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Swimming Lessons (STP - Mira) Hardcover – April 1, 2007

201 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Sick sea turtles and a sharply drawn cast mark Monroe's hardcover debut, an inspirational tale of redemption and, naturally, the power of love. Single mom Toy Sooner has two loves: her daughter, Lovie, and sea turtles, so when sick sea turtles wash up near Charleston, S.C ., one summer and overwhelm the area's resources for turtle aid, Toy is tapped by the president of the aquarium where she works to land a grant for setting up a turtle hospital. This means long nights of work alongside fetching aquarium director Ethan Legare. Their evenings at Toy's home (where Ethan gets on splendidly with Lovie) stir Toy's dormant emotions. Meanwhile, Toy's friends wrestle with their own issues—aging, infertility, money problems, postdivorce blues. After Toy's grant is approved, she is put in charge of the turtle hospital and things are pretty swell—until Lovie's father, Darryl, suddenly reappears, intent on playing a role in Lovie's life. Toy is torn, and trouble is in the offing. A crisis hits very late in the book, giving the narrative a lopsided feel. Though billed as the sequel to Beach House (2002), the novel stands on its own and will likely widen Monroe's readership. (Apr.)
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About the Author

Mary Alice Monroe is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author whose novels include Swimming Lessons, Sweetgrass, Skyward, and The Beach House, as well as the award-winning children's book Turtle Summer. An active conservationist, she lives in the lowcountry of South Carolina. Visit

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Product Details

  • Series: STP - Mira
  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Mira (April 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0778324621
  • ISBN-13: 978-0778324621
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.4 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (201 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #917,446 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mary Alice Monroe is known for her intimate portrayals of women's lives and keen eye to setting. Monroe brings to life the many colorful people and the compelling story layers of her home--Charleston and the the beaches of the lowcountry.

Mary Alice Monroe's books have achieved several best seller lists including the New York Times, SIBA, and USA Today. Mary Alice has received numerous awards, including the 2014 SC Book Festival Award for Excellence in Writing, the 2015 SW Florida Book Festival Distinguished Author Award, 2008 South Carolina Center for the Book Award for Writing, The RT Lifetime Achievement Award, and the International Book Award for Green Fiction. She serves on the board of the South Carolina Aquarium, the Leatherback Trust, and the Charleston Volunteers for Literacy. Her children's books received several awards, including the ASPCA Henry Bergh award.

Her recent novel is the final book in a trilogy set in the lowcountry: THE SUMMER GIRLS, THE SUMMER WIND, and THE SUMMER'S END. Her next novel, A LOWCOUNTRY WEDDING, continuing the popular series, will be released in May 2016. Monroe's novel, THE BEACH HOUSE, will be made into a Hallmark film starring Andie MacDowell.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 47 people found the following review helpful By P. Suchy on May 12, 2007
Format: Hardcover
For several years, I've enjoyed the work of Mary Alice Monroe. And when I noted that Swimming Lessons was coming out, I knew I needed to catch up on my reading and start with the Beach House (the book that introduced us to the Swimming Lessons characters). As usual, the author didn't disappoint me and created a lovely book about mother/daughter relationships that I could easily relate to. But more than that, I became equally intrigued with Loggerhead Turtles. So the follow up book - Swimming Lessons, was an added bonus to keep involved with the characters. Again, wonderfully written, you form a deep attachment to the characters and get caught up with the lives of the turtles -- this time from a different perspective. I highly recommend Swimming Lessons, but also recommend you start with The Beach House.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Wendy Kaplan on May 30, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This absolutely wonderful sequel to "The Beach House" brings together all the "turtle ladies" whose mission it is to rescue endangered sea turtles who lumber up onto South Carolina's beaches once a year to lay their eggs in a timeless ritual. Civilization being what it is, the nests would be destroyed, purposely or not, if this dedicated band of women (and men) were not there each year to tirelessly make sure that doesn't happen.

Like "The Beach House," this book is based on fact; Monroe herself is a self-proclaimed turtle lady. The plot revolves around the characters we met in the first book: Single mother Toy now has her degree and a job at the aquarium, which is about to get much more prestigious. Her darling little girl Lovie, named after the matriarch who passed away in the last book, is a precocious, wonderful 6-year-old, a self-proclaimed "LITTLE turtle lady." Cara and Brett, who fell in love in the last book and married, are trying hard to have a baby. Irrascible Flo is getting older and too proud to ask for help. And in this book, the menacing father of Toy's child, Darryl, suddently reappears, wanting to connect with the daughter he abandoned before her birth.

All of this makes for a quick and interesting page-turner, but the backbone of the book is the conservation of the giant turtles, and for me, that's the grabber.

"Swmming Lessons" is the perfect summertime book, whether you're at the beach (how more perfect could it get?), around a pool, or just lazing on your front porch. I urge you to grab it and gobble it up!
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Terri Rowan on April 4, 2007
Format: Hardcover
When Toy Sooner moved to the Isle of Palms in South Carolina, she made a promise to better her life. She had to: she was a new, single mother with few prospects. Thanks to kindnesses from people she now calls family, Toy has blossomed into a successful woman and mother.

After years of effort, Toy now works at a highly respected aquarium and volunteers with a sea turtle watch and rescue group. She finds the balance between work, helping sea turtles, and raising Little Lovie, her five-year-old daughter, a rewarding challenge. But when she is placed in charge of the Aquarium's new sea turtle hospital, the massive responsibility eats at her hard-won confidence. One of the Aquarium's top guns could be an obstacle to her success--or a much-needed ally.

The people in Toy's life are also going through major life transitions. Cara and Brett want a baby, Emmie is home after a rough divorce, and Flo is starting to feel her age. Family by choice, this tight-knit group will have its foundations turned to the very sand trod by their beloved loggerhead turtles. Will love and trust win out over life-altering challenges?

Toy is strikingly real as a young, single mother doing her best not to repeat her own mother's mistakes. When Little Lovie's father tries to reenter the picture, Toy--and her beloved friends--has very human reactions. In trying not to mess up, she does make mistakes, and this is only one aspect that will draw women to her character.

Once again, Mary Alice Monroe delivers a novel in the laid-back but emotional style befitting the South Carolina Lowcountry. She captures the ebb-and-flow rhythm of island life through the eyes of characters as real as your next-door neighbor.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Carolina Faust on February 21, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mary Alice Monroe does it again in exploring relationships and real life. As a fan for many years now I couldn't wait to read this new novel. I read "Swimming Lessons" with a thirst to be quenched and wasn't disappointed in any way!!! This author is fantastic!!! Having lived on the SE Georgia coast for almost 25 years now I could relate to the surroundings and the pictures painted with Monroe's words were music to my soul. I visited the Georgia Sea Turtle Center on Jekyll Island a couple of weeks after finishing the work and found the exact turtle rehabilitation set-up that was described. As I went around the Center and then to the Nursery I had to tell everyone that they needed to read "Swimming Lessons." Bravo, Mary Alice!!! Please create us some more to read!!! You not only write well but you make a difference with your stories as well...definitely a book worth reading and life well lived...
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By lowcountry book lover on April 27, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Ever since I unknowingly picked up a copy of The Beach House to take on a vacation, only to discover that it was all about my beloved Isle of Palms with such delightfully created characters, I have been reading everything written by Mary Alice Monroe I can find. Swimming Lessons did not disappoint. I feel as though Toy, Little Lovie, Flo, Cora, Brett and Ethan are now my personal friends. As I crossed the connector bridge to the Isle of Palms last evening, I pointed out to my children, exactly where I imagine that Cora and Brett live. I can't wait to start walking the beach during turtle egg laying season to see the turtle ladies and their labors of love. I will also anxiously await another sequel to see how Cora and Brett fare with their quest for a child, to watch Little Lovie grow up in the lowcountry and Ethan and Toy's relationship progress, and to watch Emmi settle back into island living with her roommate, Flo. Thank you for another great read. Alas, it was to have been my first beach book of the season, however, once I started reading, I could not stop and never quite made it to the beach!
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