Top critical review
22 people found this helpful
on August 6, 2002
The Beach House, by Mary Alice Monroe, is a story about family and the strangled relationships that often exist within them. Mother and daughter, Olivia and Caretta Rutledge, are from upper crust Charleston, live in an old mansion, have a beach house on the Isle of Palms, and for all appearances, have charmed lives. However, underneath all the glamour lies a history of anger, repression, and violence. That the two women chose totally different ways to cope with the disfunction in their family wrenches them apart for twenty years and it is only when Olivia is old and dying, that Cara forces herself to return.
Caretta, a successful and self-made business woman in Chicago, comes home to visit at the beach house on the Isle of Palms and finds what her previous life has been missing: love, affection, trust, companionship, family. In only a short summer, she forms a new family with her mother, a young pregnant teenager and the Turtle Team, a group who monitors and protects Loggerhead Sea Turtle nests. Her hesitance at first grows into wonder as she observes her first nest of hatchlings in the South Carolina moonlight.
There is also a romantic element that is good enough to make you happy for the couple and hope for their future. In the end, a hurricane swipes the island and forces the realization of just how much it all means.
This is not a deep or philosophical book but the story of human contact and the need for love and understanding make for a good read. The turtle storyline is informative and interesting as well as consciousness raising. A good book for mothers and daughters whose relationships need work and a perfect one for reading on the beach.