If your idea of summer relaxation includes a juicy page-turner, you’re in luck. And, if you love Southern authors and stories, you’ve hit the jackpot with these new books – hitting the stores and online booksellers just in time for your Charleston beach vacation. Check out our recommendations for great summer reads:
Beach House for Rent
We’ve never disappointed by the works of Isle of Palms resident Mary Alice Monroe, who crafts beautiful stories set in the Lowcountry. Plus, each of her books highlights a particular species of wildlife and the challenges it faces. You finish each book having learned about the local environment, conservation and ways you can make a difference. Her latest book, due out June 20, is “Beach House for Rent,” the final installment of Monroe’s successful Beach House Series, which began with “The Beach House” novel back in 2002.
In this new novel, two women from different generations find a common bond and deep friendship thanks to a beloved beach house. Cara Rutledge, 50, rents her quaint beach house on Isle of Palms to 26-year-old Heather Wyatt for the summer. Heather’s anxiety keeps her indoors with her caged canaries, until the shorebirds she’s painting – and a man who rescues them – lures her out to beach. As Heather begins to find her footing, Cara’s life is struck with sudden tragedy.
When their worlds shift like the sand under their feet these two very different women come together to discover their common bonds and unique strengths. We were fortunate enough to snag an advanced copy of “Beach House for Rent” and recommend it highly for your summer reading.
Bonus: The first book in this series, “The Beach House,” has been made into a Hallmark Channel original movie starring Andie MacDowell, who also is executive producer. Look for the movie to air in May 2018.
Same Beach, Next Year
Another favorite local author is Dorothea Benton Frank, whose books also highlight the Charleston area and beaches. Her new novel, “Same Beach, Next Year,” is a celebration of the power of friendship, the enduring promise of summer and the indelible bonds of love.
In the novel, a chance meeting on the Isle of Palms brings former sweethearts Adam Stanley and Eve Landers together again. Their respective spouses, Eliza and Carl, fight sparks of jealousy flaring from their imagined rekindling of old flames. As Adam and Eve get caught up on their lives, their partners strike up a deep friendship—and flirt with an unexpected attraction—of their own.
Year after year, Adam, Eliza, Eve, and Carl eagerly await their reunion at the beach, where they grow closer with each passing day, building a friendship that will withstand family tragedy and devastating heartbreak.
Slightly South of Simple
We’re eager to dive into the works of Kristy Woodson Harvey, a young author in North Carolina. Her first book, “Dear Carolina,” in 2015 was long-listed for the Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize, has been optioned for film and has appeared on numerous “must-read” lists. In 2016, she published “Lies and Other Acts of Love.”
This summer, we can embark on the first of Harvey’s new Peachtree Bluff Series with “Slightly South of Simple.” This novel chronicles the journeys of three sisters and their mother—and a secret from their past that has the potential to tear them apart and reshape their very definition of what it means to be a family. Harvey has been described as “the next major voice in Southern fiction.” Sounds like one to put in the beach bag for sure!
Grab the paperback of “The Weekenders” by Mary Kay Andrews and set on the island of Belle Isle, North Carolina. When Riley Griggs is waiting for her husband to arrive at the ferry one Friday afternoon, she is instead served with papers informing her that her island home is being foreclosed. To make matters worse, her husband is nowhere to be found.
She turns to her island friends for help and support, but each of them has their own secrets and the clock is ticking as the mystery deepens. Cocktail parties and crab boil aside, Riley must find a way to investigate the secrets of Belle Island, the husband she might not really know, and the summer that could change everything.
Bonus: If reading cookbooks is fun for you, check out Andrews’ new culinary collection, “The Beach House Cookbook,” packed with Southern recipes from this Atlanta-based author.
Be Free or Die
Available on June 20 is the powerful book “Be Free or Die.” North Carolina author Cate Lineberry has crafted a compelling narrative that illuminates Robert Smalls’ journey from slave to Union hero and ultimately U.S. congressman. It also gives insight and knowledge into the country’s first efforts to help newly freed slaves while also illustrating the many struggles and achievements of African Americans during the war.
If you’re a local bookstore junkie, check out these great independent Charleston booksellers:
Blue Bicycle Books: 420 King St. near Marion Square. Packed with used books, first editions, books by Charleston authors, children’s books and more, this is a must-visit bookstore for any reader. Check the website for a list of upcoming author luncheons and book signing events.
Buxton Books: 2A Cumberland St. Visit this regionally focused independent bookstore and check out their book-based walking tours based on “The Lost Stories of Black Charleston” and “The Ghosts of Charleston.”
Preservation Society of Charleston: 147 King St. History buffs will love this bookstore and shop filled with Charleston culture and charm.