mary-alice-monroeAwards aplenty accrue for Mary Alice Monroe — a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author; several time winner of the Southern Independent Book Alliance (SIBA) award; International Book Award for Green Fiction. Best award of all for the USCB Lunch With Author Series is her appearance as guest author for the SIXTH time. Monroe is a talented writer and an inspiring speaker.

On Thursday, May 10th, she will rejoin the series at the Hampton Hall Clubhouse, Bluffton. The all-inclusive noon lunch is $42 and advance registration may be made at 843-521-4147 or

Debuting the same week as the luncheon, Beach House Memories is a sequel to her most acclaimed book, The Beach House, which got the whole coastline thinking about nesting loggerhead turtles. The new book is a retrospection of the clamorous South during the 1970s and revisits Olivia “Lovie” Rutledge, the mother from The Beach House. As Lovie sits on the porch of her charming beach house and looks out over the ocean, the old woman reflects on the difficult choices she made many years earlier—during the summer that changed her life.

In 1974, at thirty-nine years old, Lovie hosts a formal dinner party for her unappreciative husband in their “south of Broad” home, the fabled neighborhood of privilege in Charleston. The following morning she takes her two children to Isle of Palms, a nearby barrier island where her family has a modest beach cottage. Behind closed doors, and exhausted from keeping up appearances—her husband’s infidelity and his withering, disdainful looks—she can only find solace and happiness at the beach.

Lovie is the self-appointed “turtle lady” of the islands, a project that is her passion and a source of pride. This fateful summer, the northern half of the island is sold to developers for a resort, destroying the maritime forest. Russell Bennett, a biologist, arrives to research the status of the nesting loggerheads prior to construction. Amazed at the detail and expertise of the ledgers Lovie has been recording about the loggerhead nestings, Russell asked Lovie to be his co-leader for the summer. As Lovie and Russell work together many stressful hours each day, they fall hopelessly in love. Yet they are both from respectable families, married, and afraid of scandal in the social mores of 1974. The summer comes to an end and they both must make choices…for a mother who loves her children above all else, this is no easy decision.

In Beach House Memories, Monroe skillfully weaves together issues of class, women’s rights, and domestic abuse set in the tumultuous South during the 1970s in this unforgettable tale of marriage, resilience, and one woman’s private strength.

An active environmentalist, Monroe draws themes for her novels from nature and the parallels with human nature, thus drawing attention to various endangered species and the human connection to the natural world. She is involved with several environmental groups and is on the board of the South Carolina Aquarium, the Leatherback Trust, and Charleston Volunteers for Literacy. Her volunteer work with these and other groups provided the inspiration for her novels The Beach House, Skyward, Sweetgrass, Swimming Lessons, Time is a River, Last Light Over Carolina and The Butterfly’s Daughter.

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