Mary Alice Monroe's A LOW COUNTRY WEDDING Warms Us With Southern Charm

Book Review - Jackie K Cooper

When Mary Alice Monroe released THE SUMMER'S END a wail went up throughout the country as it marked the end to her beloved "Lowcountry Summer" trilogy. People were bereft to think there would be no more stories about Mamaw and her beloved granddaughters - Dora, Carson and Harper. It looked as though these characters would fade into the sunset. But wait, it seems Monroe was not willing to let them go either so she crafted another story and it is titled A LOWCOUNTRY WEDDING.

A LOWCOUNTRY WEDDING starts out with the announcements of two weddings. Harper is marrying Taylor and Carson is marrying Blake. One is a beach wedding and the other is a formal wedding at a plantation in the lowcountry. Harper has bought the family home of Sea Breeze on Sullivan's Island and Mamaw has moved into the guest cottage there. Dora lives close by and Carson is coming to stay there until she gets married. The family feels intact.

All of this is set up in the first few pages of the book and it quickly grabs the readers and takes them back to this place of beauty, comfort and love. There might be just a slightly awkward feeling to the introduction of these characters one more time, but under Monroe's guidance the usual feeling of warmth evidenced in the previous books spreads over you. You settle into the story and rapidly luxuriate in its pleasantness.

There is something indefinable in Monroe's ability to create this lowcountry world. She takes the odor from the pluff mud and mixes it in with the slight saltiness of the ocean air, then she warms you with the rising temperature of the coming spring. And finally she peoples this place with individuals who are wonderfully contradictory in their actions. You think you know Mamaw and her three girls so well but in this book they all surprise you with their individual tastes and needs.

The "lowcountry books" have dealt with the way people who live there behave. We have seen the traditions Mamaw loves evolve into the lifestyles of the granddaughters she loves. And the way of the past is not always the way of the present. There are conflicts to be sure but because the love is so intense the family unit is never fractured.

In A LOWCOUNTRY WEDDING Monroe sticks her toe into the area of Lowcountry religion. A new character is introduced into the plot and his name is Atticus. He will perform the wedding ceremonies as he is a Baptist minister, and an old friend of Mamaw's. Through his eyes, and through his relationship with the three young women, we get a glimpse of what the religious views of this area are.

There is no way to describe Monroe's writing style other than to say it is uniquely wonderful. She has a heart for the lowcountry and the talent to bring it to life. Her books wrap you up into her world and make you a part of it. At the end of the book the readers feel they have just left one of the garden spots of the world and that it indeed is an enchanted place. Perhaps that is why we find a bit of sand in our shoes as we reluctantly leave this lowcountry adventure.

Mary Alice Monroe has graciously extended the life of her "lowcountry series" once again. But in the words of Oliver Twist, "More please."

A LOWCOUNTRY WEDDING is published by Gallery Books. It contains 432 pages and sells for $16.00.

Jackie K Cooper