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The Sand Castle Paperback – July 8, 2009

19 customer reviews
Book 4 of 4 in the Runnymede Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Feisty Southern sisters Juts and Wheezy, of bestselling author Brown's Six of One trilogy, are back and as irascible as ever. The story unfolds in a single summer day in 1952, when the two make a day-trip to the beach accompanied by Jut's seven-year-old daughter, Nickel, and Wheezie's grandson, eight-year-old Leroy, whose mother has recently died. The day's events are simple: a long drive to the beach, the building of an elaborate sandcastle, a spat between sisters, lunch at a crab shack, a sudden injury and the drive back home. Brown creates palpable tension throughout, largely with tightly constructed dialogue. Nickel's teasing of grieving Leroy foreshadows the small catastrophe to come, and her cruelty contrasts with Juts's awkward attempts to draw her newly religious sister, still mourning the death of her daughter (Leroy's mother), back into the world. When the four return from lunch, Leroy receives a wound that rivals his inner pain. The sisters' collective response and Leroy's eventual release into sadness shape the end of the day, but not of the novel: the final three paragraphs elevate this tale from bittersweet to heartbreaking. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"[A] sad, funny, always moving snapshot of a sort of love letter in the sand." ---Booklist Starred Review --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 103 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; First Trade Paper Edition edition (July 8, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802144233
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802144232
  • Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 4.9 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,140,379 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Rita Mae Brown is the bestselling author of the Sister Jane novels-Outfoxed, Hotspur, Full Cry, The Hunt Ball, The Hounds and the Fury, The Tell-Tale Horse, and Hounded to Death-as well as the Sneaky Pie Brown mysteries and Rubyfruit Jungle, In Her Day, Six of One, and The Sand Castle, among many others. An Emmy-nominated screenwriter and a poet, Brown lives in Afton, Virginia.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By MJM on August 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover
As one of my fellow viewers, I picked up this up at my local library due to the attractive, fun cover. "2 chicks from the 50's wearing beach caps and bright red lipstick? It'll be like an old MGM movie in my hands!"

It wasn't. And while it wasn't, it wasn't disappointing either. Being my first Rita Mae Brown short story (103 pages; reminds me of aiming to put $20 in my tank and spilling over to $20.03), I'm not surprised that these are repeat characters. If you're new to this book, the author has been able to flesh them out a little and make them extremely individualistic. They each have their own specific quirks (to the point of personality stererotypes) but the dialogue used to display them is witty, quick and relateable. Whereas I don't believe that people actually have these Mother/Daughter, Grandmother/Grandson, Sister/Sister, Cousin/Cousin relationships, I can see bits and pieces of my own childhood impressions of my peers and superiors in them.

The plot is pretty basic. Two attractive sisters in their mid- to late-forties and completing annual trip to the beach both towing children: one sister with her grandson (her daughter/his mother having passed away from illness 8 months or so before) and one with her only child (a tomboy daughter). Fresh from tasting death and heartcahe due to two World Wars, the sisters have taken two very different courses of life. The older sister chastises and preaches her new-found love of Jesus Christ while the younger sister approaches life more logically with a rational mind. Told from the voice of the tomboy-daughter, the dialogue that progresses from all four characters is carefully chosen and well worded... even if it is hard to believe.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Washington S. VINE VOICE on September 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm a huge fan of Rita Mae Brown, owning every single book she has ever written, and an even bigger fan of Juts and Wheezy, first introduced in Six of One (her best, in my opinion). Upon seeing The Sand Castle release, I was thrilled to, yet again, visit the Hunsenmeier sisters and their vibrant, entertaining dialogue.

Needless to say, it wasn't a pleasant visit. While Brown still has the witty repartee she is so well known for, the storyline is thin, and the book is too - literally! Only 100 pages of what transpires in a day on the Chesapeake shore with Juts, Wheezy, Nickel, and her cousin, Leroy. Boring banter between the sisters, typical kid arguing, and a minor catastrophe really don't do anything to improve the storyline or endear one to the characters.

As a lover of Six of One and the subsequent sequels, it was also a bit disturbing to read certain affectations given to favorite old characters whom, to my knowledge, were never referred to as such in any previous books; i.e. Cora as "Big Wheezy?" Maybe I was sleeping.

In short, this review is probably longer and more substantial than The Sand Castle. One can only hope that the next releases from Brown have a bit more substance.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Tina Mancuso on November 27, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The best thing I can say about "The Sand Castle" is that it's a quick read. Other reviewers have recapped the story (what there is of it), so I won't go into that; I'll just say this: if you were a fan of "Six of One" and "Bingo", you should definitely skip this one. Other than the fact that the characters have the same names and more or less the same personalities, there's really no continuity at all between this prequel and the earlier "Runnymede" novels. (Same thing could be said about "Loose Lips", which suffered from similar continuity problems.) I tried my best while reading this to think of it as a completely separate story with characters that happened to have the same names, but it was difficult given that it just wasn't all that engaging on its own.

If you must read this one, get it from the library, like I did.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Cathy In MS on September 28, 2008
Format: Hardcover
After Loose Lips, I swore I would never pay good money for a book about Juts and Wheezy from Rita Mae Brown again. Luckily I didn't have to, a friend brought me this one while I was in bed sick to cheer me up.

And yet again the she has taken characters that were well established, well written, and well loved from Six of One and Bingo and totally made different people from them. How hard can it be to go back, reread a book that YOU wrote and check on what Louise's daughters' name was and how she died. Her grandson's name.....etc., etc.....It's like her thought process is "Well I want to buy a new horse and Juts and Wheezy sells so who cares what the story is and whether it lines up with the original books. I'll just stick their names in there and don't care if anyone notices."

Rita Mae, if you need money this bad honey, just start doing infomercials, quit suckering people for what is basically a short story about characters they once enjoyed, long, long ago.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By R. A. Frauenglas VINE VOICE on May 21, 2010
Format: Paperback
The Sand Castle, by Rita Mae Brown (108 pgs., 2007, 2008). This is a sweet novella about family. It takes place in just one day. It's about a visit to the seashore by sisters Juts & Wheezie Hunsenmeir, along with Juts' seven-year old daughter, Nickel Smith & her first cousin Leroy; in August 1952.
Leroy's Mom recently passed away & he has gone to live with his Aunt Wheezie, Juts' older sister. Apparently, these two sisters & Nickel are well-known to fans of this writer from some of her previous books. This is my first exposure to them. I liked them.
This book contains two car rides. One, to the shore & one heading home from the shore. There is swimming, by some. There is fear, by others. There is intricate sand castle building. There are arguments between the adults & between the two younger cousins. There are tears. There is pain. There is love & explanation & forgiveness.
This book is about how two adults & one child help another child cope with the one big terrible loss in his young life. Family pulls together. Family soldiers on. This family has unshakeable bonds.
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