The Summer's End Is a Special Summer Read

Book Review Jackie K Cooper
THE SUMMER'S END by Mary Alice Monroe

Mary Alice Monroe completes her Lowcountry Summer trilogy with her new novel The Summer's End. This book brings finality to her story about three half-sisters spending their summer at their grandmother's home on Sullivan's Island, South Carolina. The first two installments made for fascinating reading but it is this final novel that ties it all together in a special way.

Special is an adjective which applies to Mary Alice Monroe and her writing in many, many ways. Monroe has a "special" way of describing the locales of her stories. Never is that talent used better than when she is describing the exquisite low country land and seas. Readers can smell the pluff mud, feel the penetrating heat, hear the sounds of the ocean and waterways. When you finish the last pages of The Summer's End you almost feel tanned.

In this book the plot focuses on Harper, the sister named for the writer Harper Lee. She is the quietest of the trio of sisters living with their Mamaw for the summer. The girls -- Dora, Carson and Harper -- share the same father but each has a different mother. Mamaw is their deceased father's mother and is the owner of Sea Breeze, their summer home.

Harper is undecided about her future. She has been working for her imperious mother who lives in New York, but this has been unfulfilling and Harper feels she gets no respect. What she really wants to do is write but she has kept her efforts in this field hidden as she does not want the ridicule that might come with letting others read her work.

When a handsome stranger named Taylor comes to visit Carson, Harper finds herself smitten from the start. She is drawn to his strength and seemingly endless confidence. When she finds out that he too has insecurities it allows her to open up to him. Combined with the power she finds in the natural beauty of Sullivan's Island, Harper finds herself drawing strength from her southern roots.

This entire trilogy of books, and especially this final one, is Mary Alice Monroe's writing at its best. She makes each of the characters in the story spring fully alive on the pages and the reader suffers with them through their pain and rejoices with them in their happiness. The book(s) have moments of both emotions.

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 rare enchantment. Next, Monroe's brain assembles a plot that moves the characters from one amazing event to another. Then from Monroe's heart comes the passion for the story, one that is rich with love and depth.

The Summer's End is the final book in Mary Alice Monroe's love letter to her beloved low country. I hated to see it all end as I wanted these characters in my life for books and years to come. They became my friends and I will miss them. Still through the wonder of books I can always revisit them, and I will. And so will you.

The Summer's End is published by Gallery Books. It contains 432 pages and sells for $16.00.

Jackie K Cooper