delphine’s sake, and for Carson’s.” She paused. “And Nate’s.” She was worried about how hard Dora’s son had taken the dolphin’s accident. Only a young boy, he had put the blame on himself for luring the dolphin to their dock and getting it entangled in all that fishing line. In truth, they were all to blame. No one more than herself.
“For all our sakes,” she amended.
“Amen,” Lucille agreed soberly. She paused to sweep bits of scattered grass to the wind. “Don’t you fret none, Miz Marietta. All will be well. I feel it in my bones. And in no time you’ll have all your summer girls here at Sea Breeze again.”
“Hi, Mamaw! Lucille!” A voice called out from the driveway, cutting through the two women’s conversation.
“Here comes one now,” Lucille murmured, returning to her basket.
Marietta turned her head and smiled to see her youngest granddaughter, Harper, jogging toward them in one of those skimpy, skintight running outfits that looked to Marietta like a second skin. Her red hair was pulled back in a ponytail, and sweat poured down her pink face.
“Harper!” Marietta called out with a quick wave. “My goodness, child, you’re running at this time of the day? Only tourists are fool enough to run here under a midsummer sun. You’ll have a heat stroke! Why, your face is as red as a beet!”
Harper stopped at the bottom of the porch steps and bent over, hands on her hips, to catch her breath. “Oh, Mamaw, I’m fine,” she said breathily, wiping the sweat from her brow with her forearm. “I do this every day.”
“Well, you look about ready to keel over.”
“It is hot out there today,” Harper conceded with half a smile. “But my face always turns red. It’s my fair skin. I’ve got a ton of sunscreen on.”
Lucille clucked her tongue. “Mind you drink some water, hear?”
“Why don’t you jump in the pool and cool yourself down some? You look to be wearing a swimming suit . . .” Mamaw trailed off, fanning her face as she spoke. It made her hot just to see Harper’s pink face and the sweat drenching her clothing.
“Good idea,” Harper replied, and with a quick wave took off toward the front door. She turned her head and shouted, “Nice basket, Lucille!” before disappearing into the house.
Lucille chuckled and returned to her weaving. “Only the young can run like that.”
“I never ran like that when I was young!” Mamaw said.
“Me, neither. Who had the time?”
“No time, and certainly not dressed like that. What these girls parade around in today. That outfit left little to the imagination.”
“Oh, I bet the young men can imagine plenty,” Lucille said, chuckling again.
Mamaw huffed. “What young men? I simply cannot understand why she’s not getting any calls. I’ve seen to it that she was invited to a few parties in town where other young people would be present. There was that nice boating party at Sissy’s yacht club . . . Several eligible young men were invited.” Mamaw shook her head. “Harper is such a pretty girl, with good breeding.” She paused. “Even if her mother is English.” Mamaw picked up her needlepoint and added archly, “Her father is from Charleston, after all.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t say she hasn’t been asked out . . .” Lucille said, feeding more grass into the basket.
Mamaw narrowed her eyes with suspicion. “You wouldn’t?”
Lucille’s eyes sparkled with knowledge. “I happen to know that since she’s been here, several young men have called our Miss Harper.”
“Really?” Mamaw fumed silently, wondering why she hadn’t been made aware of this. She didn’t like being the last to know things, certainly not about her own granddaughters. She reached for the Island Eye newspaper and used it to fan the air. “You’d think someone might’ve told me.”
Mamaw lowered the paper. “Well . . . why hasn’t she had any dates? Is she being shy?”
“Our Harper might be a quiet little thing, but she ain’t shy. That girl’s got a spine of steel. Just look at the way she won’t touch meat, or white bread, or anything I cook with bacon grease.”
Mamaw’s lips curved, recalling the row at the dinner table Harper’s first night at Sea Breeze. Dora was nearly driven to distraction by Harper’s strict diet.
“She’s only just been here a month,” Lucille continued. “And she’s only staying another two. She don’t have her light on, is all. And who can wonder? With all she got on her mind, I reckon dating a young man is low on her list.”
Mamaw rocked in silence. All Lucille had said was true enough. It seemed everyone had a lot on their minds this summer at Sea Breeze—she certainly did. The summer was flying by, and if she couldn’t find a way to forge bonds between her granddaughters, Mamaw knew that come September, Sea Breeze would be sold, the girls would scatter again, and she’d be sitting on the dock howling at the harvest moon.
The previous May, Mamaw had invited her three granddaughters—Dora, Carson, and Harper—to celebrate her eightieth birthday at Sea Breeze. She’d had, however, an ulterior motive. In the fall, Marietta was putting Sea Breeze on the market and moving into an assisted living facility. With the demands of an island house, she simply couldn’t keep up living alone any longer, not even with Lucille’s help. Her hope was that, once here, all three women would agree to stay for the entire summer. She wanted them to be her summer girls again—as they had been as children—for this final summer before Sea Breeze was sold.
Countless previous invitations of hers had been rebuffed by all the girls over the years, with just as many excuses—I’d love to but I’m so busy, I have work, I’ll be out of town—each sent with gushes of regret and replete with exclamation marks.
So this time, Mamaw had trusted that her granddaughters had inherited some of her ancestral pirate blood, and she’d lured the girls south with promises of loot from the house. And the little darlings had come, if only for the weekend party. Desperate to keep them on the island, Mamaw had resorted to a bit of manipulation when she’d threatened to cut them out of the will if they did not stay for the entire summer. She chortled out a laugh just remembering their shocked faces.
Carson had just lost her job and was pleased as punch to spend the summer rent-free on the island. Dora, in the midst of a divorce, was easily persuaded to stay at Sea Breeze with Nate while repairs were done on her house in Summerville. Harper, however, had thrown a hissy fit. She’d called it blackmail.
Mamaw shifted uncomfortably in her seat. Blackmail, really. Harper could be so dramatic, she thought as she rolled her eyes. Surely there was a more refined, gentler term for the actions of a concerned and loving grandmother set on bringing her granddaughters together? A smile of satisfaction played at her lips. And they’d all agreed to stay the summer, hadn’t they?
But now, only midsummer, and Carson had already left—though she promised to swiftly return—while Dora had one foot out the door.
Mamaw closed her eyes, welcoming another soothing ocean breeze. She couldn’t fail in her mission. Eighty years was a long time of living. She’d survived the loss of a husband and her only child. All she had left that mattered were these three precious jewels, her granddaughters. Mamaw’s hands tightened to fists. And come hell or high water—or hissy fits—she was going to give them this one perfect summer. Her most private fear was that when Sea Breeze was sold and she’d moved on to a retirement home, the fragile bond between the sisters would break and they’d scatter to the four winds like these bits of sweetgrass that fell loose from Lucille’s basket.
“Here comes another one,” Lucille said in a low voice, indicating with her chin the sight of Dora rounding the corner of the house.
Mamaw’s gaze swept over her eldest granddaughter with a critical eye. Dora was dressed in a khaki suit and a blouse the same pale yellow color as her hair. As Dora drew closer, Mamaw noted that she was wearing nylon stockings and pumps. In this heat! She could see pearls of perspiration already dripping down Dora’s face as she dragged a suitcase behind her through the gravel toward the silver Lexus parked in the driveway.
“Dora! Are you off?” Mamaw called out.
Dora stopped abruptly at hearing her name and turned her head toward the guesthouse.
“Hey, ladies,” she called out with a wave, upon seeing the two women sitting side by side on the front porch. “Yes,” she replied, pasting on a smile that didn’t quite meet her eyes. “I’ve got to dash if I’m going to get to my lawyer’s appointment on time. It’s going to be a long morning.”
Dora left her suitcase and came over to join them. “Look at you two, sitting there like two birds on a wire, chirping away the morning.” Dora stepped up onto the porch and into the shade.
Mamaw set her needlepoint aside and gave Dora her full attention, studying her eldest granddaughter’s face. Of all three women, Dora was the one who could best mask her emotions with false cheer. Had always done so, even as a child. On her wedding day, her father, Mamaw’s only child, Parker, had arrived at the church unforgivably drunk. Dora had smiled as she walked down the aisle with her stepfather instead of her biological one. She’d smiled through the whispers behind raised palms, smiled during Parker’s rambling toast, smiled while friends escorted Parker to the hotel to sleep it off.
Mamaw studied that same fixed smile now. She knew too well the sacrifices Dora had made to present the facade of a happy family. This divorce was striking at her very core, shaking her foundation. Yet, even now, it seemed Dora was intent on giving off the impression that she had everything under control.
“You look very . . . respectable,” Mamaw said, choosing her words carefully. “But isn’t it a bit steamy today for that suit and nylons?”
Dora lifted her blond hair from her neck, to allow the offshore breeze to cool the moisture pooling there. “Lord, yes. It’s so hot you could spit on the ground and watch it sizzle. But I’ve got to make the right impression in front of Cal’s lawyers.”
Bless her heart, Mamaw thought. That suit was so tight. Poor Dora looked like a sausage squeezed into its casings.
Dora dropped her hair and her face shifted to a scowl. “Calhoun’s being flat-out unreasonable.”
“We all knew when you married him that his elevator didn’t go all the way to the top.”
“He doesn’t have to be smart, Mamaw. Only his lawyer does. And I hear he’s got himself a real shark.”
“You called the Rosen law firm like I recommended, didn’t you?” Dora nodded. “Good,” Mamaw said. “Robert will catch that shark on his hook, don’t you worry.”
“I’ll try not to,” Dora replied, smoothing out wrinkles in her skirt. “I still want to set a good precedent, though.”
Mamaw reached up to the collar of her dress and unpinned her brooch. It was a favorite of hers. Small pieces of bright coral were embedded in gold to form an exquisite starburst. Her granddaughter needed a bit of starburst in her life right now.
“Come here, precious,” she said to Dora.
When Dora drew near, Mamaw waved her hand to indicate Dora should bend close, then she reached out to pin the large brooch to Dora’s suit collar.
“There,” she said, sitting back and gazing at her handiwork. “A little pop of color does wonders for you, my dear. The brooch was my mother’s. It’s yours now.”
Dora’s eyes widened as her stoic facade momentarily crumbled. She rushed to hug her grandmother with a desperate squeeze. “Oh, Mamaw, thank you. I didn’t expect . . . It means a lot. Especially today. I have to admit, I’m nervous about confronting Cal after all this time. And his lawyers.”
“Consider it ceremonial armor,” Mamaw replied with a smile.
“I will,” Dora replied, standing erect and smoothing out her jacket. “You know, I’m so tickled I can fit back into this suit. Between Carson not letting us have any alcohol in the house and Harper getting us to eat all that health food, I’ve actually lost a few pounds! Who would have thought?”
A genuine smile lit up Dora’s face, and Mamaw suddenly saw a flash of the dazzling young woman who once had enchanted all who met her with the warmth of that smile. Over the past ten years of an unhappy marriage and caring for a child with special needs, Dora had committed the cardinal sin of a Southern wife—she’d let herself go. But worst of all, her sadness had drained the sunlight from inside of her. Mamaw was glad to see a glimmer of it resurface in her eyes this morning.
“Is Nate going with you?” Lucille asked.
Dora shook her head and grimaced. “I’m afraid not. I just came from his room. I begged him to come with me, but you know Nate when he’s got his mind made up. He barely said more than one word—no. I don’t think he likes me very much right now,” Dora added in a softer tone. “It was like”—her voice choked with emotion—“like he couldn’t wait for me to leave.”
“Now, honey, don’t pay him no mind,” Mamaw said in a conciliatory tone. “You know that child’s still hurting from what happened to that dolphin. It was traumatic for him. For all of us,” she added.
“Carson should be calling with news about that dolphin soon,” Lucille said comfortingly.
“And I just know it will be good news,” Mamaw agreed, ever the optimist. “I’m sure Nate will come around then.”
“I hope so . . .” Dora replied, and hastily wiped her eyes, seemingly embarrassed for the tears.
Mamaw slid a glance to Lucille. It wasn’t like Dora to be so emotional. Dora checked her watch and gasped. “Lord, I’ve really got to go or I’ll be late,” she said, all business now. “Are you sure y’all can handle Nate while I’m gone? You know he can get squirrelly when I leave.”
“I feel sure that three grown women can handle one little boy. No matter how testy,” Mamaw said, arching one brow.
Lucille laughed quietly while her fingers worked the basket.
“Yes, of course,” Dora muttered, digging into her purse for car keys. “It’s just he is particularly difficult now, because he’s all upset about that dolphin, and that I’m going to see his father.”
Mamaw waved Dora off. “You go on and don’t worry about anything here. We’ll all be fine. You have enough to contend with getting your house ready for the market.”
Dora’s eyes narrowed at mention of the house. “Those workmen had better be there or I’ll raise holy hell.”
Mamaw and Lucille exchanged a glance. That was the Dora they knew. Pulling out her keys, Dora turned to go.
“Dora?” Mamaw called, stopping Dora as she made to leave. Dora stopped, turned her head, and met Mamaw’s gaze. “Mind you remember who you are. You’re a Muir. The captain of your own ship.” She sniffed and added, “Don’t you take any guff from the likes of Calhoun Tupper, hear?”
The brilliant Muir blue color flashed in Dora’s eyes. “Yes, ma’am,” she replied with heart, and straightened her shoulders.
The two old women watched Dora rush to her car, load the suitcase into the trunk, and roar out of the driveway, the wheels spitting gravel.
“Mmm-mmm-mm,” Lucille muttered as she returned to her basket weaving. “That woman’s hell-bent on taking her fury out on all the men in town today.”
Mamaw released the grin that had been playing at her lips all morning. “I don’t know who I feel more sorry for,” she said. “The workmen at the house, or Calhoun Tupper.”
Reading Group Guide
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The second book in Mary Alice Monroe’s Lowcountry Summer trilogy, The Summer Wind continues the story of three half-sisters and their grandmother experiencing the highs and lows of a poignant summer on Sullivan Island.
For Dora, the winds of change force her to cope with the aftermath of a messy divorce. Dora must let go of her facade of the perfect wife and mother and discover a renewed purpose before she can move on with her future. For Carson, the summer brings a road trip with her nephew that will change and heal them both. For Harper, a summer of self-reflection leads her to revealing the weight of the expectations placed on her as the heir to her family’s fortune.
As a rough island storm brews and a health crisis threatens a beloved member of the family, the summer girls’ bond strengthens—just as Mamaw had planned.
Topics & Questions for Discussion
1. Mamaw sometimes reflects on her sneaky methods—“blackmail,” Harper calls it—for keeping the girls together at Sea Breeze for the summer. Do you think she was right to use manipulation to get the girls to stay? In other words, do you think that a mother or grandmother's good intentions can justify her actions?
2. How do the girls’ relationships with one another change over the course of the novel? Take time to consider each of their one-on-one relationships, as well as the dynamic of the three of them together.
3. As Dora stands in her and Cal’s old house, she compares it both to herself—“She felt rather like this old house. . . . Beneath her ever-present smile, she was crumbling”—and to her and Cal’s marriage—“Everywhere she looked, Dora saw . . . that no amount of effort on her part could save it.” In what ways does Dora feel trapped in the house, and how is she able to free herself of it? On a separate but similar note, if the old house represents Dora’s marriage and unhappiness, what does Sea Breeze represent?
4. Which moment do you think was the bigger turning point for Dora—her “broken heart syndrome” stress cardiomyopathy attack, or her realization in the store dressing room after Harper’s outburst? What other major turning points does Dora encounter, and how do they affect her life and her relationships?
5. Dora’s role as Nate’s mother is not easy, but her sisters suspect she puts more pressure and strain on herself than she needs to. What does Dora discover about her relationship with Nate through allowing him to travel to Florida with Carson?
6. Though continually withdrawn due to his Asperger’s, Nate’s transformation from the sad, outburst-prone boy at the start of the novel to the more accepting, slightly more outgoing boy at the end is clear. What factors and events most contributed to this transformation? Do you think the change is temporary or permanent, and why?
7. What do you consider to be the main priorities of each summer girl—Carson, Dora, Harper? How, if at all, do you think their priorities change over the course of the novel?
8. Monroe's theme of humans and animals sharing a connection is evident in The Summer Wind. Consider Carson and Nate’s connection with Delphine, Cara’s connection with the sea-turtle hatchlings, and Taylor’s connections with Jax and Thor. How do these bonds affect their lives and the lives of those they love? Discuss ways in which you can develop your connection with animals and with nature.
9. Harper talks of the expectations placed on her as the heir to the Jameses’ fortune. How do you think those expectations have shaped the woman she has become?
10. What are the major differences between Dora’s relationship with Cal and her relationship with Devlin Cassell? What positives and negatives do you see for her in each relationship, and which would you encourage her to pursue? Why?
11. Consider the role that guilt plays in the novel. Which characters suffer from it, and why? Are all of the characters able to overcome their guilt? Or are there any characters left with guilty feelings at the end of this book?
12. The unearthing of the slave manacles is a poignant moment for the girls—and especially for Lucille. What do you think the manacles represent to her? What emotions do you imagine are stirred in her when she sees and holds them?
13. “We should never underestimate how important our loved ones are to us. Or how powerful one’s grief can be.” Mamaw’s words foreshadow the loss that is to come in the novel’s final pages. Lucille’s passing signifies the end of a long era at Sea Breeze; truly she had become a member of the family. Discuss Mamaw and Lucille’s long friendship, and the impact each woman had on the other’s life.
14. At the end of the novel, Carson is faced with a life-changing decision. Do you think she will decide to have her baby? Do you think she’ll repair her relationship with Blake? What are your predictions for her in the final novel of the Lowcountry Summer trilogy?
15. The theme of healing is dominant in this book, as Dora heals from "broken heart syndrome" and the dolphin Delphine heals from her injuries. Discuss the parallels of their healing: What do both Delphine and Dora have to let go of from their past? What must they find? What are the possibilities for their future? Are other characters undergoing healing in this book?
Enhance Your Book Club
1. On the very first page of the novel, we learn that “being out on Sullivan’s Island, sitting in the shade of a live oak tree, sipping iced tea, and waiting for the occasional offshore breeze” is Mamaw’s “very definition of summer.” What’s yours? Ask each member of your reading group to write down how they define summer on an index card, then take turns sharing the definitions out loud.
2. Carson’s best friends when she was a child were her books—“A Wrinkle in Time, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and anything by Judy Blume.” Have the members of your group bring their favorite childhood books along to share, and discuss the role reading played in your lives when you were younger.
3. The three summer girls were named after their father’s favorite Southern authors—Harper after Harper Lee, Carson after Carson McCullers, and Dora after Eudora Welty. Split your reading group into three teams, and give each of the teams one of these authors to research, asking them to consider what each author may have in common with her namesake.
4. In gardening, Dora and Harper find an activity that brings them closer together. Bring a bit of nature into your reading group: Purchase packets of seeds, small pots, and a bag of soil ahead of your reading group date, then let each member of your group plant their own mini-garden to take home with them.
5. If playing cards is more your speed, skip the gardening and go straight for discussing the novel over a game of gin rummy—in Mamaw’s honor and Lucille’s memory. Don’t know the rules, or need a quick refresher course? Check out http://www.bicyclecards.com/card-games/rule/gin-rummy.
6. Taylor, the former Marine Carson meets while in Florida, is a participant in the Wounded Warrior program—a program for which the real-life Joan Mehew won the Carry Forward Award in 2013. To learn more about the vision and purpose of the Wounded Warrior Project, visit http://sandbox.woundedwarriorproject.org.
7. To discover more about Mary Alice Monroe and her books, read her blog, view a list of her upcoming author appearances, and more, visit http://www.maryalicemonroe.com.
- Publisher: Gallery Books (June 17, 2014)
- Length: 384 pages
- ISBN13: 9781476709048
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Raves and Reviews
"It is hard to describe the beauty of Monroe's work.The words on the pages flow from the author's eyes to create a world of rareenchantment. Next, Monroe's brain assembles a plot that moves the charactersfrom one amazing event to another. Then from Monroe's heart comes the passionfor the story, one that is rich with love and depth.”
– Jackie K. Cooper, The Huffington Post
"This is the perfect summertime beach read."
– Maurice on Books, on The Summer Wind
"Pulls at your heartstrings."
– Posting for Now on The Summer Wind, 5-star review
"Monroe’s writing is as lean and elegant as the lovely young women who grace the beach... a cool, refreshing breeze of a read."
– Joan Leotta, Recipes for Success, on The Summer Wind
"Written with convincing Southern charm and thoughtfulness, The Summer Wind explores the bonds of sisterhood and the challenges of modern womanhood with warmth and genuine affection."
– Amy Garvey, Bookpage.com, on The Summer Wind
"Monroe’s writing is as lean and elegant as the lovely young women who grace the beach... a cool, refreshing breeze of a read."
– Joan Leotta, Recipes for Success, on The Summer Wind
"Mary Alice Monroe has a way with words when it comes to her characters and her locations. No other author has ever made me want to be sitting on the beach more."
– Charming Chelsey's on The Summer Wind
"Once you get to know the sisters and Mamaw, you’ll want to follow their lives beyond the summer, and the beach."
– Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan, The Herald Sun, on The Summer Wind
"The Summer Wind makes for an excellent beach read this summer."
– The Literary Housewife, on The Summer Wind
"Mary Alice Monroe has taken the rich waters of the
– New York Times bestselling author Pat Conroy
"The Summer Girls is more than just a beautifully written, moving portrayal of three sisters finding themselves and each other after years of separation. It's also an important book that deals head-on with significant issues so skillfully woven into the narrative that I often stopped to consider the import of what I'd just read. If you're a dedicated environmentalist, this book is a must-read. If you're just someone who enjoys a good story, you'll get that, too, and much more."
– New York Times bestselling author Cassandra King
"The Summer Girls conveys sound environmental messages through a captivating story of how the ocean and a charismatic dolphin reunite sisters in the alluring ecological setting of the Lowcountry of South Carolina. The story resonates on a personal level and, moreover, delivers a powerful reminder of the importance of protecting dolphins and the environment in which they live."
– Patricia Fair, Director, Marine Mammal Program, NOAA
“Monroe’s resplendent storytelling shines even brighter . . . [with] startling insights into the intimate connection between nature and the human heart.”
– New York Times bestselling author Patti Callahan Henry
“In the bestselling tradition of Kathryn Stockett’s The Help, Mary Alice Monroe skillfully weaves together issues of class, women’s rights, and domestic abuse set in the tumultuous South during the 1970s. . . . Beautifully wrought, and rich with keen insight . . . an unforgettable tale of marriage, resilience, and one woman’s private strength.”
“Magical! Mary Alice Monroe's writing is always sensitive and true, and as inspiring as the natural wonder about which she writes. This luminous tale—set in the South Carolina Lowcountry that we both love so deeply—was hard to put down.”
– Dorothea Benton Frank
“Monroe brings authenticity and a sense of wonder to the plight of the endangered sea turtles and their miraculous capacity for survival.”
– Publishers Weekly
“Monroe utilizes her signature combination of informative storytelling wrapped in the relatable sagas of her protagonists.”
– Charleston City Paper
“An exquisite, many-layered novel of an unsolved mystery, an obsession, a reconciliation, and a little romance.... Treats readers to lush descriptions of nature."
"An author of power and depth."
– RT Reviews
"A consummate storyteller."
– The Best Reviews
"A master storyteller."
– Southeastern Charm magazine
"A strong, warm voice that brings the South to life."
– Powell's Book Review
"Mary Alice Monroe has written another novel that is helping to redefine the beauty and magic of the Carolina Lowcountry. Every book she has written has felt like a homecoming to me and...she has succeeded in making the marshes and rivers of the Lowcountry her literary home.... Haunting."
– New York Times bestselling author Pat Conroy
"Monroe makes her characters so believable, the reader can almost hear them breathing."
"Mary Alice Monroe has become one of the premier voices contemporary women's fiction today. Her lyrical, emotional, and gripping stories make for superb reading experiences."
– RT Book Reviews
"A soaring, passionate story of loneliness and pain and the simple ability of love to heal and transcend both. Mary Alice Monroe's voice is as strong and true as the great birds of prey of whom she writes."
– Anne Rivers Siddons
"Mary Alice Monroe writes from her heart to the hearts of her readers."
– Charleston Post & Courier
"Such a wonderful, exciting new read! Very well written and addicting! Looking forward to the next book in the series. Mary Alice--hurry up!"
– Books Unlimited
"Mary Alice writes the most readable books with important environmental story lines, but "The Summer Girls"might be my favorite. It's about family, finding yourself, getting through bad issues that could weigh you down, and enjoying the ride with the warm embrace of family. And there's a wild dolphin who helps heal the pain but finds his own. This book has everything--sense of place, family, strong characters, romance,a love of dolphins and more. This is BETTER than a beach read; this is a great book club book to discuss! Can't wait for the next in the trilogy. thanks, Mary Alice!"
– First Reads
"How wonderful it is to be able to dig into a summer novel and not only get so much pleasure from the awesome story, but to learn, learn, learn...[S]he brings new awareness to those of us who need enlightening."
– Maurice on Books
"[A] beautifully written and thought provoking work of fiction. Mary Alice Monroe once again delivers on her promise to write books that explore the beauty in nature and the complexity of human relationships as she delves into the human psyche."
– Linda Hitchcock of Booktrib
Resources and Downloads
High Resolution Images
- Book Cover Image (jpg): The Summer Wind eBook 9781476709048
- Author Photo (jpg): Mary Alice Monroe Photograph © Anne Rhett Photography(0.1 MB)
Any use of an author photo must include its respective photo credit
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