The Summer Guests
By Mary Alice Monroe
Foreword by Katherine Kaneb Bellissimo
Read by Cassandra Campbell
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio (June 2019)
Length: 416 pages
Runtime: 11 hours and 27 minutes
Fiction : Family Life, Romance-General, Contemporary Women
I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader’s copy of this book. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.
From the New York Times bestselling author of the Beach House series comes a heartwarming and evocative novel about the bonds and new beginnings that are born from natural disasters and how, even during the worst of circumstances—or perhaps because of them—we discover what is most important in life.
Late August is a beautiful time on the Southern coast—the peach trees are ripe, the ocean is warm, and the sweet tea is icy. A perfect time to enjoy the rocking chairs on the porch. But beneath the calm surface bubbles a threat: it’s also peak hurricane season.
When a hurricane threatens the coasts of Florida and South Carolina, an eclectic group of evacuees flees for the farm of their friends Grace and Charles Phillips in North Carolina: the Phillips’s daughter Moira and her rescue dogs, famed equestrian Javier Angel de la Cruz, makeup artist Hannah McLain, horse breeder Gerda Klug and her daughter Elise, and island resident Cara Rutledge. They bring with them only the few treasured possessions they can fit in their vehicles. Strangers to all but the Phillips, they must ride out the storm together.
During the course of one of the most challenging weeks of their lives, relationships are put to the test as the evacuees are forced to confront the unresolved issues they have with themselves and with each other. But as the storm passes, they realize that what really matters isn’t what they brought with them to the mountains. Rather, it’s what they’ll take with them once they leave.
With Mary Alice Monroe’s “usual resplendent storytelling” (Patti Callahan Henry, New York Times bestselling author), The Summer Guests is a poignant and compelling story of self-discovery, love, and redemption. https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/The-Summer-Guests/Mary-Alice-Monroe/9781508279136
This is pleasant piece of “women’s fiction” with romance, horses and a hurricane. I think the romance is incidental to the drama and in some ways, takes away from it. There are a lot of characters and each has a storyline with varying degrees of connection to the main story. One is a woman who insists on going back to her house on the outer banks to board it up. The only connection there is a friendship with Grace, the woman who owns the house where everyone else takes refuge, and this is the link to the main series “The Beach House.”
The many characters get an explanation at the start of the book and the types of equestrian activity do too. It is part of a lengthy foreword by Katherine Kaneb Bellissimo, who I had never heard of but who is apparently a friend of the author and a part of the world of equine rights and equestrian society.
Along with a lot of characters, there are several accents: Spanish, German and slightly southern — although there’s less southern than I would have thought. Ms. Campbell does fairly well with the non-accented characters but her accents could be better, or, they could be labeled “vaguely European.”
One theme is the relationship between a horse and rider: how it can make or break the ability to compete, and how there may be “that one horse.” Some horses can change a rider’s life but one one special horse may define it (paraphrased). In this case, the one who defines Gerta’s life is also te one who collapsed and caused her to lose her leg. Since then she has been competing through her daughter, Elise, who is a great equestrian but has not developed that special relationship with the amazing, 2,000,000 horse her mother picked out and gave her.
If you appreciate the idea of relating to spirits of the land and First Peoples, an./or reincarnation then there is something for you as well.
There are also dogs, and at least one cat.
There are a lot of characters, a lot of themes and one big event: A hurricane. This is not just a hurricane but a HURRICANE – possibly achieving the highest ever winds and a new category. The hurricane parallels the storms in the character’s lives: physical traumas, marriages, all kinds of relationships. I didn’t like all the characters, and I thought the volume of them cut down on their development.
I think the title is a little misleading, the guests are there for the hurricane and not the summer. They sta in tlarge number of cohtages ce ha available but not for the season – it is a refuge from a storm.
I never really thought about horse stables and centers and hurricanes until reading this. What disasters wold there be if these huge equestrian centers did not have standing evacuation plans. Other types of animals in kennels, zoos, or other locations must have a tough time as well. Aside from the generally enjoyable stories in the book, it made me think of this logistical nightmare. I think the book may be bring a new series and may have been that novel which sets-up the next several. If you enjoy horses, Mary Alice Munroe, and light romance then you should definitely check out The Summer Guests.