84 of 87 people found the following review helpful
on May 9, 2011
The Beach Trees by Karen White is a novel of love, family, and the endurance of both friendship and life. Karen White is one of my favorite authors and in my opinion she is a wonderful writer and creator of beautiful stories. In The Beach Trees we travel to Biloxi, Mississippi which had been ravaged by Hurricane Katrina but is being painstakingly rebuilt by people with a lot of hope and faith.
Julie Holt has had her share of tragedy in her life. At the young age of twelve her sister is taken while Julie is supposed to be watching her. Julie has spent her life searching for Chelsea; it has consumed her. She simply can't believe Chelsea is really gone; as long as there is no body, there is still hope that she may be found or come home. Now Julie is heading to Biloxi to a beach house left to her by her late friend Monica. Along with that beach house Monica also left her five year old son Beau to Julie.
Julie arrives to find that the beach house no longer exists. It had been destroyed by Katrina. She is devastated and has no idea what to do next. Monica had told her to see Ray Von, an elderly woman who gives her a portrait that Julie's own great-grandfather had painted and that is worth a lot of money. She tells her to take Beau to New Orleans to meet Beau's great-grandmother Aimee and that she can be sure of a place to stay there.
Julie dreads the meeting as she will have to tell Aimee and Monica's brother Trey that she has passed away but she knows that both Beau and his family deserve to know each other. As she expected they are devastated but at least now they know what happened to Monica after she disappeared. They are thrilled to have a piece of Monica though in Beau and encourage Julie to stay. Julie takes to Aimee right away and vice versa. Trey however is another story. He and Monica were very close and he is hurt and angry but as Julie and Trey begin to rebuild the beach house called River Song, they discover that they have much more in common than they thought.
The story itself is told alternately through the viewpoints of Aimee from the 1950's and Julie in the present. As Julie and Aimee spend more time together, the story will switch to the past as Aimee tells Julie what had gone on. As the stories progress, they begin to come closer and closer to just why Monica felt the need to leave her home and never come back or stay in contact with anyone. All the while Julie is becoming closer to both Aimee and Trey and beginning to think that maybe making a home for Beau and herself at River Song when it's rebuilt isn't such a bad idea. Julie has been running away from commitment her whole life because she's so scared that anything and everything can be taken away at a moment's notice but maybe now she's ready to settle down.
The Beach Trees is a fantastic story! I love the way Karen White weaves a mystery in with her stories and I really enjoyed watching this story unfold and learning all the family secrets that had laid buried for so many years. I loved the characters especially Julie and Aimee. I felt they were both such caring women and I was just really drawn to them. I always enjoy the way Karen White describes the setting; complete with sights and smells. She makes sure the reader feels as though they are there experiencing everything her characters are. The Beach Trees is a novel that will capture your heart and your attention and keep you reading way into the wee hours of the morning!
34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
Not long after obtaining possession of a Katrina (don't mention that name in the Gulf) ravaged beach house in Biloxi, Julie Holt leaves New York for the Gulf coast. Her late best friend Monica Guidry who died from congested heart failure gave custody of her five year old son Beau to Julie as she trusted her buddy to take care of her child.
Julie never learned why Monica fled her family but hopes they will welcome Beau. Elderly Ray Von Williams gives her a sealed box sent by Monica to her to give to Julie and tells her to go to New Orleans to Beau's maternal great grandmother Aimee so they have a place to stay. Inside the box is a portrait by renowned Abe Holt, Julie's great-grandfather. Aimee and his Uncle Trey welcome the New Yorker and her ward. Julie begins to learn what drove Monica from Biloxi though what she learns remains confusing. However, what she finds out reminds her of what happened to her family when she was twelve and her sister Chelsea was kidnapped.
The story line contains two subplots respectively told by the prime two females; Aimee in the 1950s and Julie in the present. The comparison between the Gulf through the eyes of the native in the 1950s and that of the Massachusetts born Yankee five years after Katrina will fascinate the audience. The mystery of why Monica cut off her family who Julie believes she cherished based on the stories she shared with her lacks suspense so it is not as interesting as the tour of the Gulf past and present from Biloxi to New Orleans.
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
I have read a number of Karen White's books and in my opinion, this one is the best yet. I did not find it slow moving at all, but through in examining each character and each setting. White makes is clear that the damage to the Gulf Coast from Katrina was devastating. While New Orleans suffered the aftermath of flood caused by the levee failures, the wind took its greatest toll on the Mississippi coast along with the thirty something foot tide. White is able to capture the feelings of those left to cope with these disasters, and she also shows their determination to re-build and move forward again. Someone has said, "It's the price we pay for living in paradise." White understands that and brings it out in her story.
The characters are well formed and the plot of The Beach Trees keeps the reader guessing till the very last page. If you are looking for a really good read whether for the beach or the quietness of your own den, this is a definitely recommended book. Good job, Karen White, keep it up.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on June 8, 2011
The Beach Trees is one of the best books I have read. Karen's story lines are always great, but this book is superb. The characters are interesting and the scenery that is set...so vivid! I felt like I was in New Orleans and Biloxi as I was reading. Once I started the book, I could not put it down. Summer read, winter read, what ever you are looking for, this is it. Julie is the lost soul that you want to help, Aimee is the grandmother that you adore, Trey is the good looking guy, and Beau is the precious little boy that we all have met. I guarantee complete satisfaction with this one. Thanks, Karen, for another thoughtful, entertaining read! Keep writing, please!
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on December 27, 2011
I bought this book on clearance . . . didn't know what to expect. Loved it! Was pleasantly surprised at the depth of writing and the author's ability to keep you guessing. I appreciate the historical descriptions of Katrina and the impact on the Gulf Coast region. While the book was not a Katrina story, the author did a great job of weaving the hurricane impacts into the story while still creating and maintaining a strong plot. Enjoy!
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on March 23, 2013
I loved the title and the cover of the book, and I tried hard to like the book, but it was a muddled mess. It seemed like all of the characters had missing sisters and murdered mothers, and the generations skipped back and forth in a dizzying attempt to confuse readers into thinking there was a story hidden somewhere. I persevered to the end, hoping for improvement, and now I'm just relieved to be finished. I will never read another of White's books.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on May 25, 2011
I absolutely LOVED this novel! It's not your everyday novel...it's BETTER than that! If you are looking for a well written, mostly serious yet at times funny, beach read, look no further than Karen White's THE BEACH TREES. Her style is unique and gripping and will keep you hooked to the very end.
The characters found amongst these pages are both complex and real. Julie and Trey both experience the tragedy and stress of loosing someone they love. But, when both are faced with decisions and huge responsibility, the story comes to life and the reader is taken on a wave of emotions. Julie and Trey learn the true meaning of family and redemption through out this moving novel. I felt myself completely drawn to Julie...for a time, I could imagine myself in her shoes, caring for sweet little Beau and dealing with Trey. I could picture my self in New Orleans along side the coast and watching the waves crashing and seeing the houses that were destroyed during Katrina.....an amazing experience!
Honestly, though, this is not a book that I would have bought from a book store. I tend to stick with mysteries and historical ones from there. But, after reading this now, I can say that I would have been missing out on a wonderfully written story by a truly fantastic author!
This is 5 star worthy and I highly recommend it. You'll quickly be taken away to the deep south in the town of New Orleans, hear the southern drawl of the natives and make amazing new friends. Karen White will mesmerize you with her incredible talent and if you're new to her work (like me) you'll be dying to read more works of fiction by this great author!
*This review is based on a complimentary copy which was provided for an honest review*
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on July 6, 2012
I rarely write reviews, but this was such a disappointing book I'd like to save just one other person from the same negative experience.
I just read, and enjoyed, "Sea Change" and bought this book hoping for a similar pleasure. The actual story could have been told in 50 pages or fewer, and the character development was similarly stingy. Even though Ms. White tried for endless chapters to portray the atmosphere of the Gulf Coast, I never once yielded my imagination to her descriptions. There was something so bleak, so depressing about every aspect of this book, and the shotgun ending left me frankly irritated and feeling short-changed. While the conclusion wasn't 100% predictable it was close, and I'd like to smack authors who tie up their whole storyline, manufactured suspense and all, in a few pages. By the time I reached the final two chapters I didn't care about the main character, her flimsy love interest, the token mystery gentlemen and ladies, or anyone else.
I read so much that I was at first thrilled to find an enjoyable new (to me) author with her many books, but this will certainly be the last I buy.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 8, 2011
Absolutely great. I have read all of Karen White's books and each one is better than the one before. I especially enjoyed the Tradd Street stories and am looking forward to the Montagu saga. The Tradd Street books are especially
close to my heart because I am from Charleston and can close my eyes and imagine being there, etc. etc. etc!!! Thanks Karen White for being able to draw your readers in. Keep them all coming!!!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Julie Holt knows what it is like to experience loss at a young age. While keeping an eye on her younger sister Chelsea, Julie leaves her alone in the backyard only to discover her missing. Her family searches desperately for the girl yet never finds her. With the constant reminder of a missing link, the family tragically falls apart. When Julie's mother passes away unexpectedly, it leaves Julie alone with the plight to bring Chelsea back home.
Now, Julie is a successful businesswoman working at an auction house in New York City connecting her love of art with the hope of finding her beloved sister Chelsea. One day, she meets the charismatic artist Monica Guidry from way down South at an exhibit. An immediate bond forms between the two and a forever friendship takes flight. When a secret heart condition takes Monica's life, Julie becomes the guardian of Monica's five-year-old son Beau and the owner of a mysterious painting.
With no other choice, Julie sets off to Biloxi, Mississippi to reconnect with Monica's family in order to uncover the clues of Monica's mysterious past. Along the way, she meets up with Monica's beloved grandmother Aimee and stubborn brother Trey. What unfolds is an emotional power struggle for both families as they fight to hold onto Monica's memory while desperately trying to let go of the past. As family secrets are revealed, the stakes become higher and Julie learns firsthand the power of love and forgiveness.
THE BEACH TREES is the tenth novel for the nationally bestselling author Karen White. Taking her readers to the core of the hurricane zone in Mississippi and Louisiana, she brings together two families nurturing their wounded souls. Expertly written, White's emotionally tender story of intrigue, love, and modern day natural disasters sets her apart as the ultimate voice of women's fiction.