New Reads From Island Authors
Our small islands are overflowing with literary talent. This summer sees new work from local authors Dorothea Benton Frank, Mary Alice Monroe and Leonard Goldberg, as well as a growing children's book collection from Clay Rice. Here, SiP writers review the new releases.
Same Beach, Next Year
Dorothea Benton Frank, Sullivan’s Island
Do you remember your first love? The thrill, the passion, the devastation when it ended? Do you wish, looking back through the decades, that you could go back to those days and recapture that feeling, revisit your first love? Be careful what you wish for. That’s the premise of New York Times bestselling author Dorothea Benton Frank’s latest page-turning, beach-perfect novel, her eighteenth.
Frank, who has made a career out of writing about her home town of Sullivan’s Island and the surrounding Lowcountry, once again returns to this magical land with a story of marriage, love, family and, above all, friendship. Peppered with her trademark humor and infused with a generous dose of heart, Same Beach, Next Year will not disappoint her legions of fans and will win her a few new admirers.
Adam Stanley and Eve Landers bump into each other in a pool at Wild Dunes on Isle of Palms, 20 years after they last laid eyes on each other. Both are married with children. The two couples begin a friendship that spans the next two decades, but not everyone knows the full extent of Adam and Eve’s past. Year after year, the couples — Adam and his wife Eliza, Eve and her husband Carl — return to vacation together at Wild Dunes, both eventually buying condos next door to each other.
The story follows their parallel lives and explores their strengthening relationships, until a devastating revelation threatens to destroy everything they’ve worked their whole lives for. While ostensibly a love story, Same Beach, Next Year is really an ode to the power of friendship and how, by making the ultimate sacrifice for your friends, any wound can be healed.
Frank’s heroine, Eliza, spends a portion of the book in her mother’s homeland of Greece, giving the author an excuse to indulge in a literary orgy of food, scenery and ancient Catholic saints. If you can read this book and not plan a trip to Europe you are a stronger person than I. Food is almost a character in the novel, and even plays a role in the love quadrangle (although a decision to choose one woman over the other because she can cook and the other can’t raise my eyebrows a fraction). Like all good beach reads, there are some fun, far-fetched plot twists, but this doesn’t take away from the basic truth Frank is serving up: Never take for granted the happiness you have, even if it’s not what you thought you wanted — there is a plan for us all, just try your best not to screw it up.
By Jennifer Tuohy
Beach House For Rent
Mary Alice Monroe, Isle of Palms
Mary Alice Monroe is a New York Times bestselling author of 20 novels and a resident of the Isle of Palms. Her most recent book, Beach House for Rent, comes out this June. The book is a stand-alone novel but is also the fourth in the Beach House series. Set on Isle of Palms and rich with family drama, Monroe transports readers to an island that acts as a sanctuary for its characters.
Monroe’s books highlight conservation issues for endangered species such as turtles, dolphins, butterflies and migrating shorebirds. She has said that the species come first when she is starting a new book and this time she chose shorebirds because of her work rescuing pelicans for the Center for Birds of Prey in nearby Awendaw. The more she learned about the declining shorebird population (which has shrunk by an estimated 70 percent across North America since 1973), the more alarmed she became, and Monroe’s weapon of choice is her pen.
The story is told in alternating perspectives of two women; Cara, an almost 50-year-old woman who has recently returned to the Lowcountry after being cut-off from her family years before, and Heather, a 26-year-old woman whose crippling anxiety has kept her homebound until the summer she rents Cara’s beach house. Monroe’s husband is a psychiatrist and her characters often struggle with emotional issues like PTSD, autism and depression. Like the endangered species, her characters struggle and triumph in unexpected and inspiring ways.
An underlying theme in the book is the importance of our connection to the outdoors and to understand what is wild. Monroe says she used Heather’s anxiety disorder as a tool to keep her trapped indoors and disconnected from nature.
“She longs to go outside to feel the sun on her face the breeze against her skin,” Monroe writes. Heather is a textbook artist and arrives at the beach house with her three canaries in tow. She loves birds, and the shorebirds and her commission lure her outdoors. In time, she forms a connection to the shorebirds, the sea, the beach and the work together to help Heather heal.
On the other side of town, Cara is approaching her fiftieth birthday when she is faced with an unexpected tragedy. For the first time in her life she is unmoored and struggles to move forward. Feeling helpless, she sees the beach house as her only salvation.
Monroe’s passion for the voiceless, the endangered and the injured has engaged readers for decades and will continue to do so with Beach House for Rent. Her stories of the challenges and triumphs between humans and wildlife make readers wonder who is rescuing who. Her lyrical descriptions of the Lowcountry landscape draws readers in, and her compelling cast of characters keeps them there to the very end.
By Amy S. Mercer
The Daughter of Sherlock Holmes
Leonard Goldberg, Sullivan’s Island
After the death of Sherlock Holmes, who could be called upon to help solve the most confounding of cases plaguing the streets of London? Well, it’s elementary, and dear Watson would agree. This calls for the assistance of the daughter of Sherlock Holmes.
Internationally known bestselling author Leonard Goldberg put a plot twist on the legend of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s fictional sleuth, Sher - lock Holmes, with the release of his new novel, The Daughter of Sherlock Holmes.
Born with a deductive mind of steel, and seemingly impervious to the lure of the opposite sex, Sherlock Holmes appears to have been outwitted at least once by the female persuasion, namely Irene Adler, who shows up only once in the saga of Sherlock Holmes. In Doyle’s A Scandal in Bohemia Adler was an opera singer who was having an affair with the King of Bohemia. Holmes was hired by the King to steal an incriminating photograph of the two together. Pivot to Goldberg’s imagined new narrative and while working the case, Holmes felt compassion for her situation, and recognized her as the victim of the powerful leader. There was apparently a bit more than compassion in the relationship, resulting in the birth of Joanna Blalock nine months later. Holmes’ closest confidant, Watson, had adoption papers sealed to stop the trail of evidence.
Joanna Blalock, a striking and astute nurse, seemingly unwittingly carries the genes of Sher - lock Holmes. Her unflappable and analytical mind made her highly sought after in her field, and in this novel, she joins Watson and his charming grown son to solve a suicide mystery.
The Daughter of Sherlock Holmes is the tenth book in Goldberg’s series featuring medical professional Joanna Blalock as the heroine.
Goldberg spent many years as a consulting physician at UCLA, is board certified in internal medicine, hematology and rheumatology, and has been a highly sought-after expert witness in medical malpractice trials. Goldberg relocated to Sullivan’s Island, where he used to spend summers as a child.
Goldberg’s fast-moving style is riddled with expert medical terminology, and his portrayal of Joanna Blalock paints a portrait of a female Holmes. The resurrection of Sherlock Holmes in the form of a previously unknown relative is certain to please the legions of Holmes aficionados throughout the world. With Holmes being one of the most portrayed characters in movie history, the possibility of Joanna Blalock coming to life on the big screen seems entirely plausible.
By Marci Shore
Rice’s Children’s Books
Clay Rice, Isle of Palms
Clay Rice entered the world of children’s books seven years ago, winning two national awards with his first effort. While he was a newcomer, it was clear he could tell a story in a unique way, tying together thoughtful passages with intricate silhouette illustrations.
So far, the Isle of Palms author and artist has treated us to four titles. Just like children, each book its own personality. But they are all undeniably Rice’s creations, and taken together, they share a common thread, one that celebrates our inner resilience, no matter our age.
Ants ‘n’ Uncles, 2016
In his latest title, Rice pays homage to the sillier side of children’s literary great Shel Silverstein with a whimsical tale of an uncle who couldn’t dance until he wound up with ants in his pants. The action takes him on an “unanticipated” world tour with illustrations of international locations that have a fun, postcard feel. e narrator’s uncle may be a bit of a bumpkin, but Rice is working at a sophisticated level with his craft.
The Stick, 2014
A Benjamin Franklin Book Award winner, Th e Stick has strong, focused imagery and a clear message that celebrates the possibilities of imagination: “Use it well, and you can be anything you want to be.” Island kids Keenan Cummings and Luke Smith served as models for the children who are the focus of the story. When reading, watch how the stick transforms as it is handed from one generation to the next.
Mama, Let’s Make a Moon, 2013
A tribute to the love and ingenuity of moms, this colorful rhyme offers a recipe for a moon that “won’t cost too much.” Rice sets the story in majestic mountains like those where his wife, Caroline, grew up in the upstate. He used Caroline as a model along with their younger son, Charlie, and family friend Claire Nelson. is book being a joy to read aloud with kids. Look for many hidden pictures in the detailed illustrations, which Rice spent a year crafting.
The Lonely Shadow, 2010
Given his life’s work in silhouettes, Rice couldn’t have picked a better character for his first book than a shadow searching for friendship. e journey showcases Lowcountry creatures and landscapes, while the shadow bears the likeness of his older son, Connor. is title won the Moonbeam Children’s Book Award Gold Medal for Best First Book and the even more prestigious Independent Publisher Book Award (IPPY) Gold Medal for Best Children’s Book.
By Susan Smith