Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Last Light Over Carolina by Mary Alice Monroe
With a warm voice that brings the South to life, New York Times bestselling author Mary Alice Monroe writes richly textured novels that intimately portray the complex and emotional relationships shared among family, friends, and the natural world. Here, in Last Light Over Carolina, Monroe tells the haunting and touching story of a longtime shrimp boat captain and his wife of thirty years the day he is injured at sea.
On an otherwise ordinary day, in a small shrimping village off the coast of South Carolina, a boat goes missing. The entire town rallies as all are mobilized to find the lost vessel. Throughout the course of one day, flashbacks of Bud Morrison, the captain on board, and Carolina, his wife, reveal the happier days of a once-thriving shrimping industry juxtaposed with the memories of their long term marriage.
Through her wonderfully evocative storytelling and keen insights into the human heart, Mary Alice Monroe has yet again delivered an exceptional and engaging work of fiction. Pat Conroy once said that “every book that Mary Alice Monroe has written has felt like a homecoming to me,” and Anne River Siddons wrote that “Monroe’s voice is strong and true.” Now, once again, Monroe brings the South to life with a lyrical and evocative story about past mistakes and second chances.
I really enjoyed this book, since I am from this area of the country. I know exactly the kind of town this book portrays. At the beach in lower North Carolina and upper South Carolina, families for years have gone to the town of Calabash. Calabash is a town with around 40 seafood restaurants, and they serve shrimp right off the boats. It is one of my favorite memories of growing up.
It is sad to see how this industry is changing. Cost of diesel fuel, dumping of shrimp on the market from overseas, the hard work involved, all these factors are leading to the end of a way of life. Monroe captured that life, and I enjoyed reading about it. Her characters rang true, and again, I've grown up with each type portrayed in the book. This is a wonderful portrayal of a slice of Southern life. It is recommended for all who love Southern fiction.