Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Review and Blog Tour: Last Light Over Carolina by Mary Alice Monroe

The small coastal town of McClellanville, South Carolina has always relied on the bounty of the sea to sustain its citizens. Most of the residents of the town make their livings shrimping or fishing. Bud Morrison is no exception.

Bud is a third generation shrimper, going out with his dad on the boat from the time he could walk. It has been a hard-working life, but he wouldn't trade it. There is something special about working your own boat, being your own boss. Things have been going downhill for a while now, though. Foreign shrimp dumped on the market drives the prices down, regulations for shrimping hamper every catch and the numbers of shrimp are down, too. It's getting harder and harder to make a living.

So Bud is caught in a classic catch-22. He has to work more, longer hours to support his family and pay his bills. But the harder he works, the less time he spends with his wife, Carolina. She chose to marry Bud even though she knew that their lives would be full of hard work. She didn't count on their physical separation becoming an emotional one, too. Their constant battles have just about ruined their thirty year marriage. They have struggled to get back to the close relationship they had when they were first married but the strain is difficult to bear.

On the morning of September 21, Bud gets up before 4 a.m., as usual. When his cousin and deckhand fails to show up at the boat, Bud leaves without him - even though he is aware of the risks he faces going out alone. Carolina awakens with a feeling of lingering gloom that she is unable to dispel. Throughout the day, both Bud and Carolina reflect on the events that formed their relationship and their lives together.

When Bud fails to return to the the dock in the afternoon, everyone bands together to find him. Though both Bud and Carolina have lived with the dangers of an occupation at sea for many years, the actuality of a disaster brings them both to stark realizations about themselves. If they can get through this one day, they might be able to get back what they had, because now they both realize how precious it is.

Mary Alice Monroe brings to life a struggling American family in an industry plagued with hardship. I loved the way she told both sides of this couple's story, thoughtfully drawing the history as seen from each partner and weaving them together into a portrait of a marriage. The warm southern style of the narrative makes the reader feel right at home in this enjoyable novel.

Last Light over Carolina is published by Pocket Books. ISBN 978-1-4165-4970-3

I read Last Light over Carolina as part of a Pocket Books blog tour (thanks, Sarah!). Here's the list of all participating blogs:

All About {n}

Bookin’ with “BINGO”

My Guilty Pleasures

Just Jennifer Reading

Chick With Books

Bella’s Novella

Books and Needlepoint

Booksie’s Blog


Medieval Bookworm

Living Life and Reading Books

Book N Around

The Eclectic Book Hoarder

Pick of the Literate

A Book Bloggers Diary

My Friend Amy

Gaijin Mama

Blog Business World

ScarpettaJunkie’s Blog

Frugal Plus

Carolina Gal’s Literary CafĂ©

This Book For Free

Marta’s Meanderings


Kaye said...

Hi Carey, I just put this on the wish list. Mary Alice Monroe really knows how to make the reader connect emotionally with her characters. One of my favorite books is her Beach House.

Nicole (Linus's Blanket) said...

I have never heard of this author before, but this sounds like a really good book. The shrimping industry is entirely a mystery to me so I can imagine that must have been an interesting background.

Anna said...

This is a new-to-me author whose books I must read at some point. Thanks for the review.

Diary of an Eccentric

Meghan said...

Glad you liked this one too! I also really enjoyed how we heard from both sides of the marriage and got such a clear picture of their lives and hearts.

bermudaonion said...

I loved this book too! I want to read more of Monroe's work after reading it.

Gwendolyn B. said...

I think I'd enjoy this novel - it's good to know you did! I'll put it on my wish list.

Missy B. said...

I love Mary Alice Monroe's novels. I can't wait to read this one. Thanks for the review!

Beth F said...

I have a copy of this book coming to me. Can't wait to read it.

Zibilee said...

I really liked your review of this one and think that it sounds great. I'll have to make plans to read this one soon. Thanks!

kalea_kane said...

Great review! Just sounds incredible. Thank you for sharing this author with us!

Valerie said...

"she told both sides of this couple's story" I think it adds depth to see both point of views
My friend would quite enjoy this
KawaiiNeko2008 at aol dot com

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a touching story. And the cover is beautiful.

Thoughts from an Evil Overlord

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New Hampshire, United States
Bibliophile, Anglophile, Traveller... I have been an avid reader all of my life, since I took the Dr. Seuss Dictionary away from my Mom when I was less than a year old because I wanted to read it myself. In college, where I earned my degree in English Literature, I was often asked "What are you going to do with it?" Now I finally have the answer to that question!!! Being employed as a Flight Attendant for twenty years has given me a lot of life experience and, better still, a lot of time to read. I love to travel for fun, too.