Mary Alice Monroe
May 29, 2020
Blurb: It’s been sixteen years since Caretta “Cara” Rutledge has returned home to the beautiful shores of Charleston, South Carolina. Over those years, she has weathered the tides of deaths and births, struggles and joys. And now, as Cara prepares for her second wedding, her life is about to change yet again.
Meanwhile, the rest of the storied Rutledge family is also in flux. Cara’s niece Linnea returns to Sullivan’s Island to begin a new career and an unexpected relationship. Linnea’s parents, having survived bankruptcy, pin their hopes and futures on the construction of a new home on Ocean Boulevard. But as excitement over the house and wedding builds, a devastating illness strikes the family and brings plans to a screeching halt. It is under these trying circumstances that the Rutledge family must come together yet again to discover the enduring strength in love, tradition, and legacy from mother to daughter to granddaughter.
Like the sea turtles that come ashore annually on these windswept islands, three generations of the Rutledge family experience a season of return, rebirth, and growth. “Authentic, generous, and heartfelt” (Mary Kay Andrews, New York Times bestselling author), On Ocean Boulevard is Mary Alice Monroe at her very best.
One element of Mary Alice Monroe’s writing that I’ve always loved is her ability to describe the natural setting of her book and make it come alive for her reader. While she does that quite often in On Ocean Boulevard, it is off-set by frequent preaching to the choir and dueling main character storylines.
Monroe has taken to talking a lot about climate change and ocean pollution in these last couple of novels. These are needed discussions, especially considering how much single-use plastic our society consumes and tosses, a great deal of which ends up in the ocean and then into the bodies of the ocean creatures.
One of the themes in On Ocean Boulevard is the work being done to care for the environment of the loggerhead turtles. This is a recurring theme, one I remember from her first book in the Beach House series, The Beach House. For me, this was the story. How the granddaughter, Linnea, of the original Turtle Lady, Lovie, carries on the tradition of watching over the turtle nests. And, it was Linnea’s story, coming back home after a dual heartbreak of losing her ideal job and her long-time boyfriend and starting over, that was the most involving for me.
Unfortunately, the second storyline revolved around Cara Rutledge and her impending nuptials. , of which I was not a fan. I just don’t find pages of descriptions of wedding dresses to be my thing. Not to mention the fact that I found Cara and her fiance, David’s, relationship to be problematic, their trip to NYC, which was supposed to be like a fairytale for the reader, felt more like an interruption. And, then there was preaching to the choir regarding vaccinations.
A personal observation, I found it somewhat hypocritical that a character, Cara, who is supposed to be a crusader for the environment and ocean creatures, dines on foie gras, telling me that maybe her only consideration is for marine animals and not land ones.
While there was Monroe’s lovely writing bringing the sea to me even if I can’t be there as well as a beautiful, thoughtful ending, I found the pacing to be uneven and parts dragged. I recognize that readers who’ve experienced all six Beach House novels might fare better than me with On Ocean Boulevard.
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
3 butterflies and a ladybug out of 5 butterflies