Beach Reads

By Cindy Bilbao

beach after dusk

The beach works its magic to help these characters work through complicated family relationships and secrets.


the summer girls novel

The Summer Girls

By Mary Alice Monroe

Mary Alice Monroe takes us to Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina, where we follow the lives of three young women when they are invited back to their childhood summer home by their grandmother.

Marietta Muir is the aging family matriarch, who has been living in a beach house named Sea Breeze on Sullivan’s Island for many years, following the death of her son and husband. She’s about to celebrate her 80th birthday and wants her granddaughters to stay with her at Sea Breeze for the entire summer, like they used to when they were younger, and rebuild their family bonds.

The three half-sisters—Carson, Dora, and Lucille—have different mothers but share the same father, Marietta’s late son, Parker. Each woman’s life has left a mark on them, and many readers may find they have something in common with the characters. They are very relatable, each with a background story going on when they arrive at Sea Breeze. During the course of the summer they realize both their own and each others’ strengths and the bonds that hold the sisters together.

There’s a strong environmental message and fascinating information about dolphins woven into the story as Carson “befriends” a dolphin and Dora’s autistic son also makes a connection with the animal.

This is book one in the Lowcountry Summer Series.

 beach mystery novel in captiva

Captiva Island

By Kathy Lee Sumner

Mystery, secrets, and deceit have followed Julia Parks to the small, quaint island of Captiva in Florida. The newspaper columnist has been invited to write the biography of the renowned and reclusive romance writer Helen Van Buren, who is now 86 years old.

When the author reads to Julia from a secret, unfinished manuscript, which would have been her very first novel if it had been published, old family secrets that were carefully kept hidden away begin to surface. Julia must figure out if the story Ms. Van Buren is reading to her is real or fiction.

The story within the story contains similar themes of family, secrets, romance, and forgiveness with enough twists and surprises that keep the reader thoroughly engaged right up until the very end. This is a well-written novel that is at times extremely charming and at other times quite suspenseful.

Descriptions of Ms. Van Buren’s home on Captiva will have you dreaming of a trip to the island, as you imagine staying in Helen’s quaint cottage decorated in apple green with tropical pink trim and a balcony overlooking the ocean.

Read more beach book recommendations from Cindy Bilbao.

This article appeared in the Beachcombing Magazine March/April 2022 issue.

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