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The Summer's End

By Mary Alice Monroe
Series:  LowCountry Summer #3
ASIN: B00P434CJS
Publisher:  Gallery Books 
Publication Date: 5/19/2015 
Format: Other
My Rating: 4 Stars 
 
In the powerful and heartwarming conclusion to her bestselling Lowcountry Summer trilogy, New York Times author Mary Alice Monroe brings her readers back to the charm and sultry beauty of Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina, to reveal how the pull of family bonds and true love is as strong and steady as the tides.
 
It is summer’s end and Sea Breeze, the family’s beloved estate on Sullivan’s Island, must be sold. It is an emotional time of transition as Mamaw and the three sisters each must face loss and find a new place in the world.
 
Harper, the youngest sister, arrived at Sea Breeze intending to stay only a weekend, but a rift with her wealthy, influential mother left her without direction or a home. During this remarkable summer, free from her mother’s tyranny and with the help of her half sisters, Harper discovered her talents and independent spirit. 
 
But summer is ending, and the fate of Sea Breeze hinges on Harper’s courage to decide the course of her own life. To do so she must release her insecurities and recognize her newfound strengths. She must accept love fully into her life—the love of Mamaw, Carson, and Dora, the love of Sea Breeze and the lowcountry, and most of all, the love of a Wounded Warrior who has claimed her heart.
 
The third book in Mary Alice Monroe’s trilogy that brims with “stories that touch the mind and heart of her readers” (Huffington Post), The Summer’s End follows three half sisters bound by love for their grandmother and the timeless beauty and traditions of the lowcountry.
 
 
My Review
 
A special thank you to Gallery Books and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. 
 
THE SUMMER’S END (Lowcountry Summer #3) a powerful trilogy by Mary Alice Monroe, as she brings her much loved reunion of three half-sisters at the SC Lowcountry’s Sea Breeze, driven by matriarch Mamaw to a heartwarming conclusion, with much growth, wisdom, experience—with love, affection, and family bonds, derived from their summer visit. 

In THE SUMMER GIRLS  (Lowcountry Summer #1) we met three-half sisters (Carson, Harper, and Dora), as they find their way back to one another with the help of their loving and aging grandmother, Mamaw and side kick Lucille, the housekeeper. 

The one link is the deceased son/father Parker, an alcoholic whose actions still affect the lives of all today. Mamaw is about to sale the home and move into an assisted living, and she informs all the girls if they do not come home for the summer, she will cut them out of her will. She hopes she can talk them in to returning full time to the south and to their roots. 

Brilliantly intertwined with real subjects of autism (Nate), alcoholism, enabling, abandonment, environmental issues, and the lovable and intriguing dolphins. A story of forgiveness, after years of secrets, silence, and enabling. 

In THE SUMMER WIND  (Lowcountry Summer #2), we dig deeper into the emotional lives and challenges of the three grown step-sisters, from different walks of life, a grandmother, a wise housekeeper, and a charismatic dolphin who touches the lives of a troubled boy with autism, and his aunt. 

Guilt and healing are the constant themes of this poignant story, their experiences, their lives and the courageous Dolphin. A powerful theme of humans and animals – sharing a connection is evident throughout each of the books demonstrating a reminder of the importance of protecting animals, and the environment.

THE SUMMERS END (Lowcountry Summer #3) brings a mixture of sadness and joy, tying up all loose ends, with renewal and reinvention. Lucille, Mamaw’s dear friend has passed on, and now Mamaw is lost without her. Everything was discussed with Lucille usually over a game of gin rummy. She knows Lucille would not like her mourning as her mission is ending, having brought the girls to the island to get to know one another,and embrace their roots. She has more work to do.

It has been a tumultuous summer of change and growth, ups and downs, joys and heartaches. The girls had rediscovered the sisterly love they shared as children when they played together on Sullivan’s Island. Yet much had to be done and she is running out of time. Summer’s End is fast approaching and soon her girls would be leaving. She too would be leaving Sea Breeze moving to a retirement home when the house was sold.

Everyone has to find their way in life, their purpose, their destiny. Who would buy the house and now they would have no place to gather. Would Sea Breeze be sold to strangers? Where would the girls live? Will Harper change her mind about returning to New York? How would Mamaw say goodbye? 

Dora’s divorce is pending, Carlson pregnant, and Harper completely adrift. Harper has suffered from a controlling mother, wanting her to remain in New York, not in SC. However, Harper has been keeping a secret of her own - her writing and of course there is the love interest, Taylor McClellan the man who befriended Nate and Carson at the Dolphin Research Center in Florida. 

Harper pursued a career as an editor in New York, discovering she had a talent in assisting others with their stories, and putting them onto a page. Her book. Her sisters thought she was taking the summer off to lounge. She cannot tell anyone, after all her father never finished a book, a family joke. Everyone would have opinions so she wanted to keep it to herself. 

Carson has worries now that she is a single mother, pregnant with no place to live and how to take care of her soon to be baby. Lucille always told her to trust her instincts. She will not run again. And then there is Blake. He loves the low country, his family, his dog, dolphins, and her which frightens her.

Dora the mother of son Nate has learned to let him live a little, and not be so strict and allowing him more fun –growing from the over protective and controlling mother she was when she first arrived on the island. He would soon go from homeschooling to a classroom, a private school that specialized in bright children with special needs, like his Aspergers. Of course, there is Devlin her ex-boyfriend we loved from the previous books, and he has an offer. 

Little did they know Mamaw, had been watching them carefully all summer since they were young girls, especially this summer. They shared their problems, struggles, their hopes and dreams with each other, together under the southern stars. The beginning of a new era a place where there would be joy again and possibly Parker had been wise after all in naming his daughters after great literary figures, giving them something to live up to. In her book, her granddaughters are her heroines. 

Over cocktails, games of canasta, parties, memories, grandmothers, old friends and new friends, porch swings, evening summer strolls and seaside summer days; a family, southern heritage, a home, rich with character and history, love and laughter in beautiful Sullivan’s Island, SC where dreams do come true. Mamaw may even have a new love interest at age eighty, and some surprises, and we get to revisit with a touching reunion with Delphine, the much loved dolphin once again. (Readers will enjoy the way the summer ends). 

With all Mary Alice Monroe’s stories she is a master at skillfully weaving into her narrative, significant environmental topics, blending them into the lives of her flawed characters---as they mature, learn, and find healing and acceptance from life’s lessons and experiences. 

Each book is unique with richly developed characters, connected to nature, ones you will not soon forget, even after the story ends. If you have not read Mary Alice Monroe, you are missing a rare treat as one of my favorite authors of the south for many years. Each can be read as a standalone; however, recommend reading them all! 
 
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About the Author

 

Known for her intimate portrayals of women's lives, Mary Alice Monroe's writing gained added purpose and depth with her books set in the Lowcountry of South Carolina.  An active environmentalist, Monroe draws themes for her novels from nature and the parallels with human nature, thus drawing attention to various endangered species and the human connection to the natural world.   
  

Mary Alice is  involved with several environmental groups and is on the board of the South Carolina Aquarium, the Leatherback Trust, and Charleston Volunteers for Literacy.  Her volunteer work with these and other groups provided the inspiration for  her novels, 

 

The Lowcountry Summer trilogy is her newest endeavor and is set against the backdrop of the Atlantic bottlenose dolphins.  THE SUMMER GIRLS, the first book in the series, was released summer 2013 and introduces the complex relationships between three sisters of the Muir family at Sea Breeze, their historic home on Sullivan's Island, S.C.  The second installment, THE SUMMER WIND was released in 2014. Book three, THE SUMMER'S END will be out summer 2015.

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